Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Venison Salame..........Once again

It's been quite some time, over a year, to be exact, since I've made venison salame. Shame, too, because it really is fantastic and pretty damned easy to make. But, honestly, I haven't made any due to the fact that I haven't been given any venison. I'm told it's been a slow deer hunting season. I find this a bit of a conundrum as I can't keep deer from eating the plants in backyard. Who knows. Finally, my cousin brought me 3 lbs. of freshly butchered venison. This was super lean, crimson red BLOOD red. I like to keep something this special really simple. I don't muddle it with too many ingredients, just salt, hot pepper powder and fresh garlic. That's it.
I ran this meat right through the grinder. It was butchered so thoroughly that there was NO fat and no connective tissue. I added 30% pork fat(jowl in this case). I used 3% salt, a pretty hefty 1.5% hot pepper powder, a couple fresh garlic cloves along with the obligatory cure #2(.25%) and lactic starter(.09%). Stuffed them in some beef middles where they will ferment for an undetermined amount of time. I've been going back and forth on the fermentation time and temperature and still haven't nailed anything down yet. I think I'll try 48 hours @ 80 degrees this go around. They should be ready in 4-5 weeks when the results will be posted.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mangalitsa Guanciale

Here is that enormous Mangalitsa jowl that's been sitting in my curing chamber for several months. Just looking at the pictures you can tell this was a pretty special pig, or you can just assume he had a huge face ! I feel like the superlatives are redundant at a certain point, so, I won't gush. I always have "working" guanciale on hand, so, this was just a luxury. Also, when I saw the size of it, I knew it would be next to impossible for me to leave without it. I'm fairly confident I can make this guanciale disappear. Like I wrote, I always have "working" guanciale with which to cook. So, last week I needed some guanciale crisped and rendered for a recipe. The allure of using this stuff became overwhelming. I know it's heresy, but, I cut some up and cooked it. I keep looking through a thesaurus for synonyms for absurd or ridiculous and the like, but, I think I'd rather just describe how it tastes. Imagine that there was crispy pork flavored candy....................because there is! Seriously, if I were blindfolded, that's what I would have thought it was. Sweet, salty, porky candy. This stuff will definitely spoil me, I'm afraid. I am, as I have previously described, a guancialophile. I don't know how I'll be able to go back to "regular" guanciale after this. If you have the means to procure it, I highly recommend it.