Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Charcutepalooza Project #11


Well, the Charcutepalooza Challenge is winding down. And this isn't a project you can finish at the last minute so when I had a little time, I got started. Normally, I grind and stuff sausage on the same night. Unfortunately, I usually start these projects at 9 after everyone has gone to bed. The grinding and stuffing don't take that long. It's the cleaning up that is really the pain in the ass. And with this project you have to add making all kinds of bastardized knots. Sure the knots probably aren't supposed to be bastardized versions of real knots, but I was never in the scouts. I excel at shoe laces and if the situation called for it, I think I could remember how to tie off a line to a cleat on a sailboat. That's about it. Instead of grinding, stuffing and than playing with twine on the same evening (which in the past has ended close to 2 am), I split the work up.  On Saturday, I cut up the pork butt I purchased from Sweet Tree Farm and mixed it with all the Tuscan Salami ingredients. On Sunday, I ground the meat and mixed everything together. On Monday, after my trick or treaters were passed out in their sugar induced comas, I stuff the salami, tied it all up and hung it in the basement. Here's the play by play.

I brought out the pork butt and cut up the meat. The ratio of pork to fat looked good to me so I didn't supplement the mix with any back fat.

Once the meat/fat was cut up, it was weighed (1711 grams for those of you keeping score at home).

This particular formulation was created by Chef Bob del Gross over at the Hunger Artist. For the record, I am not sucking up to a judge. Instead of trying something new, I wanted to try and repeat a previous success. As far as curing salami goes, I have always tried something new and had success as well as a few failures. Therefore, in a roundabout faulty logic kind of way, I am trying something new by attempting to repeat previous results. That's my rationalization and I'm sticking to it.

Armed with this weight, I was able to calculate how much of the rest of the ingredients I needed. Starting from the top left corner and working clockwise you have: a glass with a little over 3 grams of Bactoferm F-RM-52 dispersed 28 grams of distilled water, a bowl with 37 grams of Kosher salt and 5 grams of Instacure #2, a bowl with 23 grams of dextrose, a bow with 9 grams of toasted fennel (left half of bowl) and 9 grams of coarsely cracked black pepper (right half of bowl), a small glass bowl with 6 grams of minced garlic, and finally 137 grams of red wine.

Every thing got mixed together and went back into the fridge for a good soak. Then I drank the remaining 600 or so grams of wine. Pretty tasty. See, the metric system can be fun. That was all on Saturday.

On Sunday, I ran everything through the grinder.

Once the meat was ground, I mixed in any remaining liquid (kind of in the left of the photo) and stirred to combine. Here's what went into the fridge on Sunday.

After Halloween came to an end on Monday, I put the meat into hog casings. This isn't the easiest thing to photograph when working by yourself. As a general rule, my wife prefers our digital camera to remain sausage free. Here's the set up. I put the canister of the vertical stuffer in the freezer for a while to get cold. That's why it is frosty.

Got the casings ready to go and the meat in the stuffer.

A few minutes later, all of the salami are stuffed and ready to be tied.

With a new episode of Beavis and Butthead on in the background, I sat down at the table and began to tie up the salami. The show had a few smiles but it was funnier in 1995 when drinking a beer 1:30 in the morning with your roommates while winding down from finishing an engineering assignment in college. When Beavis and Butthead was over I turned on an episode of Community and kept making knots. The lesson I took away from this 45 minutes or so of playing with twine: next time, turn on the radio. Here are the salami in bondage.

Each string of salami was weighed so I can keep track of moisture loss. The weight was written on a piece of masking tape and stuck to the bottom. The ambient humidity in the basement is pretty much right in the salami's wheelhouse. The humidity, measure by the little white box at the top/center of the picture  moves between 60 and 65%. The air temperature is also in the low 60s. I took down the plastic drop cloth I have used in the past and I'm just going to let the salami hang out down there. They will probably come down in another week or so. I hope they taste as good as they currently smell.

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