Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sopressata Part 1

Got the meat curing tonight. The pork but is from Cardona's on Delaware. After preparing this, they are my new official supplier of sausage pork. Pork looked and smelled good. I look forward to trying it in some fresh sausage in a few weeks - this years Summer in February celebration is on Valentine's Day and I'll be making some for that. Here is the sopressata recipe I am using. The proportions are basically ripped from the pages of Charcuterie. The two numbers in yellow are a guess. The total meat and fat number is correct. I will look and see how the meat is grinding later this week. I might add some more fat. The meat/fat ratio of the pork looked good to me. Hard to be sure though.

Weight (g)
% ingredient
Grind fine
Belly fat
Grind coarse
Total meat and fat


Instacure #2

hot pepper

Garlic, fresh
Fine mince
Pepper, white
Coarse grind
White Wine
Dextrose powder

Bactoferm F-RM-52
Disperse in water
Water, cold

non fat dry milk powder

Here's what I did tonight starting with gathering all the seasonings. From the right: garlic, cure#2, dextrose, salt, white pepper, hot pepper and wine. The bactoferm stays in the freezer expect when I'm using it, the bottle of distilled water was handy enough and the non-fat milk powder will be added later.
The wine was recommended buy a salesmen at All Star Wines in Latham. The recipe calls for a Pinot Bianco. I've never had one and he recommended this Pinot Gris. I'm not much of a white wine guy. I always go red. A true connoisseur.  I was pleasantly surprised by this wine. It is very sweet, but has a nice flavor that I hope intensifies as the sopressata dries. 65 milliliters for the salami, the rest is for me. Here's 3 grams of bactoferm weighed out. It gets dissolved in the distilled water.
And then everything is measured and ready for mixing. I cut the pork into long strips. I read on THE Sausage Debauchery that the pork just swirls around the auger and grinds easily. Definitely worth a try. If it isn't working for me, the pieces will be easy enough to cube.
Off to the fridge for a few days for the bactoferm to bloom. I didn't get around to setting up the curing chamber today. Should only take a few minutes tomorrow. Grinding and stuffing should be Wednesday or Thursday night.

Friday, January 29, 2010

And so it begins....Sopressata

Yesterday I ordered a bunch of different casings from Butcher & Packer. I'm getting some that are natural and a little bit bigger than typical sausage casings. I'm also going to try out some collagen casings. And while I was ordering, I picked up a pound of pink salt (aka DC Curing Salt, Insta-Cure, or Prague Powder #1). I've been giving some of mine away to people interested in making their own bacon. Pretty sure my friend Mike has some slabs curing in his fridge as I type.

This project was supposed to start earlier in the month, but for some reason January got very hectic. Back in December, I purchased a bunch of pork butt at Cardona's. Vacuum sealed it and put it in the freezer. A good three week freeze eliminates any doubt about trichinae larva in the meat. I'm not sure how much it impacts the quality of the final product, but I'm new at this so I'm going with all the safety precautions. The meat came out of the freezer today. I'm planning to cut it up and season it on Sunday. I'll fire up the humidifier in the mock chamber on Sunday too. The mix will sit in the fridge a few more days and then I'll grind/stuff/hang later in the week. I've got all the spices together, just need to pick up a bottle of white wine.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The revolution will not be pasteurized

A friend forwarded me this piece on raw versus pasteurized milk written by Nathanael Johnson. I thought it was an interesting read. One of the people profiled in the article is a Canadian farmer named Michael Schmidt in Ontario. I think the world would be a better place if there were more people like him around.

The first portion of the article describes a few federal "busts" of raw milk deliveries. It is both funny and sad. A barn was raided by officers wearing hazmat suits. Kind of funny. Kind of sad. Another section talks about Dannon yogurts and their probiotic products. Anyhow, if you have some time, you might find this interesting.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Product Review - Brooks Original Chicken Sausage

I saw this today in Price Chopper.

I'm always looking to see what's available in the meat case, so I picked up a package to give it a look. A 12 oz. package costs $3.99. The ingredient list looked OK and the package is labeled gluten and lactose free. I was still on the fence about buying them. I'm not the biggest fan of Brooks. I have never eaten at their restaurant in Oneonta, but I have had food from their roaming, fund raising crews. I was unimpressed with the chicken or ribs. I have heard that the food is better at the restaurant than it is in a church parking lot. What really caught my eye and got these sausages tossed into the cart was the small print that said the product was "Crafted and and distributed by Old World Provisions." I went into a serious depression the day Old World closed their outlet shop. Any company of producing that pastrami has earned the benefit of the doubt. If they make it, I will try it. Two links went into a pan and got heated up with dinner tonight.

The sausage is just so-so. The sound "eh" would be fitting. The kids didn't like them. the texture is very fine, like a hot dog. I thought they were a little sweet. Almost had a maple flavor to them. They might be better on the grill. Two other flavors were available - teriyaki and Buffalo wing. Not sure I'd go back for more. But if you ever get the chance to have Old World's pastrami...jump at it. I've heard Ben and Bill's is doing a good job picking up where the outlet left off. I think I'll be heading over in the near future for a pastrami fix.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

"Marshmallows, chocolate and crackers are yummy!"

Well, the weather was in the mid 30s today. No wind. Perfect time for winter grilling. I had some steaks and zucchini. The steaks got some gray salt before going on the grill. The zucchini was grilled plain and got tossed into a quick vinaigrette.

Instead of cutting all the air to the coals when I am done cooking, I sometimes leave the vent open a little. The temperature drops while we eat, but the heat comes back quickly when the lid comes off. Once the coals are fired up...the marshmallows come out.

We made a bunch of smores. After her first smore, my oldest daughter imparted these words of wisdom, "Marshmallows, chocolate and crackers are yummy!" It was a good time.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My 2 Cents

Before I throw a hissy fit, let me start with a friendly "Happy New Year" to all who pass through this site. All the best in 2010.

We spent the week between Christmas and New Years on the road. My in-laws house, an out-of-town friends gathering down in Westchester and then off to the burbs of Baltimore to spend some time with friends from college. It was a fun week. But....there were two things that pissed me off, besides traffic.

While in Maryland I was in a Walmart (why it is frequently pronounced Wall-Marts I'll never know). Personally, I don't like the place and avoid it. I don't think I'd say the store is the root of all evil, but then again maybe I would some days. I do feel the store is partially responsible for the shift in our culture where it became desirable to buy crappy things as long as they are cheap. This decay has been called by some "the Walmarting of America." While the store may not be entirely at fault (people buy the crap they sell), I believe the decay in standards is very real and getting worse. Think I'm wrong...stop by the Olive Garden on Wolf Road this Friday at 6:00 and tell me how long the line is. Then wait in the line and eat there. I triple-dog-dare you.

Anyhow, the particular burb of Baltimore we were visiting, was about a 30 minute drive to the closest similar store (Target, K-Mart, or other chain that isn't coming to mind). My buddy wanted to order some photo prints off a flash drive. Then we were off to pick up a vanity he needed some help moving. No big deal. While he was loading pictures into one of those picture kiosks, I roamed the store. Since I am kind of a food nut, I went right to the kitchen aisles and was faced with the first thing that pissed me off. Apparently, Paula Deen has a line pots, pans, bowls, tea kettles...the works. They are all ugly, el-cheapo enamel on wafer thin steel. Why would she put her name on this crap? Clearly for the cash, but why not put your name on a decent product? I'm not saying she deserved to get hit in the face with a ham, but I believe the song says "Instant Karma's gonna get you. Gonna knock you right in the head."

The second thing that pissed me off this weekend was here at the house. I was putting some stuff away in the kitchen and noticed a Snickerdoodle recipe on the side of a bag of Domino brand sugar. I love a good Snickerdoodle. They're great. So I looked a little closer. The recipe was from Sandra Lee. I took a deep breath and read on. This domestic goddess wants people to buy a package a premade sugar cookie dough, put it in the bowl of a stand mixer, whip in a few ounces of cream cheese, some confectioners sugar and some vanilla. Then roll the dough into balls and coat with cinnamon sugar. I am not a cookie expert by any means, but skip the premade dough and break out flour, eggs, some butter and maybe some baking powder and you've made them from scratch. Let's find out. I just googled "Snickerdoodle recipe" and here's the ingredient list from the first entry which comes to us from the probably very nice people at compared to Sandra Lee's recipe (I really need to learn how to make a table here)


granulated sugar......................granulated sugar
baking soda
cream of tartar
all purpose flour
....................................................confectioners sugar
....................................................package of dough
....................................................cream cheese

The semi-homemade version has 6 ingredients (not counting the list of who-knows-what in the cookie dough) for the home cook to gather. An actual homemade snickerdoodle has 8 ingredients. Since you are supposed to be doing this in a stand mixer, one only needs to add the following to Sandra Lee's directions :

1) unwrap butter (very easy)
2) measure flour (pretty easy)
3) crack an egg (the most skill intensive aspect of the homemade recipe)
4) add in baking soda and cream of tarter (measuring spoons can be tricky but I'm sure Paula Deen is selling them in several reassuring colors at your local Wall-Marts)

Are we so freaking screwed in the head that we can't be bothered to measure ingredients into the stand mixer? Really?!? I can't believe this lady has a job.

I just thought of a third thing that pisses me off. I probably could have made 2 dozen Snickerdoodles in the time it took to write this rant. Whose the idiot now?