Monday, June 29, 2009

Look at my big sausage!

Another summer holiday=more sausage. Needless to say, there are 2 different sausages here. The one on the outside is an apricot, rosemary, garlic, vermouth sausage. On the inside, we have a hot pepper, anise seed sausage. I know you are thinking the apricot sausage may seem a little challenging. I cannot take credit for the idea entirely. While watching "Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie," a segment was filmed at Salumeria Biellese, which I have frequented on more than one occasion. Anyway, at the end of the segment a fresh sausage was being eaten, it was apricot, garlic and brandy sausage, sounded good to me. So, I put my own spin on this odd sausage. However, it sure doesn't taste odd, it's friggin good, dare I say great. Perfect salty, sweet, with a slight rosemary taste in the background. The other sausage is very good as well, not overwhelminhly hot, although it's color would have you believe differently. Once again, back to the well of using that same dried Calabrian chilli powder, to the tune of 1.3%! One thing I am having trouble with, even with the use of pink salt, is gray sausage. It turns gray almost instantly, even as it's being stuffed. I used more pink salt this time around, about .2%, still gray. Has anyone else had this problem? It seems I have this issue every time I make fresh sausage. Doesn't affect the flavor, at least.

More beefy deliciousness

Just pulled this out on Friday. This is the bresaola from the May post. As you can tell it is pretty well done. Tastes great, texture if very good as well. As stated in the title of this post, just beefy goodness. Simple.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bacon madness

First off, I'd like to preface this entire post by saying it is the product of too much free time and an overactive imagination. Yesterday, I procured another entire pork belly, ribs attached. With the ribs removed, I figure this to weigh 8 lbs. give or take. So, I'm looking at doing 4 different 2lb. slabs. One will be a tesa, leaving 3 rashers of bacon. I plan on curing the tesa with the same flavor profile as my porcini salame, which is dried porcini powder, fresh and dried sage and garlic. Now, on to the bacon. I will do one of the sage, ginger, garlic bacon(basically, Ruhlman's breakfast sausage made into a bacon cure). For the second, I may go rosemary, fennel seed, hot pepper, honey, lemon zest. As for the last, this is where I think I've gotten a little weird. I was thinking of orange zest, brown sugar, hot pepper, mint and..............unsweetened cocoa powder? Bear with me. It seems to be fashionable lately to pair chocolate and chillis. I also have seen plenty of bacon and chocolate combinations. So, I figured it might work. And, let's be honest, it's bacon, would it really taste bad? I'd like some input prior to actually starting. Ideas, thoughts, opinions? Let's hear 'em. Sorry for the poor picture. Thought I'd take a quick snap of the curing bacons/pancetta. Top left is cocoa, bottom left rosemary, fennel, honey. Top right is sage, ginger, bottom right is the pancetta.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

N'Duja Disaster!

I saw this one coming for weeks. I noticed it was drying strangely. I inspected it and found that there were empty spots, big gaps. Almost like it dried in sections and pulled apart from the rest, this was in 2 different spots on the n'duja. I pushed it down just to compact it back together. It was definitely too late. As you can see by the picture, it is certainly not spreadable, it is dry and crumbly. It also had some mold on the inside, between the meat and casing. I think 2 things were at play here. #1. The use of the starter culture combined with the dextrose was a mistake, obviously, it dried out too much. #2. Collagen casing- I say this beacause the casing did not properly adhere to the salame, not allowing it to dry well, and is what caused the internal mold. Weird that the starter culture dried it out too much, but, the mixture started out too wet for the artificial casing to adhere. That's an easy fix, next time, no starter culture/dextrose, and the beef middles are in the mail. OK, all this N'duja bashing tastes damn good. As I removed it and cut it open, I found myself gnawing on a handful of crumbs. The salt content is perfect. The pepper paste is very pleasant and hot. Next time I think it could even be hotter. The perfect vehicle to throw in some of the Calabrian dried chilli powder. Back to square one.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My new toy

Nope, not even a dad. For anyone who doesn't know what this's a Big Green Egg. I won't go into too much detail, however, suffice to say, there has been a lot of hyperbole regarding this item. So, either I have been taken for a sucker, or it's dynamite. I tend to lean toward the latter. It's supposed to sear to temperatures at or about 700 degrees, perfect for steak or pizza. But, it also grills indirectly, and is a smoker as well. That being the case, instead of purchasing separate smokers, and kettles, etc., I decided to purchase just one item, as I have very little room to operate. I'm hoping the learning curve isn't too steep. I fired it up a little while ago. Getting it started gave me a little fit, but, once she got fired up, she went. Got it up to 600 degrees, and threw on a pork chop. Came out pretty good, actually. Anyone with any experience, I'd love some tips.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Double Heresy!

Funny, how when I think outside the box, it's really just an exercise in pigeonholing me right into my own. What the hell does that mean? Well, I love this season. I love to cook on an open flame. So, after watching one too many "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives," I wanted to get in on some southern style barbecue. One problem, there is a deplorable, abhorrent ingredient in barbecue sauce.................KETCHUP. I loathe it. I call it the crutch of the undeveloped palate. I don't think I use it on anything. The moment I slather it on anything, all I taste is ketchup. But, I like the idea of a finishing sauce. This is where the heresy comes in. What I did today, offended 2 groups of people. I offended Italians AND BBQ-ans :). I made an Italian dry rub and developed an Italian barbecue sauce.(As if such a thing does or even could exist) That explains me thinking outside the box. What I did was think outside someone else's box, so I could feel more comfortable inside my tiny, safe, little Italian box. Anyway, I made a dry rub of Sicilian sea salt, Calabrian dried hot pepper powder and fennel seeds. To this, I added some fresh sage, and lemon zest with a little fresh garlic, with olive oil and lemon juice. Beat it up in the Cuisinart, and poured it on. I tossed the lemon in the cavity and trussed it up, let it sit for 2 hours. In the meantime, I developed the sauce. Started by sauteing red onion, added garlic. I added some double concentrate Italian tomato paste. I let that caramelize for a little while, then added red wine vinegar. I reduced that down, then added the secret ingredient. I used the roasted hot pepper paste with which I made the N'duja. Into it I added some anise seeds, honey, lemon zest, sage leaves, and bay leaves. Cooked it down for a half hour or so. This thing was super hot, in my opinion it needed more sweet. Either way, it was still super tasty, and right up my alley, as far as flavor profile is concerned. In the end, as you can see by the picture, it was successful. If making something this good to eat is called heresy, I'll be a heretic any day of the week. Gonna try some heretical baby backs tomorrow!

Monday, June 15, 2009


My interpretation of such. Boneless pork poin which was butterflied(by yours truly), subsequently pounded out, rolled and tied. I'm aware of the cultish following this meat preparation has in Italy. So, by no means, do I state that his is an actual porchetta. However, I DID spit roast it, so, I will claim it was made in the STYLE of porchetta. Regadless, I sauteed my own guanciale, red onion, fennel, and some garlic. Added some fennel seed, pecorino, eggs and fresh bread crumbs. I spread the stuffing over the butterflied loin, rolled it up and tied 'er up tightly. Threw it on the spit for just a bit under an hour(removed about 148 degrees). Absolutely fantastic. I'll definitely try this on a fattier cut of meat soon, like the butt recommended in the Zuni cafe cookbook(I've read nothing but rave reviews). I've prepared this in the past and there's always been leftovers. I can attest there is not a better cold cut ever produced that can rival a slice of this on a roll or fresh, crusty bread................It was not to be this time around. Sucks.
Something else occurred to me. I am the sole cook in my household, and I do so 4-5 times a week, yet all my posts are salumi related. If there is any interest in me posting plain old cooking posts, chime in, I'd be glad to throw up some more posts!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Salumi Removal

Removed the 2 salami and the lonzino today. The salami were ready last week. The lonzino just today.
The 2 salami are the two featured in the second chance salami post. The one pictured in the middle is the oregano, blood orange zest, cardamom. On the right is the porcini, sage salame. They were removed at a touch over 43% weight loss(maybe 43.3%). They both look great. The porcini salame is the one that gave me a textural issue last time around. I think I may have forgot to add dextrose, preventing it from binding correctly. This time around the texture is right, with both, I should add. As far as flavor, the porcini salame really is outstanding. This opinion is shared by everyone who's tried it. I highly suggest anyone who makes their own to try this. The oregano salame is really good as well, but, eating it after the porcini salame does it no justice. It is certainly a good salame, worthy of reproducing.
This lonzino is the lonzino pictured on top in the lonzino carousel post. Cured with fresh oregano, lemon zest and hot pepper. It was removed at 40% weight loss, which usually would seem a little high for a lonzino, but, it was perfect. Great texture, good flavor. I thought it might be a little challenging or odd with the lemon zest, but, it is surprisingly mild. Porky and delicious. Successful all the way around.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Venison Salame Redux

Went to the butcher the other day to buy some jowls and some butts. I gave him some of the venison salame I made several months ago. He gushed about how good it was. He then proceeded to give me a semi-frozen chunk of venison and asked me if I wouldn't mind making more. "Sure", I said. So, with absolutely no intention on making any more salame for awhile, the semi-frozen venison told me differently. This is exactly the same ratios as the last one I posted and I hope it turns out as tasty. I'm waiting to see if I'm going to have a similar issue as last time with the casings.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sopressate di Calabria

Well, in the style of Calabria, at least. This has always been my favorite salame. However, all the recipes I have found to this point have been uninspired. So, I decided to try my own. This is based on several recipes(Poli, Ruhlman, Bertolli, Kutas) I went with a high percentage of dried hot pepper powder from Calabria(about .5%) also added .1% crushed red pepper, along with some black pepper, white pepper, fresh garlic and white wine with a splash of vermouth. Cure #2 and F-LC starter were used as well. What I can't figure out is why with all that pepper powder, I can't get that nice red color. I sprayed them with some M-EK-4 mold. They will ferment at about 70 degrees for roughly 48 hours. They were stuffed in 60mm collagen casings.