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Curing and Cooking with Ruhlman & Polcyn's "Charcuterie" (Part 1)


FoodMan
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I cut down the amount of Bactoferm because it seems so wasteful to use 10 times the amount of a fairly expensive ingredient. The package insert said that the 25 grams would treat 200 pounds of meat and I'm only making 5 pounds of peperone. I didn't find the taste of the first batch too sour at all. I'll let you know how this batch turns out.

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I finished curing my bresaola last night. I used the book recipe. It weighed 30.5 oz prior to hanging and hung at 60 F and about 65% humidity for 10 days. After that time it weighed 20 oz. Color and is good deep red. No mold at all. It seems very dry on the outside and while I have only sampled a small portion, it seems overly sweet. I did rub it lightly with evoo prior to hanging but this does not seem to have been sufficient to prevent a very dry outside. I recall reading that someone puts it in casings. What kind? How do you get the meat in the casing? Anyone have any ideas about alternative curing rubs that would result in a less sweet product? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

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Just took down the lop yuk I've been curing upstairs; took about ten days this time due to the thicker cut. I think that they're going to be better, too -- but we'll see soon.

Here's my bacon from the smoker to the oven. It's in my belly now, and I'm happy! 

....

Awesome looking bacon!

I'll say Pallee! What kind of a smoker is that?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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On a different note, I've tried to convince Amazon.com that Michael Ruhlman wrote the book with Brian Polcyn and that while Thomas Keller wrote the foreword, he is neither the principal author nor the author.

I was thanked for corrections that the company would make promptly.

If you click the link, you'll see the results.

A second note was met with regrets.

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Onward and upward with bacon :biggrin:. This stuff is so good that I am amazed it is so easy. Of course, I had some very helpful ground breaking by Ronnie Suburban, for which many thanks Ron.

To the point, I started out with one large pork belly bought from an Amish farmer in southern Maryland who raises grain fed hogs. Here is the belly, still in one piece. It weighs 11.5 lbs and measures about 11" x 17", 2-1/2" thick at the thickest part.

gallery_11476_774_33023.jpg

I cut the belly into halves to fit into the zip locks. Here is one, already treated with the cure from Charcuterie using the recipe on pp. 83-4. The only change made was that I added about 1 Tbsp black pepper to each of the recipes. Note that the 2 gallon bag was actually a bit large, so I used binder clips to make it a bit smaller.

gallery_11476_774_68488.jpg

Because of the thickness (I think), I had to let the bellies cure for 9 days to get them firm. They didn't develop as much liquid as I expected, despite tha fact that I used a pretty generous amount of cure (3 recipes total, most of which was used up).

After 9 days in the cure, this is one of the halves on a drying rack, thoroughly rinsed and ready to go into the fridge for 24 hours to develop the pellicle.

gallery_11476_774_66215.jpg

Next, into the smoker, fired almost exclusively with apple which was pretty green, but the initial fire was started with hickory to get a bed of coals. Based on what Ron observed earlier, I smoked the halves entirely with the skin side down, and the finished product was very tender with just the right amount of chew to it.

gallery_11476_774_81749.jpg

It was quite windy and warm on smoking day, and I had trouble keeping the smoker temp below 225F but managed to contain it most of the time. After 2-1/2 hours, the internal temp was 150F, more or less. I checked with two thermometers and got two different readings that were about 3 degrees apart. Anyway, here is a very dark pic of what the two bellies looked like after smoking, now cooling on the racks.

gallery_11476_774_70246.jpg

And the finished product (skin removed), sliced and about to go into my beloved cast iron skillet. The two unsliced pieces in the pic are half of a half (it slices much easier if the cut the half in half again).

gallery_11476_774_26193.jpg

After it was cooked, I gave a taste to my next door neighbor, and he had a bacon-gasm on the spot :raz:. This stuff is so good, it is remarkable. We had what I think was the best BLT I've ever put in my mouth that night for supper. I doubt we'll be buying much Nueske's again, unless I slip up and run out of the homemade.

I'm not quite sure how much bacon we ended up with because my little kitchen scale taps out at 5 lbs and both halves were still over that after smoking, but I'm guessing they weren't much over 5 lbs each. And like Pallee observed above, I thought 10 lbs of bacon would be a gracious plenty, but after giving some away to several friends and eating it twice ourselves, we're down now to about 4 lbs and it's looking like I may have to do this every other month or so. Damn, that's good bacon :raz::biggrin:. Thanks Michael for the book, and thanks again Ron for all the helpful suggestions.

"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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So glad it went well, hwilson41, and clearly, from the pics, it did :smile:

You're so right about the yield too. 10# of bacon doesn't go nearly as far one might think. Wait, did I just say that? :blink::biggrin:

I also agree about never wanting to buy commercial bacon again. And when you're shunning Nueske product, you know you've turned out something special. We host an annual Christmas/Hannukah party every year at which I serve home-made rumaki. I cannot wait until Holiday time 2006, so that I can use my own bacon around those chicken livers. In fact, I think I may have to make a preview batch really soon.

What's your next Charcuterie project?

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Just took down the lop yuk I've been curing upstairs; took about ten days this time due to the thicker cut. I think that they're going to be better, too -- but we'll see soon.
Here's my bacon from the smoker to the oven. It's in my belly now, and I'm happy! 

....

Awesome looking bacon!

I'll say Pallee! What kind of a smoker is that?

The one in the picture is a Big Chief from Luhr Jensen. It's electric and gets to about 140' if you don't put ice in it. The hot one I used is a Smokey Mountain gas fired and can get up to 450' if you aren't careful. I also have a New Braufels wood fired offset and an indoor stovetop. I want to build an outdoor woodfired oven this summer with an adjunct cold smoker - haven't found the plans yet.

At a restaurant I worked in many years back, we modified a Luhr Jensen by cutting a hole in the top, running a drier hose out of it and into an upside down hotel pan we'd cut a coresponding hole in. Then we'd put the product on a rack under it in another pan and surround it in ice. The product stayed very cold.

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I also agree about never wanting to buy commercial bacon again. And when you're shunning Nueske product, you know you've turned out something special.  We host an annual Christmas/Hannukah party every year at which I serve home-made rumaki.  I cannot wait until Holiday time 2006, so that I can use my own bacon around those chicken livers.  In fact, I think I may have to make a preview batch really soon.

Dammit! If I lived a little closer, I'd try to finagle an invitation for myself :raz:. Those sound really delicious.

What's your next Charcuterie project?

I think I'm going to do some pancetta or a variant thereon. I also love savory bacon flavor and might do a regular half (smoked) and a half rolled and hung, both seasoned with the savory seasoning. But I'll have to wait awhile. The one problem with the Amish farmer is that you can only get these bellies at the first of every month (when they slaughter the hogs).

I'm also hot to trot on making some authentic Texas Hot Links like I used to get in Ft Worth when I was growing up there. I'm still fiddling with the recipe, but think I'm closing in on it :wacko::raz:, so that'll probably keep me busy until the next hog killin' time.

"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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I'm also hot to trot on making some authentic Texas Hot Links like I used to get in Ft Worth when I was growing up there.  I'm still fiddling with the recipe, but think I'm closing in on it :wacko:  :raz:, so that'll probably keep me busy until the next hog killin' time.

This sounds like a most worthy endeavor. I hope you'll keep us in the loop. :smile:

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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This sounds like a most worthy endeavor.  I hope you'll keep us in the loop. :smile:

Most definitely. Fifi and I discussed these way back when, and she remembers about the same thing I do. Sausages, hotter than the hinges of hell, fresh off the smoker. On the first bite, hot fat spurts out, and after that it's just some of the most devine sausage you've ever tasted (provided you can tolerate a fair amount of cayenne :wacko:).

The funny thing is, most Texans will regale you with their "true" versions of Texas chili or good BBQ (brisket, of course) until hell won't have it, complete with more instructions that you ever wanted to hear. But when the subject turns to hot links, everybody clams up and they'd part with their first-born daughter faster than they'd give you a recipe :raz::biggrin:. Here's a link to a pretty funny article by Pableaux Johnson on the subject.

Edited to correct bad link.

Edited by hwilson41 (log)

"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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Edsel, yes, i think the amounts to use on teh bacto ferm packages are for the manufacturer to cover their ass. I only use that much, and i monitor the acidification with a pH meter, making sure i'm at about 5.1 in 24 hours or so.

James: I use collagen casings i got from Butcher-packer. I have 100mm and 120mm. Find the casing that would fit best around your bresaola, and jam the hunk of beef in there...tie it up, and hang. It will help your dry outer edge. I've made bresaola both ways, with and without casings...the one without casings dried out much more.

jason

Edited by jmolinari (log)
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James, i do use sugar, i have my formulas at home, it is almost as much white sugar as salt. I'll post my exact formula tonight at home (assuming i remember:) ).

As far as the soppressata, i don't have any tried and true..most of my curing is solid pieces of meat like coppa/bresaola...still perfecting my salame.

jason

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Jason, it sounds like you might have the most charcuterie experience of any of the usual posters on this thread, so I'm eagerly awaiting your formulas. I want to use the least amount of chemical curing agents possible, but I want an excellent and safe result, obviously. I probably speak for everyone in that regard.

I realized that of course my concerns about botulism with regard to the duck breast prosciutto were silly, since it's a ground meat as opposed to solid muscle issue, but I am super safety conscious with regard to food and I still haven't solved the humidity question. I'm holding off on dry sausage until I figure that one out, although I've got the DC#2 and Bactoferm, and a Niman pork butt in the freezer along with some back fat, so I'm good to go as soon as I get my kundalini up.

I'm going to put up my first bacon tonight. I never did find any 2 gallon bags, but I have a roll of foodsaver bags, so I think I'll work with that. Not vacuumed, though, for the cure, right? Just sealed is what I've been thinking, unless somebody here straightens me out.

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I never did find any 2 gallon bags, but I have a roll of foodsaver bags, so I think I'll work with that.  Not vacuumed, though, for the cure, right?  Just sealed is what I've been thinking, unless somebody here straightens me out.

I would think (based on zero experience) that the vacuum would retard or totally inhibit circulation of the cure liquid. The book says explicitly that the curing liquid should be in contact with the meat at all times.

"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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Abra, i don't know if i have the most experience, but i have been doing this for about a year and a half or so now, but that is nothing compared to how long it takes to learn and become good (a lifetime!). I'm also very safety concious..but like you, don' tlike chemicals..i use what i think is hte least possible amount.

Last time i made bresaola this is what i did/had:

1 2lb 1oz eye of round

1 2lb 13 oz rump roast (i wanted to try a different piece of meat, usually i use eye of round)

66g salt

53g white sugar

8g cure #2

6g blk pepper

4g garlic powder

5g fresh rosemary

2g dry thyme

1g juniper berries

1/4 tsp (0.2g) cinnamon

1/4 tsp (about 5) cloves

grind spices and combine with sugar/salt and mix the cure well. Rub and massage the meat with 1/2 the mixture..really kneading the meat

Put in bag/tupperware

14 days later rerub with the rest of the mixture

10 days later, rinse the meats and put in casings (or don't, and you can rub them with a spice mixture if you want) and in the chamber at 55F/72% RH

After about 1 month they had lost 39.5% weight, and i ate them

The rump was good, a bit different flavor than the eye, but it was too fatty for bresaola, with large fat streaks in it. I'll stick to eye of round, as it is the perfect shape anyhow.

jason

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I never did find any 2 gallon bags, but I have a roll of foodsaver bags, so I think I'll work with that.  Not vacuumed, though, for the cure, right?  Just sealed is what I've been thinking, unless somebody here straightens me out.

I would think (based on zero experience) that the vacuum would retard or totally inhibit circulation of the cure liquid. The book says explicitly that the curing liquid should be in contact with the meat at all times.

I've got some pork belly vacuum-sealed with the salt/dextrose/spice cure for bacon in the fridge right now. There's a small amount of liquid in the bags now, so I think the cure should be well distributed at this point. I massage the bags a bit every time I flip them over, just to be sure.

I don't see much difference between using the vacuum pouches and the large Zip-lock bags others have been using. Think of the vacuum pouch as a Zip-lock with a better seal. :smile:

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I never did find any 2 gallon bags, but I have a roll of foodsaver bags, so I think I'll work with that.  Not vacuumed, though, for the cure, right?  Just sealed is what I've been thinking, unless somebody here straightens me out.

I would think (based on zero experience) that the vacuum would retard or totally inhibit circulation of the cure liquid. The book says explicitly that the curing liquid should be in contact with the meat at all times.

i think it would speed up the cure.

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I would think (based on zero experience) that the vacuum would retard or totally inhibit circulation of the cure liquid.  The book says explicitly that the curing liquid should be in contact with the meat at all times.

i think it would speed up the cure.

The vacuum would speed up the cure? Or am I reading you backwards :wacko:?

"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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