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


FoodMan
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Thanks for the comparison Bombdog! I can only speak for the visual aspect of things, I could tell immediatly which one was cold smoked vs. the hot smoked in the picture. The cold-smoked one looked like it has a tighter grain and seemed like it held it's shape betgter under cooking. I will be sticking with cold-smoking myself.

BTW, my belly had nipples too :smile:...pork belly that is. I just loped them off before curing.

Abra, I cold smoked my pork belly for about 5 hours and yes it does remain cool to the touch. That is the point. However, mine was thinner than yours, so I am guessing you need a longer time in the cure and a longer smoke time as well. Was it pretty firm when you removed ikt from the cure??

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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It was pretty firm, but not hard, or solid, so maybe it needed more than the 8 days it got. I just pulled it off the smoker again. Now it's been double smoked, 4 hours at about 90-100, and another 4 hours at about 150. It looks a lot more golden and bacon-y now, at least on the outside. After it chills down I'll take some pictures and fry up a sample.

I finally got up the nerve to take my pancetta down, skin it, sniff it carefully all over (smelled absolutely perfect), re-roll, and re-hang it. I did salt and pepper the skinned side (thanks, Bombdog) but I didn't want to re-cure it because I had tasted a bit of it before the first hanging and the cure already seemed good. So, now it's hanging again, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Confidence and experience are all I'm lacking here, so I really appreciate all of the help from this bunch. Well, maybe my reading skills are also Needs Improvement!

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This salmon is not directly from this book, but I started curing salmon because of the original recipe in Charcuterie and I also added procedures to this recipe based on instructions from this book. So, I feel it really belongs on this thread. The recipe I am talking about is from the latest F&W issue, “Pastrami-style Gravlax”. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to give this a try. It looked awesome in the magazine, and it was. So I bought a big hunk of wild fresh salmon and cured it based on the F&W recipe (salt, raw sugar ie Turbinado, shallots, parsley and cilantro). Even though the recipe does not state this, I still weighed it down like the Charcuterie recipe.

Once done curing, and boy did it throw out lots of liquid, I divided it in half. One I prepared like the rest of the recipe states to make it into “Pastrami”, the other I hot smoked per my wife’s request. Both were outstanding, I especially loved the Pastrami one and served it with homemade onion rye, shallots and cream cheese. The smoked one was served on top of sautéed zucchini and more rye bread. I will definitely be making this Pastrami-style salmon again, since it makes for a great lunch at work…while my fellow employees heat up their Hotpockets :wink:

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Ready to get out of the cure

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The Pastrami-Salmon

gallery_5404_2234_134937.jpg

Smoked Salmon

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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gallery_5404_2234_134937.jpg

Smoked Salmon

Damn Elie, that looks AWESOME!

Dave Valentin

Retired Explosive Detection K9 Handler

"So, what if we've got it all backwards?" asks my son.

"Got what backwards?" I ask.

"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.

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Elie, that looks great. Since it's a modified version of two recipes with your own input, it sounds like a great Recipe Gullet candidate -- and I can guarantee that I'll make it! Whadaya think?

Sure, I'll enter it in RG.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Yes, here it is

gallery_16307_2661_375112.jpg

double-smoked, cold smoked over apple, warm smoked over hickory, total of 7 1/2 hours in the smoke.

I think it's delicious. My husband thinks it's very good, but he still thinks it doesn't "taste like bacon." I think he wants more nitrite, in truth. Would commercial bacon have more than the cure we're using?

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Abra, I'm noticing that your ratio of meat to fat is quite a bit higher than the 1:1 that Ruhlman and Polcyn suggest -- and, I'm sure, that itself is higher than the ratio on most US bacons. Perhaps your husband just wants more fat?? No insult, intended, of course. This is, after all, eGullet! :wink:

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Sorry, that was shorthand, Abra. I noticed that with my first two batches the one that had an equal meat:fat ratio cured more effectively; the one that was more meat than fat had a more canadian-bacon feel to it. Perhaps the ratio effects the cure? That would make some sense, after all, given the importance of the ratio in sausages, emulsified and otherwise....

What do folks think?

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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What was interesting to me is how different different parts of the belly are. Some is very well layered with meat, fat, meat, fat, etc., and other parts look and behave less like the bacon we get in the supermarket. Which makes me wonder what they are doing with those parts of the belly that are less lean (wait, maybe I don't want to know).

The other thing Diana and I have noticed is that this bacon seems to crisp up faster and doesn't exude the amount of liquid (water?) that supermarket bacon does. Diana's comment was "so, just how much water do they pump into their bacon?"

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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The other thing Diana and I have noticed is that this bacon seems to crisp up faster and doesn't exude the amount of liquid (water?) that supermarket bacon does.  Diana's comment was "so, just how much water do they pump into their bacon?"

I've had the same experience and thoughts. Cooking this bacon actually produces an astonishing fond bc there's just no water coming off of it. It's particularly remarkable for lardons, bc they crisp up yet maintain their meaty, thick texture. They don't turn into brittle Bac-Os.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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The other thing Diana and I have noticed is that this bacon seems to crisp up faster and doesn't exude the amount of liquid (water?) that supermarket bacon does.  Diana's comment was "so, just how much water do they pump into their bacon?"

I've had the same experience and thoughts. Cooking this bacon actually produces an astonishing fond bc there's just no water coming off of it. It's particularly remarkable for lardons, bc they crisp up yet maintain their meaty, thick texture. They don't turn into brittle Bac-Os.

I also find that it needs to be cooked at a lower temperature than store bacon. I think this is also because of the lower moisture content.

=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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I walked into school today and, sitting across from my desk, all proud and eager, was my new Bradley Smoker!! I put in my half day of work today and then started my four-and-a-half days of a smokin' vacation!

After a quick stop at Whole Foods for more meat, I hustled home to unpack, fiddle, and season the Bradley. It was a breeze to assemble, though it took a little while for me to figure out the bisquette feeder thingie -- it kept pushing the damned pucks directly into the water, one after another, without actually burning any of them. :hmmm: Once I had the hang of it, I seasoned it for a couple of hours with some alder and hickory. It seems just about as easy as pie to use, in fact, and with my other new toy, the Maverick remote thermometer, I think I'm ready for some serious smoking.

My two bellies curing in the fridge need another night before drying, so I brined up a whole turkey breast and bought some pork butt for sausage making tomorrow. I'm thinking that I'll make some chorizo and some andouille and then give them a bit of smoke. I also found a wonderful soft, artisanal gouda made in Western Massachusetts that seems to be crying out for some smoke (my wife is a big smoked gouda fan). but I wasn't sure what sort of cheese takes best to smoke. Any ideas?

More, probably much more, over the next several days.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Chris, I am so jealous. Ply us with pictures, please!

I smoked a chunk of halloumi the other day when I was cold-smoking. I did halloumi because it doesn't melt, so it seemed good for a maiden voyage. It smoked for 2 hours, and all of the outer surfaces were nice and smoky, but the smoke didn't penetrate at all. I'd definitely do it again, but in smaller pieces, so as to get maximun surface area exposed to the smoke.

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I walked into school today and, sitting across from my desk, all proud and eager, was my new Bradley Smoker!! I put in my half day of work today and then started my four-and-a-half days of a smokin' vacation!

After a quick stop at Whole Foods for more meat, I hustled home to unpack, fiddle, and season the Bradley. It was a breeze to assemble, though it took a little while for me to figure out the bisquette feeder thingie -- it kept pushing the damned pucks directly into the water, one after another, without actually burning any of them. :hmmm: Once I had the hang of it, I seasoned it for a couple of hours with some alder and hickory. It seems just about as easy as pie to use, in fact, and with my other new toy, the Maverick remote thermometer, I think I'm ready for some serious smoking.

My two bellies curing in the fridge need another night before drying, so I brined up a whole turkey breast and bought some pork butt for sausage making tomorrow. I'm thinking that I'll make some chorizo and some andouille and then give them a bit of smoke. I also found a wonderful soft, artisanal gouda made in Western Massachusetts that seems to be crying out for some smoke (my wife is a big smoked gouda fan). but I wasn't sure what sort of cheese takes best to smoke. Any ideas?

More, probably much more, over the next several days.

Congratuations! I'm so thrilled for you! But, don't just think that butt is for sausage...you'll need to smoke a naked, brined butt so you can have some Pantry Gold. (er, that should be Freezer Gold)

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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The other thing Diana and I have noticed is that this bacon seems to crisp up faster and doesn't exude the amount of liquid (water?) that supermarket bacon does.  Diana's comment was "so, just how much water do they pump into their bacon?"

I've had the same experience and thoughts. Cooking this bacon actually produces an astonishing fond bc there's just no water coming off of it. It's particularly remarkable for lardons, bc they crisp up yet maintain their meaty, thick texture. They don't turn into brittle Bac-Os.

I concur :smile: especially about the lardons comment. I made a kick-ass frizee and lardon salad the other day.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Round one of smoking with Charcuterie: andouille sausage. It's no exaggeration to say that one of the main reasons I wanted to get the Bradley was because of my craving for and inability to find good andouille sausages. One of my earliest cooking experiences revolved around Paul Prudhomme's first two books, and his gushing descriptions of andouille really took hold of me. I couldn't get anything decent up in the northeast, and my mid-1980s trip to NOLA confirmed that I was missing out. So I'm very excited -- anxious, really; I've been tearing up my thumb picking at it nervously all day -- to be kicking the Bradley off with these sausages.

Following the recipe in the book and the good advice in this thread an in the sausage cook-off, I diced up my crunchy frozen shoulder, mixed up the spices, ground the meat with my KA, and stuffed the sausages. I had my first real problems with casings this time around; they tore a bit and were generally fussy. Even with those problems, I ended up with quite a few nice links:

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I wanted two shots to indicate the Ikea Frost clothes drying rack clearly; I've used this a lot for pasta drying and it worked like a charm for the sausages as well. Dirt cheap, too.

I had to figger a way to attach the links to the baskets, and found a few safety pins, which were very handy:

gallery_19804_437_17772.jpg

And here's the little beauty sitting on a table outside:

gallery_19804_437_117160.jpg

The racks with the sausages inside the Bradley:

gallery_19804_437_225157.jpg

Turns out that my Bradley wanted to send seven or eight pucks through at a time, so I lost some extras to the little bowl. I called the 800 number and got a helpful person right away (Katie, in case you need her), and we're seeing if things are all set now.

Meanwhile, I'm now trying not to drink too much as I await the results. I've got an ice bath ready for the sausages as soon as they hit 150. More soon!

edited to fix typos -- ca

Edited by chrisamirault (log)

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Go Chris, go! Great pics to remember what the inside of your smoker once looked like, as it's days of reflecting light are soon to end. :biggrin:

I am so totally jealous now . . . all I can say is "puck" you! :laugh:

=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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Great pics to remember what the inside of your smoker once looked like, as it's days of reflecting light are soon to end. :biggrin:

If you look carefully at that last shot you can actually see the reflection of a sausage on the smoke shield!

I guess mine was that shiny back in December, but it sure doesn't look like that now!

Dave Valentin

Retired Explosive Detection K9 Handler

"So, what if we've got it all backwards?" asks my son.

"Got what backwards?" I ask.

"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.

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I had to figger a way to attach the links to the baskets, and found a few safety pins, which were very handy:

Chris, paper clips are even easier! Time to lay in a box of the big ones.

Please give us a blow-by-blow on using the Bradley, the temp regulation, etc.

I have a rather major wedding anniversary coming up (25) and am wondering if it's time to treat myself with something a little fancier than the trusty Weber Kettle (although I have a huge attachment to the Kettle and am very proud of what I can finesse out of it!).

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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