Thursday, November 11, 2010

Casing the Tuscan Salami

This all happened Monday night. It was time to grind, stuff and hang this batch of Tuscan Salami. The grinding and stuffing is pretty easy. The hardest part of that is cleaning up. The difference between a pretty easy fresh sausage and the more difficult salami for me is the butcher's twine. I still can't tie a salami nicely. That being said, I am pleased with how this batch of slami went into the chamber. I hope it ends up tasting as good as it smell now. Here's how I spent my Monday evening....

First up, I got some casings soaking. The casings are salt packed so they need at least half an hour to soak. I also flush them out a few times. The beef middles were very different than the hog casing. Probably to be expected since the two animals are also very different. I had expected a difference in size, but not a difference in texture. Here are the two types of casing soaking. Hog casing on left, beef middle on right.

Next up, toasting some fennel to get added to the meat before the grind. This also smells good.

I tossed in the toasted fennel and started grinding. For the benefit of the camera, I only took a picture when I was done grinding.

I split this up and gave the meat a quick mix with the paddle attachment on the Kitchen Aid. No pictures of that. Then it was time to flush the casings and get stuffing. Well, after cleaning up all the grinding stuff and taking a quick break. I did the the beef middles first.

After stuffing two larger salami, I stopped using the beef middles and went onto the hog casings.

After stuffing six of the smaller diameter salami, I put the leftover beef middle back on and mad one more larger salami with the rest of the meat. Here's what I ended up with:

Now it was time to tie them up and weigh them. It took a little while. The first delay was finding the butcher's twine. I keep it on my spice shelf. It wasn't there. I looked all over the kitchen. It wasn't there. I asked my wife if she had seen it. "The girls have it, I thought you gave it to them." Not sure how or when they took it, but it was over by a craft table and I think they had been making necklaces with it. Once I had the string, the pace picked up a little bit. Not much though. About an hour later every thing was weighed, labeled and tied up. Once again, I give you salami in bondage:

These went into the chamber which got sent up slightly different than last time. Still the same piece of plastic hanging from the floor joists, but this time the humidifier isn't on the floor. Instead, it is on top of the winner cooler I bought off of Craigslist to cure salami in (it didn't work - wine fridges don't work like regular fridges and if you close the door you will have 100% humidity, no air circulation and you will be growing fuzzy, nasty looking mold).

I hung the salami fairly low. The idea was to have the humidity fall to the level of the salami and not be in the line of the humidifier fan.

The last thing I did was about 12 hours after the salami had been hanging. I bough another culture. This one is supposed to bloom a beneficial mold on the outside on the salami and prevent the case from drying out before the middle of the salami. I bloomed three grams of the culture in a little over a cup of water. Then I pour the cultured water into a lasagna pan and rolled the larger salami and 3 of the smaller salami in the water. Then I hung it up again. No signs of this culture bath doing anything yet.

The humidistat on the humidifier consistently reads 70%. The humidity readings I get on the indoor/outdoor gizmo (the little white box next to the salami in the picture above) are consistently 60%. My guess is that the truth is somewhere in between. The temperature in there seems to fluctuate between the high 50s and low 60s (Fahrenheit). The salami will hang until they have lost about 30-40 percent of their original weight. Hopefully, some will be ready for Thanksgiving.


  1. hee hee *giggle* penises in condoms!

  2. No way to avoid thinking of a condom as you slide casings onto a stuffing tube......

  3. Oh, they look so good!

    Say, would you know where I could find some really good cured meats locally? I am really gunning for something similarly meaty to Jamon Iberico (total longshot) after spending the weekend watching Anthony Bourdain reruns. Really good prosciutto? Anything that's intense and can be sliced thinly and nibbled on, really.

  4. For Jamon Iberico, my guess is that you would need to get to Manhattan. I've never seen it up here. I'd love to try some. For prosciutto, my favorite is at Pellagrino's on Central Ave. If you would like some other things to go with your prosciutto, I would recommend their olives, especially the brine cure and green ones they have inside the deli counter.

    For other cured meats, you can get some small high end salamis there, but they can get pricey. In a cooler that has their pizza dough and pepperoni, they have a sweet sopressata that is sold under the brand name Abruzzo (I think that is how it is spelled). It is wrapped up in a plastic wrap and a day or two unwrapped in your fridge will help, but this is one of my favorites.

    If you'd like to put together a plate, I'm sure someone there would help you. Benny is a great guy and how he remembers so many names...I'll never know. Talk to him for a few minutes, I'm sure he'll remember yours too.

    The store is one of my happy places. Have a crappy day and then walk in there. It all seem to get better. Forget Disneyland, go to Pelligrino's.

  5. Since the original condoms where sheep intestine...

    A comment on grinding, always grind the meat into something in an ice bath.

    As for proscuitto, make your own, it is not expensive and only takes two years. There is a wine cooler in the family room that will hold two 18 lb hams. We will harvest one on Thursday, and the one in the freezer will be defrosted and start curing on Monday.

  6. If I had an ice maker, I would probably use an ice bath. My work around is a small hand-me-down refridgerator that I keep on the cold side. The meat was probably at 34/35 degrees during the grinding. It goes back into this fridge during any lulls in activity.

    Not ideal, but I never have the foresight to either make enough ice in advance or buy a bag on the way home. Definitely agree with you that is is better technique.

    How do you control the humidity in the wine fridge? The only time I used one for curing, the relative humidity inside was over 90% from the water coming off the salami. That's when I moved to this makeshift chamber. I would think a ham would initially throw off a lot of water. Sounds great though.