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


FoodMan
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as I finished these photos I ate about three-quarters of the skin in a rather sick frenzy. Man oh man....

I told ya! And it was worth EVERY bit of the wait, wasn't it?

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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The skin is cook's reward. Sort of like the heart and liver of the chicken. I'm not sure my kids know these things exist.

Chris, I don't want to hijack this topic, but please tell me there's a butt in your future.

This gal is about to tell The Man that for the 25th anniversary, no power tools (which is my typical gift request) for a more sophisticated smoking machine.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Chris,

I went back and tried to figure out if you used the Smoked Andouille recipe or the Cold-Smoked Andouille recipe. I'm guessing, from the cooking method you described, that you used the Smoked Andouille recipe. Could you please confirm that when you get a chance?

BTW, Cabela's (www.cabelas.com) has the Bradley unit you purchased on sale right now for $299. Freight isn't free but it's only about $25. But, from what I can tell, no free puckage from Cabela's. You made a nice buy. :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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Thanks, bigwino. I just ordered the Grizzly.

By the way, I was in Armandino Batali's shop yesterday, and I mentioned to him that my duck prosciutto could use a little pepping up. He recommended adding a fennel rub to the curing stage, just in case anyone wants to try a variation. However, I served it to a bunch of eGers last night and people seemed to love it just as it was.

Paper-thin slicing is sure a problem with cured meat. Don't tell me we're all going to start buying slicers now, in addition to stuffers and grinders and smokers!

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Paper-thin slicing is sure a problem with cured meat. Don't tell me we're all going to start buying slicers now, in addition to stuffers and grinders and smokers!

Funny you should mention it. I've been looking for a slicer on Craigslist for several weeks now! :smile:

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I went back and tried to figure out if you used the Smoked Andouille recipe or the Cold-Smoked Andouille recipe.  I'm guessing, from the cooking method you described, that you used the Smoked Andouille recipe.  Could you please confirm that when you get a chance?

Yes, "Smoked Andouille," pages 156-7. By the way, can anyone give me a sense of how safe it would be to ship a link or two of this sausage via overnight?

I'm about to put the bacon in the Bradley; updates to follow.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Paper-thin slicing is sure a problem with cured meat. Don't tell me we're all going to start buying slicers now, in addition to stuffers and grinders and smokers!

Funny you should mention it. I've been looking for a slicer on Craigslist for several weeks now! :smile:

I hear ya! I find the best way to get thin thin slices is to get the meat cold and use a serrated bread knife.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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Yes, "Smoked Andouille," pages 156-7. By the way, can anyone give me a sense of how safe it would be to ship a link or two of this sausage via overnight?

I'd recommend wrapping the sausages tightly in plastic wrap and freezing them for about 24 hours before shipping. I'd also advise the inclusion of a freezer (gel) pack in the package. It's likely that they would make it to their destination safely without taking these steps. But, if there are unforeseen delays with the shipment, taking these steps will help guard against spoilage.

I'm about to make a batch of the Cold-smoked andouille. Per the recipe, I won't have final results for a few days. I'll be back to update the thread accordingly.

As for deli slicers, my experience with the Chef's Choice line has been poor. I bought one a few years ago when Chef's Catalog was having a local warehouse sale. Yes, I've used it to slice my bacon but it isn't optimal. Neither of the blades was very effective. Both left a frayed edge on the unsliced portion of the belly. I ended up having to repeatedly flip the belly over between slices to keep that edge from taking over. Not only do both the blades that came with the unit seem dull (correctable, I assume), but the slicer doesn't seem to produce adequate RPM to handle the jobs for which it is intended.

OTOH, it seems like they offer a few different models and maybe they've been improved since I purchased mine. But my hunch is that you need to go strictly commercial with a slicer to make the purchase worth it.

=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 did actually freeze the prosciutto then slice it with a grooved slicing knife, but it still wasn't thin enough.

I can't see why shipping the andouille would be a problem. After all, we all order meat online and it arrives cold-packed overnight. Yours should be fine, unless the smell entices the postal folks into opening your package!

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Thanks, Abra and Ron. I've already vacuum-sealed and frozen it so I think I'm going to be set with your suggestions.

Chris, please let us know how it is on arrival. My fiance is all over me to ship some things to her mother. I was thinking of doing it in the same manner.

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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Paper-thin slicing is sure a problem with cured meat. Don't tell me we're all going to start buying slicers now, in addition to stuffers and grinders and smokers!

Funny you should mention it. I've been looking for a slicer on Craigslist for several weeks now! :smile:

I hear ya! I find the best way to get thin thin slices is to get the meat cold and use a serrated bread knife.

I had to blow considerable dust off it, but there's some helpful information in this topic.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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And back to bacon...again :raz:. I'll skip the blow by blow and the pictures because I'm doing almost exactly what I did before with an 11 pound belly from the Amish farmer. When I suggested experimenting with other recipes, spouse person said in no uncertain tones "Don't even let it cross your mind." I guess that means she liked the initial effort :biggrin:.

Alas, this will be the last from the Amish farm until October sometime when they start slaughtering hogs again after the weather cools down. Anyway, the lesson I've learned is that once family and friends get a taste of the bacon, you'll be stunned at how quickly 10 pounds can disappear. After giving quite a bit away, cooking up several samples for tasting, and eating it ourselves several times, my 10 pounds is gone!! As in zippo, zilch, nada!! We ate the last this morning with pancakes. My only comfort is that the new bellies already have four days curing on them in the fridge, so I'm only a few days away from being resupplied.

Next project, after a road trip next weekend, will be hot smoked Andouille using the recipe Chris used with such spectacular success. I'm planning on using beef rounds for casings, and an enhanced spicing similar to Chris's. And thanks much for all the tips Chris. I'm anxious to see how it turns out in a horizontal smoker where I can't hang the sausages, but based on past experience, I don't think that's going to make any difference. More to follow :rolleyes:.

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

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Well, I've run into my first "must wing it" moment with the cold-smoked Andouille recipe and I'm looking for some guidance. The first grind is complete, the seasoned meat mixture and the grinder attachment are in the freezer for the next hour until I do the second grind.

After the second grind is complete, the recipe calls for the addition of water during the mixing stage but there is no quantity of water specified in the recipe. Because the mixture contains fresh onions, the mixture is juicier than it's been in the past when I was making other types of sausages. Other recipes in the book (for non-emulsified sausages) call for 1 cup of water. I'm thinking about adding just 1/2 cup but I'm really not sure if that's the right move. Or, is the water just a "by feel" addition, like it might be for certain pastry doughs? Any thoughts?

Thanks,

=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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Ron, how much water does one add to 1/2 c of milk powder to get reconstituted milk? Maybe that would be a useful guide?

Good thought, Chris. You'd need 14 fluid ounces of water to reconstitute that 1/2 cup of milk powder. But, that seems like way too much liquid to add to the meat mixture. Or, maybe not. :wacko:

I know that the water is usually added primarily to help distribute the seasonings evenly thoughout the mixture. Maybe I should just eyeball it and measure how much I add for future reference. Problem is, I don't really know the exact texture I'm shooting for.

=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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Hey guys, I have been on curing sabatical for the last three weeks, I feel like I am going through nitrate withdrawal!! Anyway, I am just wondering if anyone has read or seen anything from John Kinsella's charcuterie book? I just orderd a desk reference copy from the distributer the other day (one of the perks of being a chef instructor... free cookbooks!!!).

I know, I know, this is the thread about Polcyn and Rhulman....... just curious...

Tonyy13

Owner, Big Wheel Provisions

tony_adams@mac.com

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Yes, "Smoked Andouille," pages 156-7. By the way, can anyone give me a sense of how safe it would be to ship a link or two of this sausage via overnight?

I'd recommend wrapping the sausages tightly in plastic wrap and freezing them for about 24 hours before shipping. I'd also advise the inclusion of a freezer (gel) pack in the package. It's likely that they would make it to their destination safely without taking these steps. But, if there are unforeseen delays with the shipment, taking these steps will help guard against spoilage.

...

Most folks don't have access to polystyrene insulated food shipping boxes.

Absent that, can I suggest that bubblewrap, taped to make a sealed enclosure, would add some useful insulation and add very little to the shipping weight?

I'd wrap the frozen sausages with the icepack inside maybe four or five thicknesses of bubblewrap.

And, in case condensation softened any wrapping *paper*, I'd seek out a Tyvek (or equivalent) envelope.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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I know that the water is usually added primarily to help distribute the seasonings evenly thoughout the mixture.  Maybe I should just eyeball it and measure how much I add for future reference.  Problem is, I don't really know the exact texture I'm shooting for.

Ron, my impression is that water (or beer, or wine, or whatever) is added primarily to keep the mixture moist enough so that it will flow evenly through the stuffer. At least that's how I've always done it, and it seems to work out that way. Based on that, I'd just eyeball it until it seemed right and wing it from there.

Re a second grinding, most of the "real" Andouille I'm familiar with is pretty coarsely ground, so you might want to reconsider that also. See Poche's description, and also Jacob's . The latter doesn't even grind theirs at all so they say, and I can attest that it is damned good Andouille :raz:. Just a thought.

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

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Ron, my impression is that water (or beer, or wine, or whatever) is added primarily to keep the mixture moist enough so that it will flow evenly through the stuffer.  At least that's how I've always done it, and it seems to work out that way.  Based on that, I'd just eyeball it until it seemed right and wing it from there.

Re a second grinding, most of the "real" Andouille I'm familiar with is pretty coarsely ground, so you might want to reconsider that also.  See Poche's description, and also Jacob's .  The latter doesn't even grind theirs at all so they say, and I can attest that it is damned good Andouille :raz:.  Just a thought.

Thanks, hwilson, for the input. I did end up eyeballing it, keeping firmly in mind the term emulsify. The desired mixture is described in the book as being batter-like. So, with the KA whirring at low, I kept drizzling ice cold water into the mixture until it became emulsified and batter-like, although not runny. That took about 1.5 C of water and just over 3 minutes.

From there I had an easy time tubing the mixture off. In fact, I filled the cannister, tubed it off and did another partial run (to use the remainder of the mixture), all in one, uninterrupted coil of casing. I then spun off the coil into links which are drying in my refrigerator right now. I'll cold smoke them tomorrow, after work . . . hello, daylight savings time :smile:

But -- and this alludes to your second point -- I'm not sure how much I'm going to end up liking this recipe. I love Poche's and buy it often. Now, admittedly I still haven't smoked nor dried this batch yet, but in my initial tasting, the final product was nothing like Poche's. It tasted like a very good -- but completely different -- variety of sausage. Beyond the textural differences, there were vast flavor differences too. Again, I have a few steps to go before I can make a truly meaningful comparison.

=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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But -- and this alludes to your second point -- I'm not sure how much I'm going to end up liking this recipe.  I love Poche's and buy it often.  Now, admittedly I still haven't smoked nor dried this batch yet, but in my initial tasting, the final product was nothing like Poche's.  It tasted like a very good -- but completely different -- variety of sausage.  Beyond the textural differences, there were vast flavor differences too.  Again, I have a few steps to go before I can make a truly meaningful comparison.

I've been pondering exactly the same question. I read...more closely than usual :wacko:...Poche's detailed description, including the spices, and the recipes in Charcuterie include a lot more stuff than either Poche's or Jacob's use (assuming their lists are complete, of course). I may edit the recipe a bit before making the sausage, in hopes that I will end up with something similar to the "real" sausage we already know.

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

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In the "Smoked Andouille" (again, 156-7), I definitely felt that the mace, cloves, and allspice added a spicy, round dimension that was appealing. Honestly, I don't know that the Colman's mustard added too much. Next time I probably will bump up the pepper by adding some black and white and lose the mustard.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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