Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas salami/salumi

The title infers some sort of special salame. I assure you there is no such thing. I had to cater an affair for Christmas eve. So, I was instructed by the "boss" to have a salame ready for Christmas. This should have been ready in time. Usually, I pull my salami at about 45%. This measured in at 41%. It felt a touch soft for me, but, it was crunchtime. For this salame, a finocchiona, I used the same ratios and same ingredients I use for my dry rub. 3.5% salt, 1.75% hot Calabrian pepper powder, .8% "wild mountains" fennel seed. This was my first attempt at using natural casings(besides N'duja). due to it's slight softness and color, there was an abhorrent comparison to pepperoni. In DE-fense of the OFF-ender. It does resemble the deplorable American pizzeria topping. It tastes great. Good heat, and a pleasant fennel backdrop. I can't wait until it hardens a bit more. One thing I noticed using large beef middles as opposed to collagen casings. With the collagen, the forcemeat always seems to have gaps in it. What I mean is, when sliced thinly, it has holes in it. Now, there has never been any mold issues with any of these gaps or holes in the forcemeat. It's just a slight imperfection affecting it's appearance. Well, first glance at this salame in the beef middle, and not a single gap in any of the forcemeat. If anything, I can say these were under stuffed, in anything. Needless to say, I may have stuffed my last salame in collagen. Anyone else had similar issues?
As for the Christmas "salumi." As I mentioned above, I was responsible for catering a soiree for roughly 30 people. As if that weren't enough, I was given instructions, again, by the "boss," to make some "interesting" meat to hang in the fridge. The quotes are used to illustrate an interesting point. This is the same lady who wanted to throw me out of the house for the unsightly second full size refrigerator in "her" kitchen. Apparently, it was now a conversation piece. I had just become a freak show. Don't think for one second I'm bothered by the implication............I filled it, gladly. But, on such short notice, my options were limited. As you can see in the pictures, nothing new or out of the ordinary. Luckily, I had a bresaola curing for 2 weeks, so, that was ready in time to hang. Pretty straightforward. Cured for 2 weeks, hung in a 90mm collagen casing. You also see the 2 jowls provided by my local butcher. Salt, sugar, pepper and thyme. Finally, you see the pancetta arrotolata. While walking past the same meat display I've walked past nearly 3 times a week for the past 2 years at a local gourmet store, I was struck by a glowing white beacon. That of a beautiful piece of pork belly. Half became ginger and sage bacon, the other half was rolled into arrotolata. Bear in mind, I almost exclusively go tesa these days. Particularly because it makes no difference taste wise. It also tears the shit out of my hands trying to tie it so goddamn tightly. However, The "boss" suggested that it would make for a better presentation. Arrotolata it would become. How convenient. There you have it..........the Christmas salumi freak show.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

N'duja sneak peek

I pulled one down last week, but, mowed through it before I was able to snap off a picture. So, without further ado, here it is. Yes, it IS as hot as it looks. It may be just a touch firmer than I would like. I didn't use a starter culture, but I did use cure #2. I went with .25% as the default percentage for #2. Perhaps next time I'll use a touch less. It's only been hanging for about 3 months. I say only because, traditionally it is dried for about a year. It tastes wonderfully. I upped Larbo's ante, over at This Little Piggy: N'duja and pushed to 25% total weight in pepper(both paste and dried), and it sure feels like it. I takes a couple seconds to ignite, but when it does, it doesn't disappoint. The funny thing about this salame is the more you eat the hotter it gets, while at the same time it tastes better and better. By the time I got through just a half of a small chub, I was red faced and trying not to breath through my mouth, as the air hitting the inside of my mouth was excruciating. May seem like a fool's call me foolish. I' ve never had an authentic N'duja, but, these ingredients are as authentic as they come, and I have to imagine that tastewise, it's pretty close.