Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Speck Projects


I finally committed myself to attempting a leg speck project. This was always a salume high on my list, but happen to be a bit ignorant in the butchering department. I should say incompetent and/or not confident as opposed to ignorant. I know what it is, just don't know how the hell to harvest it. Well, my oft-mentioned salumeria owning friend bought a couple hams on which to practice. After staring at an already completed speck from Alto Adige, he got to it. That would be the speck on top. The following week, I guess he got the bug again, he called to tell me he had yet another even larger speck, which is the big boy on the bottom. Little speck was cured with rosemary, fennel and juniper. After I cured little speck, I wanted to kick myself for being stupid. When I was in Ortisei, I went into a small supermarket. There was a rack of cookbooks. I flipped through the Italian cookbooks(Italian or German were the choices). One of the books had a chapter dedicated to speck. There was an entire page with a step by step speck walk through. I completely forgot about the book until after I put little speck in to cure. Lucky for me there was big speck. This was cured with garlic, juniper, bay, anise, fennel and caraway. They were both cured for 3 weeks. At that point, they were rinsed and left out for a couple hours to develop a nice pellicle before getting hit with a boatload of cold smoke. I gave the pro-q cold smoker a good workout, smoked every day for almost 3 weeks(only 2 of which were for the speck). I used some mixed harwood dust along with some ground up juniper berries. The juniper berries were a suggestion of Kristoph Wiesner passed along to me via Heath Putnam of Wooly Pigs. I had to settle on the berries after my desperate search for the actual juniper wood didn't pan out. But, I will state that the berries definitely worked. The smoke released by the berries were pungent, exactly what I was going for. 50 hours each of cold smoke and they were hung in the chamber. Look for me to crack these open some time around March-April.

12 comments:

  1. exciting stuff, I cannot wait to hear how these come out!

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  2. what is the diff between Speck and Country Ham aside from the style of cut and the salt level? Sorry I missed you this w/end...

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  3. Forgive my ignorance, not sure if country ham is hot or cold smoked. I'll assume they're cold smoked. Like you wrote, aside from cut and salt level, probably not much difference.

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  4. Awesome. Any idea of the location of the cut on the pig? If it's from the ham, it must be a rather 'shallow' piece off the side? Any other advice on how to harvest from a whole leg?

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  5. Kevin, the ham was first deboned. Then, you basically cut the outermost "shell" of the thigh.

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  6. looks good scott.

    I just started to 30lb proscuittos myself.

    I've been lax on the posting, but will get some stuff up soon.. been super busy with work, but have made tons of bacon, smoked salmon, pickles, nocino ( walnut liquor ), lonzino, and basturmas.

    cheers.

    todd

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  7. Hello,
    I have wondered how to get this particular cut, on this website: http://www.speck.it/en/speck-alto-adige/production.html
    in the 2nd slide it looks like it's deboned then "butterflied" to lay flat. Is that how you did it, or did you actually cut a specific area? Any response is appreciated. Love your site.

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  8. Thanks, Todd. Waiting for a post from you.

    As far as the butchering is concerned, boning and butterflying is pretty much how it was done. Follow the muscle separation pretty much right across the middle. If anyone could chime in and clarify, that would be great.

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  9. Hi Scott, On the subject of juniper wood. If you google "juniper shrub" and look at the pictures and depending on where you live, you might find that you and your neighbors are growing these things in your front yards. A little trim here and there and you have juniper wood. Enjoy, Taras

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  10. Thanks, Taras. I have a hedge of juniper in my backyard. I dry and use them for my salumi. The problem is I need wood DUST to cold smoke corrrectly. The ground up berries were suitable until I'm able to locate the dust.

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  11. Hi Scott, when you say wood dust I assume you mean sawdust. For what its worth I have two suggestions. If you have access to a wood-chipper and juniper branchs run the wood thru a few times. My 9hp Craftsman puts out more of a coarse sawdust than chips. Especially when fresh cut and wet. I do a lot of smoking but we don't use a lot of juniper for that. the Evergreen wood thing. You can find juniper chips but I've never seen any sawdust. Here in the Pacific NW they cut a lot of juniper. Like a pig the whole damn tree is used for something. The sawdust is bagged and sold for cattle fodder. You could try to find a sawmill in NY that cuts juniper. Lots of them out here. Google "where to buy juniper sawdust" Some sell retail but by phone. I don't know the quantity required. Here's one to start you off. Northwest Sustainable Building Supplies,phone- 503.775.1025, email-sales@nwsbp.com. If they don't sell, they may point you in the right direction. Sorry if I was long-winded. Hope this helps, Taras

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  12. Scott,

    Do you use insta cure #1 or 2 for the speck cure?

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