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


FoodMan
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Chris, i would thikn a cool, dry place is about 60deg. F, and about 50% RH.

Regarding the salt petre, use cure #2 (since this item is dry cured), in the proportion of about 28g to 25lbs of meat.

As far as the proportions of soy/sugar, it seems that the sugar and dark soy are there to counteract the over saltyness of the soy. I think this is going to be trial and error. Take good notes, and since the this is done in strips, you could make multiple trials at once, and then decide which you like more. Do one with 1:1 ratio of soy/dark soy, one with 1:2, 2:1 etc.

The few times i've used alcohal in my cures for pancetta or guanciale, i've disliked the results. It gave the meat a distinct winey flavor i didn't care for.

My answers don't help much, sorry.

jason

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Re: salinity. The best answer I can give you is "according to taste". Lop yook is considered one of those salty meats that is used in small proportions in a dish or as a meal extender on the Chinese table. Lean towards the saltier side (dark soy and salt).

Re: saltpetre. Not essential if you will be keeping lop yook refrigerated, but it is a nice safety measure if the stuff is to be kept in dry storage. Alcohol performs the same function, as a bactrerial inhibitor, and because it adds that characteristic taste to the finish product, I always use a bit.

Re: sugar. After you mix the marinade but before you add the pork, taste it. The marinade should have a "heavy" taste that comes from the dark soy, and sugar and salt combination.

Re: time. The longer the meat is marinaded the more intense the flavour. I usually leave mine overnght.

Re: Temps and conditions. I used to hang the stuff in my sunporch late in the fall with the windows open at least a few hours each day. A cool basement would work as long as you use a fan to move air around it and it is less than 60 degreesF.

Re: right feel. The lop yook should be stiff and dry to the touch like the stiffness if a dry pepperoni (but not iron bar stiff).

Re: precision??? Ya gotta be kidding. Best recommendation is to buy some commercial stuff and use that as a benchmark. We Chinese use all five senses when we cook and the trial and error method What I tell you now may be heresy to some, but it is generally the right way.

Re: Lop cheong or Chinese sausage. I prefer the commercial stuff, so why bother.

[bGUNG HAY FAT CHOY

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Ummm, little help over here?

The pancetta is on day eight of the cure and it's distinctly less firm than the bacon at the same stage of cure. The firmness hasn't changed in the last day or so, so I'm not inclined to continue the cure any longer unless I change something.

So, any thoughts? Am I OK to do the drying/hanging? Should I add more salt and let it go a few more days?

Thanks for any help.

-Paul

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Ummm, little help over here? 

The pancetta is on day eight of the cure and it's distinctly less firm than the bacon at the same stage of cure.  The firmness hasn't changed in the last day or so, so I'm not inclined to continue the cure any longer unless I change something. 

So, any thoughts?  Am I OK to do the drying/hanging?  Should I add more salt and let it go a few more days? 

Thanks for any help.

-Paul

Paul, we're in the same boat. Like you, I decided my bacon belly had cured as much as it was going to. So, I removed it from the cure yesterday afternoon and let it dry in the fridge overnight. I'm happy to report that when I took it out this morning, after about 20 hours in the fridge, the belly had firmed up noticeably. It's on the smoker now, over some cherry wood, and I hope to have some results soon.

As for the pancetta, since no smoking is involved, I'm going to let it go a bit longer in its cure. My plan now is to rinse and dry it tonight, tie it up tomorrow after work and hang it in my garage after that.

=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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While my initial efforts at bacon and pancetta are underway, I decided to try my hand at breakfast sausage. I figured this was a good place to start since I like it a lot, the recipe is easy and I'm used to having it without casings . . .

gallery_3085_2455_60891.jpg

Chunks of pork butt which sat, seasoned, for about 24 hours in fridge.

gallery_3085_2455_128022.jpg

Making the sausage in the world's ugliest kitchen . . .

gallery_3085_2455_2275.jpg

Seasoned meat exiting the grider.

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2-bowl set-up -- ice in the outer bowl keeps everything on-course.

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A closer look at the seasoned ground pork.

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The "primary bind," obtained after the addition of cold water and approximately 1 minute of mixing.

gallery_3085_2455_221679.jpg

This is a 5+ pound batch, so I decide to roll up some logs for later.

gallery_3085_2455_36855.jpg

Wrapping it semi-tightly and trying my best to shape the mass into an actual log. I give myself a B- for rolling :wink:

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Most of the yield. Each log had a net weight of 1 pound, 3 ounces. Later today I'll take one of them out of the freezer and (as soon as it firms up) and throw it on the smoker.

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The rest of the yield from batch number 1 . . .

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Getting there . . .

gallery_3085_2455_104752.jpg

Just about done . . .

gallery_3085_2455_129646.jpg

Finally, it's breakfast time! :smile:

This was an incredibly simple, fun and delicious recipe. At this point, I think it's safe for me to invest in a stuffer and buy some casings.

=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, Jason, Ben, and Betty, for your responses. Betty, I'll see if I can find that book around here to snoop at the recipe. Ben and Jason, I'm going to try to work through your comments and respond:

Chris, i would thikn a cool, dry place is about 60deg. F, and about 50% RH.

Ok, so I think I can use my basement when it isn't raining -- that should work.

Regarding the salt petre, use cure #2 (since this item is dry cured), in the proportion of about 28g to 25lbs of meat.

Jason, when would you recommend adding that cure #2? At what stage of the process?

As far as the proportions of soy/sugar, it seems that the sugar and dark soy are there to counteract the over saltyness of the soy. I think this is going to be trial and error.  Take good notes, and since the this is done in strips, you could make multiple trials at once, and then decide which you like more. Do one with 1:1 ratio of soy/dark soy, one with 1:2, 2:1 etc.

Brilliant.

My answers don't help much, sorry.

I disagree -- thanks!

Re: salinity. The best answer I can give you is "according to taste". Lop yook is considered one of those salty meats that is used in small proportions in a dish or as a meal extender on the Chinese table. Lean towards the saltier side (dark soy and salt).

This is consistent with what you write below about the marinade tasting "heavy," Ben.

Re: saltpetre. Not essential if you will be keeping lop yook refrigerated, but it is a nice safety measure if the stuff is to be kept in dry storage. Alcohol performs the same function, as a bactrerial inhibitor, and because it adds that characteristic taste to the finish product, I always use a bit.

Re: sugar. After you mix the marinade but before you add the pork, taste it. The marinade should have a "heavy" taste that comes from the dark soy, and sugar and salt combination.

Re: time. The longer the meat is marinaded the more intense the flavour. I usually leave mine overnght.

Sounds good.

Re: Temps and conditions. I used to hang the stuff in my sunporch late in the fall with the windows open at least a few hours each day. A cool basement would work as long as you use a fan to move air around it and it is less than 60 degreesF.

Yeah, I was thinking about a fan. Glad to see that makes sense.

Re: precision??? Ya gotta be kidding. Best recommendation is to buy some commercial stuff and use that as a benchmark.

As it turns out, I found some of the homemade lop yuk made by the mom of the purveyor I've mentioned; I went in on a very busy Lunar New Year shopping weekend and the owners grabbed one strip from a special order she made for someone's banquet. I'll be using that as a benchmark, I think.

So, again, thanks thanks thanks. I will be trying to write all this up and record it.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Chris, add the cure #2 to the marinade. For safety sake, i would go "light" on the cure...too much cure can be dangerous.

Oh, i saif 60F 50% RH pretty much as a guess. Ben makes it sound like you need to have movement of air..so maybe a big fan in the basement can help with that.

when i make pancetta i dry it at about 54F and 70% RH. It could use less humidity, but i keep it at about 70% since all my other salumi require about that much.

PS, i looked on amazon at that link, and funnily enough you can read the lop yuk recipe in the book free of charge.

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This was an incredibly simple, fun and delicious recipe.  At this point, I think it's safe for me to invest in a stuffer and buy some casings.

=R=

Looks really good Ron..

As some of us have discussed previously on this list, did you find the fat to lean ratio in the pork butt satisfactory in the end product? Or did you add extra fatback to your meat mixture.

woodburner

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Ronnie . . . That sausage is the spittin' image of the sausage patties that my Great Aunt Minnie used to cook and then use the pan leavin's to make her gravy to go on her incomparable biscuits. We discussed this in the biscuits and gravy topic.

I just recently got the book and will definitely try this one. The biscuits, however, still escape me. :sad:

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I did not add extra fat and I think the fat content was just right. But, when I ordered the meat, I told my butcher that I was going to make sausage and he probably took that into consideration. Also, when I picked it up I asked him again, just to be sure, if he thought it was fatty enough for sausage or if I should buy some extra fat. He told me thought it was fine -- and it was.

But, I could see there being cases, especially when making other types of sausage, where you may want a bit more fat than what the butt alone provides. And if you (pre) order the meat from a butcher you trust, it's probably best to let them know what you're going to do with it, or they may try to be "nice" and give you some leaner stuff. Of course, if you buy the butt unbutchered, you can manipulate the ratios fairly easily, since for a 5-pound recipe, you won't have to use the entire butt and you can customize your meat to fat ratio as you cut 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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Interesting that you're posting about the meat:fat ratio question. I just opened up a "pork shoulder butt" (trying to be all things to all people, I guess) from Whole Foods, and unlike previous cuts this one was not trimmed to excess. After eyeing it, I decided that I was going to go with no added fat, just the thick, white shoulder/butt fat that was still part of the cut. I'm very curious to see what that ratio is like.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I've been a busy little charcutier! What fun this experiment has been so far. I can't wait to dig further into the book.

I started with the duck prosciutto. Incredibly simple and really delicious. I used Moulard breasts from Hudson Valley Foie Gras, so they're on the large and fatty side. A couple of images:

gallery_8954_2456_1845943.jpg

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The family munched on some prosciutto just now and reviews were mixed. The fattiness threw off the 5 y/o and my wife. My 3 y/o and I loved it. I'm going to use some for a fig and prosciutto pizza tonight. Yum!

Then I moved on to the bacon and pancetta recipes. Here are the bellies. One naked, waiting for the pancetta treatment, one in the cure for the bacon.

gallery_8954_2456_106508.jpg

The bacon cure went much faster than the pancetta cure. I've no idea why they reacted so differently, but the pancetta was considerably less firm after 8 days. I decided to go ahead and start the drying process tonight since it seemed that it was about as firm as it was going to get.

I smoked the bacon yesterday after the 24 hours of drying. It took some time to get up to temp, but I ran a fairly constant 200 degrees using an upright smoker with charcoal and apple wood chips. It took me about five hours to get to 150 degrees internal temp. I was very pleased with the look when it came out:

gallery_8954_2456_87310.jpg

gallery_8954_2456_59382.jpg

It cooked up nicely, though I found it was a bit more sensitive to burning than normal bacon. The rest of the family decreed that we won't be buying bacon (even Harrington's) anymore.

Last, but hopefully not least, I hung the pancetta to dry tonight:

gallery_8954_2456_30841.jpg

Whew! Lots of fun over the last couple of days. I think sausages are next...

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Nice job, bigwino!

That really looks sensational. I too, would love to know where you decided to stash the pancetta.

I've had some trouble with my smoker today because of the wind here but all is well now and the internal temp is up to about 115 F. I didn't realize I was out of apple wood so I'm using cherry instead. Bottom line is that I've hit this belly with a tremendous amount of cherry smoke while the temperature wasn't exactly climbing in the box (I even threw the belly into the freezer at one point while I built my fire back up). Who knows, maybe that will approximate the cold smoking step to which Michael alludes in the book. :wink:

Congrats again on your results! :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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I'm hanging the pancetta in my basement. I put a cross country ski across my wine racks and hung it off of that. The basement maintains a nice 50 degree temp and 50% humidity at this time of year. I did the duck prosciutto in the same space.

I'll have to either figure out another option or not do any dry curing in the warmer months, when it gets into the low 60s down there. Not optimal for wine, probably a bad idea for cured raw meats.

Next on the list is to source some local heirloom breed hogs for future projects.

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Since I keep my wines down there, I like to know what the environment is like. I actually have two temp/humidity monitors. Nothing sexy, just stuff I bought at Radio Shack for cheap money. They both keep highs and lows, so I can see what the story is at any moment as well as the fluctuations.

I've been paying attention to them much more closely since I started hanging meat amongst the vino!

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I'm happy to report that the bacon I made turned out absolutely delicious. The final stages took a bit longer than I anticipated. Between some trouble with the smoker and relatively high winds, I estimate that it smoked for about 7.5 hours over cherry wood. This may not have been a bad thing since it was exposed to smoke for much longer than if things had gone according to schedule. The finished product is great -- it's intensely salty and sweet but it also really tastes like pig, which I don't normally find to be the case with purchased bacon. Even the edge pieces are tender and perfectly chewy.

Here are a few pics of the process . . .

gallery_3085_2460_161412.jpg

Raw bellies, skin-side up.

gallery_3085_2460_213501.jpg

Raw bellies, meat-side up.

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Bacon cure; a viscous and grainy paste.

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Shmearing the cure over the belly.

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Detail of cure on surface of pork belly.

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Pork belly covered with cure.

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Pork belly in bag after 2 days of curing. Notice that the paste has changed to liquid.

gallery_3085_2460_12426.jpg

Pork belly on day 8, after the cure has been rinsed off.

gallery_3085_2460_65661.jpg

Detail of cured and rinsed belly. Surface has a sheen which was not present on the raw belly.

gallery_3085_2460_271996.jpg

It's officially bacon now. This is the belly after it was smoked over cherry wood to an internal temperature of 150 degrees F.

gallery_3085_2460_57383.jpg

Detail shot of smoked, cured bacon.

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Removing the skin from the finished bacon.

gallery_3085_2460_218392.jpg

"Raw" bacon slices.

gallery_3085_2460_16606.jpg

The finished product. Absolutely delicious!

=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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Oh, wow.  Inspiring post, ronnie!  Actually, your post has just sent me out the door to pick up my own copy of Charcuterie.

I had a quick look at at while at New England Mobile Book Fair recently. Was looking for Dan Lepard, had to order him from England, but now this book is definitely coming home.

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Ron, that's a great job of photojournalism. The bacon looks terrific.

It's interesting how much lighter your bacon turned out than mine. I would've expected it to be darker given the long smoking time. Maybe it's the difference in apple vs. cherry smoke?

Are you keeping the skin? I've held on to it and think I might add some to a batch of baked beans to see what they'd do to it.

How's the pancetta coming along?

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