Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Prosciutto Cotto

I made this back in October. I had to hold back on posting while waiting for Jason to post his. I won't drag this on because this is, for all intents and purposes, HIS recipe, which was developed by Alessandro Morreale. Jason was nice enough to draw it up for me to try. The only difference with mine is in the cooking process. I don't have access to sous vide equipment, so, I had to improvise. I placed the ham in a baking dish and weighed it down. I set the oven to 200 degrees F and brought it up to 155(about 5 hours) and removed it. I allowed it to sit in the fridge overnight for flavor development. I was pleased all the way around with the taste. The only thing I would do differently next time is attenuate the amount of allspice I used. I do admit to having something of an allspice aversion, however. If you have the patience to make brine, subsequently inject, then spend several hours cooking it, I recommend trying this.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Schulterspeck/Speck di Spalla/Shoulder speck

I was fortunate enough to be bequeathed some more Mangalitsa to cure by Michael. Among the several cuts I received was a shoulder. Prior to receiving said shoulder, I planned on making a Spalla Cotta, which is a cured, then cooked shoulder stuffed in a bladder. Well, plans have a funny way of changing. The shoulder I received was more akin to the cut used for leg speck. I was told that the coppa was removed and it was basically flattened, as pictured. In my suspension of disbelief, I skinned it, still thinking I could roll it and tie it and make the aforementioned salume. What a friggin mistake. I knew it, too,

even before I did it. I mean, it was abundantly apparent that Spalla Cotta was no longer a possibility. Oh well. So, here I am with a skinless piece of shoulder that is unsuitable for Spalla Cotta. Now, due to it's being skinned has become less suitable for anything for w
hich it would have been suitable had I left the skin ON. Make sense? It will. I went home and pored over all my books, researched German language Italian websites(odd, I know),
and consulted some Italian salumi forums, the best of which being this one. I knew that in Sudtirol, that they make speck with almost
every cut. I also knew that they did make speck with this actual cut. The problem is finding enough detail to actually make it. With some help over at the Italian forum, combined with my research, I found something concrete. I decided to go with rosemary, garlic, allspice and black pepper as my seasoning, as seen in this terribly non descriptive picture. Further research revealed that the smoke should be provided by beech wood, which I've subsequently purchased. In about 2 weeks, this will hit the smoke, along with s
ome other new salumi, like speck di carre or karreespeck and speck di coppa. I'll be writing about those in the near future.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

For those of you interested..........

I have acquired several of the strange, obscure and hard to find casings. I will list them and then link where I used them. Among the casings are hog middles(Salame Mugnano and 'nduja recently), hog middle end caps('nduja), hog bladders(2 sizes, boccia al finocchio), hog bung ends(I haven't used, but they look really nice for salame), and beef bladders(culatello). Anyone interested, please email me: scott@sausagedebauchery.com, they are NOT listed at the store. Thanks.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Culatello results

Just a short 7 and a half months after I put it in to cure, it's ready. Typically, culatelli cure for a longer period of time. However, this felt pretty firm after the aforementioned time. Prompted by Jason to cut it open, I went for it. I was more than a little surprised, a bit dismayed, even. It was really firm, too firm. It was so lean, it overdried. Shame on me for not weighing it and tracking it's weight loss. I assumed that I would just remove it at it's 10 month birthday. I guess I won't be making that mistake again. It tastes just fine, quite mild and salty. It's just so excrutiatingly lean and very dry. Nowhere near the texture of culatelli I've tried int the past. So, somewhat disappointed by my ineptitude, I just left it in the chamber, slicing a bunch off to eat from time to time. Fast forward a month, and about midway through the culatello, it transformed. It became something better and exciting. It softened greatly and intensified in color and took on the appearance of a real culatello. I'm not going to sit here and tell you I had something to do with it, the middle just has a larger circumference. It is a completely different animal from the culatello into which I cut initially. While still a lean piece of meat, it does appear to have a bit more fat in the section pictured. So, it would seem a successful project. Definitely worthy of another go, no more commercial practice meat. I'll see if I can get my hands on a Mangalitsa leg.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mosefund Mangalitsa Speck results

I got a couple of these mega speck back in April from Michael Clampffer. I cured and aged these exactly as I did these. Only difference is the quality of the meat. Totally different ballgame, as you can see by the marbling and the fat cap. As far as tasting is concerned, I am completely flabbergasted. I am delighted that I write everything down in my little notebook. Had I done this by the seat of my pants, I would be beside myself. This is awesome in every sense of the word. I'm sure 95% of it is the sheer quality of the product, but, I certainly didn't do anything to get in it's way. The smoke is perfect, not just in a smoky way, but, a tinge sweet, perhaps? Sliced thinly enough, the fat melts on your tongue, pretty amazing. Perfect smoky, hammy deliciousness.

There was a bit of concern during it's drying. My old chamber is so well inoculated with mold, the speck developed a really thick layer of white mold. I'm talking 1/8" worth. I left it due to it being mostly white, however, about 2 months in, some green spots moved in. No biggie, I just gave them a pretty thorough bathing in a vinegar bath. Then, I realized there was some standing water in the bottom of the chamber of which I was unaware. It was hiding under the Styrofoam on top which I place the humidifier. This contributed to a somewhat musty smell in the chamber. I removed all the salumi and cleaned out the chamber with a bleach and water solution. Smell taken care of, but, there goes all the mold I developed in there. I noticed a bit of the smell on the speck as well, and was a little apprehensive that I ruined them. So, after 4 months of drying I took it out to see where it was. I split it right down the middle and out poured the most incredible smoky, pork perfume I ever smelled. Unbelievable. This is most likely the best salume I have produced to date.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mosefund Manga Salame Felino

This is a Salame Felino I made using both lean and fat from mangalitsa pork from Mosefund farm. Felino is a town in the hills near Parma in Emilia-Romagna. This salame is renowned for it's austerity, using just salt, black pepper, and garlic macerated white wine. Since it is also typically a salame made to be on the softer side, I chose to stuff these in somewhat larger beef middles.

I received some lean leg meat and some backfat from Michael Clampffer to make this salame. I used 85% lean and 15% backfat. They were both ground on the smallest die, which I believe to be 3/8". Along with the aforementioned salt, black pepper and garlic macerated white wine, I added t-spx lactic starter and cure #2. They were stuffed in beef middles which I soaked in mold solution. They were fermented for close to 80 hours and developed a really thorough mold coating. They were hung to dry in the curing chamber. Since some of them were needed after just the 3 month mark, they were removed and still very good. The salame pictured was aged for 4 months and is really quite lovely. Still a touch soft, perfect amount of black pepper and just enough garlic flavor to be pleasant. The one thing that really stands out is how tender the meat is, terrific for this application.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mosefund Mangalitsa Lonzino di Calabria

As you can probably tell, I didn't take this photo. It was taken by Michael Clampffer. This is lonzino, yes Lonzino. I know......it looks like no lonzino I've ever seen, either. The marbling is just sick. Looks more like beef. This was done in the exact same fashion as the capocollo from my previous post. The
loin was cured with only salt and cure #2. It was then removed, rinsed, then rolled around in peperoncino powder to coat. Finally, I stuffed it in a beef bung and left to dry for about 2 months. I think next time I think I'll add crushed red pepper flake as well. While casing these, a lot of the peperoncino powder was rubbed off, making the spiciness inconsistent from slice to slice. A little flake should provide a some consistency. It tasted as good as it looks. Silky and rich with a nice hint of heat. Awesome stuff.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Capocollo di Calabria via Mosefund Farm

After 5+ months of waiting, we finally have a result. And what an amazing result it is! Thanks again to Michael Clampffer from Mosefund Farm for providing me with the best raw material available. This one is really simple. I've made coppe in the past and posted about them in fairly good detail. This Capocollo is simple as far as these things go. Simply cured with salt and cure #2 for a couple weeks. It was then removed and rinsed in a red wine vinegar bath, patted dry and rolled in peperoncino powder to cover. Stuffed in a beef bung, allowed to
'ferment" overnight and hung to dry for the aforementioned 5 months. One thing I've been doing differently lately, and I did with this capocollo, is soaking the casings in the actual mold dilution as opposed to spraying them. There is quite a difference in mold coverage. Soaking them provides a much heavier, consistent mold cover. However, the dilution is rubbish upon completion of stuffing. So, if you're a mold miser, this process is not for you. I find it quite effective and reliable and will continue to employ it. If you plan on making this, please do not sully your meat by using paprika or cayenne, use the real thing.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mosefund Mangalitsa 'Nduja results

Here is the result of my previous 'nduja post. Honestly, I don't think I'm capable of producing 'nduja any better than this. I think this one looks awesome and tastes great. The texture is perfectly smooth and spreadable. The really light amount of smoke is just enough to come through. The hog middle end caps really made a difference as far as the appearance of authenticity. The 'nduja pictured aged for roughly 90 days, but, was perfectly fine at 60 days. Should have a new batch going in soon. Short post, I know, but, I HAD to show this one off. If you haven't yet made 'nduja and are thinking about it, don't forget you can get all your supplies at my store.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Fiocco/Fiochetto- byproduct of Culatello butchery

Fiocco or fiochetto, whatever you choose to call it, it is delicious. This salume was the byproduct of my culatello process back in January. Due to it being only 1/3 the size of the culatello and noticeably leaner, it dries much more quickly. This was really a no brainer. 3.5% salt, .25% cure #2, that's it. Cured it for about 14 days. Then stuffed it in a hog bladder, trussed it, tied it, hung it and forgot it, just as you see in the first pic. 52 degrees and 70-75% humidity and 4 months later.........voila! Fiocco! Not really much more to say about this. If you're going to butcher a culatello, might as well harvest this and make it as well. I've already eaten quite a few sandwiches using this. It is quite lean and subtle, yet still really moist and "hammy."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Salsiccia di Calabria....."My Calabria" style

After my initial post on this, I conferred several times with my friend Rosetta, who is the author of the outstanding book, "My Calabria." I was fortunate enough to try some of her father's Salsiccia di Calabria. Rosetta informed me the recipe is exactly that of the fresh sausage recipe from the book. Easy enough, I figured. However, the recipe doesn't call for a starter or any nitrate. But, that's no big deal at all, really.

This time around it was just some pork shoulder with the addition of some mangalitsa fat from Mosefund, only 10% of the total weight. Salt, hot pepper powder, sweet pepper powder, and some fennel seeds, along with some cure #2 and f-lc starter.......that's it. I stuffed these in regular hog casings. Fermented for close to 80 hours. They were hung to dry at 52 degrees and about 79% humidity. I'm not quite sure what's been going on in my chamber recently, but, my salumi have been taking an inordinate amount of time to dry, my salame, in particular. Typically, salame I make stuffed in regular hog casings can be done in as little as 3 weeks. For some reason, this wasn't ready for a whopping 8 weeks! I speculate that it could be the lack of moisture in the mangalitsa fat, but, at only 10% of it's total mass, that seems unlikely. When I introduced that lot of 30lbs. of 'nduja, the humidity jumped to over 80% and averaged about 82% for a couple weeks, but, that still shouldn't delay drying to that degree. So, I'm at a loss for an explanation.

Regardless, the flavor seems unaffected by the chamber's issues. It is very tasty. Perfectly balanced to where everything can be tasted and no component overwhelms. I did vary the recipe slightly. I only used half the sweet pepper powder the recipe called for and replaced the other half with hot pepper powder. The rest of the recipe was followed closely. As you can see by the picture, the powders turned the fat orange. Good stuff. I suggest buying this amazing book and giving this one a try.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

'Nduja quickie

Won't bore anyone with details of a salume about which I've posted several times already. What sets this particular batch apart from the others is #1, I used hog middle end caps to case them, and #2, I used some sweet pepper powder or pepe rosso in addition to peperoncino powder. The hog middle caps are significant in that along with hog middles, they are what are used to case 'nduja in Calabria. The sweet pepper powder/pepe rosso was used this time as a means of correcting the color I've had in prior batches. My previous efforts have been a touch too dark. After several discussions with Rosetta, author of "My Calabria" she suggested I use the pepe rosso to get that fantastic, glowing red color. I decided on using 17% peperoncino powder, along with 13% of the pepe rosso. I think Rosetta had it right, and I think I nailed it, just look at the color. I decided to avoid prolonged smoking this time in an effort to preserve this great color. Whether or not that had anything to do with it's color is not definitive, but, why take a chance. So, just 2 days smoking. However, I lit the smoker from both ends to increase the intensity of the smoke and cut down on actual smoking time, 2 sessions of 8 hours each and they smelled much smokier than in the past at the same smoke hour. Usually, I ferment for about 48-72 hours, then smoke. But, I had a couple days in the northeast where it was about 60-65 during the day, so, I smoked during the fermentation phase, and I believe it was pretty successful. Hung to dry for about 60 days. Other than that, nothing else special to discuss. Just eager to see how this one turns out.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Salame di Mugnano

This salame comes from the town of Mugnano which is right outside of Naples in Campania. Jason did a post on it in January, so, I won't get too in depth. Which leads to my next point. This salame was a collaboration of sorts. As Jason was describing it, I became intrigued.................hot pepper, cold smoke, I'm in. So, we devised a recipe to follow to see how the same salame prepared by two different people would differ in appearance and flavor. There were several differences in our recipes. As usual, I went overboard on peperoncino powder AND black pepper. I actually used twice the amount that Jason used. My black pepper content was 1.5%, while I think Jason's was somewhere near .4%, so WAYYY more. The other difference was the fat component. I used fatback versus pork belly for Jason. Everything else used was the same, although I'm pretty positive my salt % is higher. I used F-LC starter along with .5% dextrose. I stuffed this into hog middles, which is a new casing for me, just recently acquired. These hog middles look great, very authentic, they also dry perfectly and evenly, a delight to use. Although, their diameter is slightly larger and they take quite a bit longer to dry. I fermented for about 80 hours at 70 degrees. They were then cold smoked for 12 hours. This was a difficult salame for me to try and reproduce. I had no point of reference as I've never eaten it before, all I had to go on was Jason's description of it. With that, I certainly didn't want to oversmoke it, so, I only went with one smoke session. I then hung them in my chamber at 53 degrees and 78% humidity. A seemingly endless 11 weeks later, it was pulled down and sliced. The result is what you see above, looks awesome......I think, anyway. It tastes as amazing as it looks. It is rather spicy, which is right up my alley as you may have read here prior. Still, what's amazing about this peperoncino powder is that it provides not only heat, but a wonderful pepper flavor and seldom overwhelms as the meat flavor is totally apparent. I can't speak on it's authenticity, again, I've never eaten it, but, I CAN say it's great, nevertheless and certainly worth making. I may make this my default salame. Thanks to Angelo again for taking the lovely photo.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Speck results

4 long months of waiting is finally over. This is the smaller of my 2 speck projects. As you may be able to tell from the picture, that is certainly not a photo I took. Thanks to Angelo, not for just the picture, but for slicing and the actual harvesting of the cut. There isn't much to add from my initial post about this item in December. They dried for nearly 4 months in my chamber. I had to remove them on several occasions to be wiped down with a vinegar solution based on the mold build up. However, after about their fifth washdown, I noticed that the mold was all white and wasn't returning with any fervency. So, I decided I would just let it go and see what happened, while keeping a close eye on it. Strangely enough, the mold returned, grew a bit and then kind of faded. Lucky, I guess. I pulled it down out of curiosity last week and noticed it was rather hard in spots, and made the decision to cut into it. Great decision. It is fantastic. Keep in mind, this was done with just regular commercial pork. As this was my first attempt, I make it a rule to never use heritage or super top quality pork for practice. I can't imagine having to throw out a $200 piece of pork. It looks perfect, quite reminiscent of the speck I ate in Sudtirol. Smoke is near perfect as well. Very moist still on the thicker inside slices. Just delicious. I'm not alone in that regard, I brought this over Angelo's house the other night and after everyone got their greedy little hands on it, I am left with what you're looking at in the picture. Good thing I have big speck lurking in the chamber. This is one of my favorite things I have made to date.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bresaolina di Cervo Affumicata

I gave everyone a break by posting about Lardo from Tuscany. I'm going back the Sudtirol well with this. Bresaolina di cervo is a small bresaola made from venison meat. This is one of the salumi I actually ate at a restaurant called Tubladel in Ortisei. It was soooooo good, I had to reproduce it, or at least try. What stood out to me while eating it was the pungency of the smoke. Quite obviously achieved with the use of juniper wood. I asked the server how it was made. He returned after a brief consultation with the chef(I guess to get permission) and told me it varied from producer to producer as to what was used, but, rattled off a bunch of things that ARE actually used, like rosemary, sage, marjoram, caraway, bay, nutmeg, juniper and anise were those I remember. Then he told me it is cold smoked for several hours a day over the course of the week with juniper wood..........of course. At least I now had a good point of reference. The first time I was to attempt it, the venison wasn't butchered quite well enough for me, so it became the Kaminwurzen, about which I posted previously. In the meantime, Jason and I discussed what he should do with his nice cylindrical piece of venison. So, he went ahead and stole my idea. ;) I'm glad he did, his looks amazing. However, he did not smoke his.
Finally, my cousin showed up on New Year's day with 4 good looking "roasts," which are ubiquitous with venison hunters/butchers. I'm beginning to learn the "roast" is the entire deer anatomy outside the "backstrap" in that world. So, I really don't have much of an idea what part of the animal it is. Gun to my head, I'll say it's from the leg. When I got them defrosted, all 4 small pieces were suitable for my application. I went ahead and cured them with salt, black pepper, caraway, bay and cure #2. They only took a little over a week to cure. I rinsed them and stuffed them in beef bungs. For the smoke component, I tried something different. I've been using the pro-q cold smoker for quite a long time. Recently, I bought a new cold smoke generator called the a-maze-n smoker. I was perfectly happy with the pro-q, but, I kept getting in trouble with wifey because there was candle wax everywhere from the tea light used to light the pro-q. I'd also received an earful for dipping into her tea light supply. Jason just informed me about this new device the day before, and when I saw that the a-maze-n came with a mini torch with which to light it, I impetuously bought it. No more wax trouble. In a nutshell, this is the cold smoke generator I used to smoke the bresaolline. I used a mixed harwood sawdust along with some crushed juniper berries which I added to the sawdust. (side note: I think I finally found some juniper sawdust). What's different about the new smoke generator as opposed to the pro-q is that it can be lit from both ends, producing twice the smoke. Having cold smoked several salumi with the pro-q, I can state that the smoke flavor is very subtle, barely noticeable. Which is nice, especially for 'nduja. However, the smoke flavor I tasted in Sudtirol is much more aggressive, yet, still not overwhelming. Still......very smokey. That was my intention. So, I lit both ends. It smoked, a LOT. That reduced my smoking time from 12-14 hours down to about 8 hours per day. My notes say I put 40-45 hours of smoke on these, about 4 days. They were then hung in my chamber. Keep close watch, they're so lean, they only hung for about a month. I put them in on February 2 and pulled them out on March 3. As you can tell from the pictures, they look terrific. As for the taste, I could tell the minute I opened them that I hit it out of the park. I could smell that same pungent smoke I have been after. A couple of thin slices confirmed it. It was exactly the smoke flavor I remember tasting at Tubladel. Still apparent were both the bay and caraway, so I think I nailed it. Even have that really nice smoke ring on the outside as well. If you have venison in the freezer and don't what to do with it, wonder no more!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mosefund Mangalitsa Lardo

Yet another salumi created from the never ending lug of scraps from Michael of Mosefund. I know it seems like a bottomless pit of usable scrap. But, I won't apologize for the amount of posts I've been able to squeeze out of one scrap pile. It sure does seem like an inordinate amount of salumi, though. Now on to the Lardo. I read up on Lardo di Colonnata again in various sources. Lardo di Colonnata has been granted IGP status in Italy. Colonnata is a small town near the larger town of Carrara where the famous marble is mined. Miners would take a piece of lardo with them to eat while at work. It would then seem to make sense that they use marble curing bins or a "conca di marmo" in Colonnata to cure their Lardo. In the absence of said marble bin, I would have to make due with a heavy duty tupperware container. Same concept, but, the marble bin is a lot cooler, oh well......soon enough. After trimming it and squaring it off a bit(a very little bit), I cured it in the style of Colonnata. Which is to say, I was inspired by Colonnata, but, being from NY and not Tuscany, and depending on the norcino, cinnamon and clove could be included in the curing process. Since I have a bit of an aversion to both when used in curing(I feel they overwhelm), I kept to my recent theme of austerity. Starting with the curing, I did something I've been doing recently, I cured with only salt and cure #2 for a period of time........17 days this time. Put it in the tupperware container and off to the chamber. Curing completed, I rinsed off the salt and cure, then added the concia, or spice mix, which in this case were garlic, rosemary, black pepper and bay leaf. I threw it back in the tuppperware into the chamber for over 2 months. I kind of forgot about it, honestly. When I was lamenting the end of the "scrap heap salumi, " I remembered the lardo and thought, "How the hell did I forget about that?" I think this is the simplest of all salumi. Throw a little salt on it, put it in tupperware and forget about it. Of course, I'm not sure it would be effective if you did this with fatback from the supermarket. I am just lucky enough to have a giant slab of mangalitsa fat to play with;). The strangest thing about this fat is how quickly it gets soft......almost instantly. I really wanted to cut a few slices thinly with the machine, but, the lardo doesn't cooperate. Coming out of the chamber, as soon as you handle it, it wants to get soft and melt on you. What I've discovered is to put it in the regular fridge for awhile to stiffen it up. On that note, it's actually safe to cure Lardo in the regular fridge as it has little to no moisture in it. After an hour cool down, I was able to get a couple real thin slices. I toasted up some crusty bread and watched the magic as the lardo makes contact with the warm bread. It turns translucent and melts into the bread. Awesome. Luscious, fatty deliciousness. If you're able to get your hands on some quality fatback, this is a must.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pushing the Envelope- Mosefund Mangalitsa 'Nduja

This was totally unnecessary, yet irresistible. Again, I refer back to that lug of scraps that Mosefund Michael gave me. As I wrote in the guanciale post, there were quite a few jowl and belly scraps. I really wanted to do something spreadable with them, and I was leaning towards Ciauscolo. I mentioned this to Michael, well, I don't think I got the words out of my mouth and he blurted out, 'Nduja!" Very well then, sir, 'Nduja it would be. Readers here most likely find 'nduja pedestrian at this point, as I have littered this blog with 'Nduja posts for well over a year and a half. But, this one was going to be different. First of all, I had just returned from Italy having eaten 'Nduja in 3 different locations in Calabria, and was ready to knock it out of the park. Secondly, using this meat is just a silly extravagance.

As written in my blog about chasing salumi in Italy, 'Nduja was the crown jewel in the salumi holy grail for me. At my uncle's house in Santa Cristina d'Aspromonte, he told me to go to a small salumeria in Gioia Tauro. He failed to mention the dirt roads through the dark fields at night I would have to navigate to find said salumeria. Finally found it, then drove right past it. So, I spun around and drove the wrong way down a one way street to get to it, then parked on the sidewalk. Anyone else alarmed by this? My wife was. This is not normal behavior. I ran inside and took the last one in the case along with a loaf of bread. Went back to the hotel and after having a rather large late lunch at my uncle's house, my wife and I devoured the entire thing with the bread for dinner. The next day, I was to go see my aunt and a couple of cousins in Reggio. On my way, I spotted a random salumeria. I thought, "oh no way I'm passing by this place." Unfortunately, I was going about 40. So, I slammed on the breaks and the tires squealed really loudly, then my wife asked me politely, "What the F$#& ARE YOU DOING!" I just pointed and ran out. I saw her shaking her head as I ran inside. Got a really good one there. Brought that to my Aunt's house and ate a bunch at lunch and left her the rest. When I went back to Scilla later that night, we went to the little gift store in town. Guess what I found? Yep, "'Nduja di Spilinga" in the jar. I'll let you know how that is when I open it. I'm weird, I feel like once I open it, it's gone forever. Instead, I just stare at the jar, wondering. While still in the store, I asked the woman where I could find the best 'Nduja in a 10km radius. She told me there was a small butcher up the road in Bagnara Calabra. Off we went, begrudgingly for some. I'm still not sure how I found it, it really was a SMALL butcher shop. Bought 2 from this lovely gentleman, who coincidentally lived in NJ for 4 years and still has half his family there. We destroyed one of those on the ferry to Sicily the next day. I don't know what happened to the other one ;) In a nutshell, there is some background on 'Nduja and me.

As for production. There really were a lot of scraps in that lug. I think I salvaged 7lbs. of usable belly and jowl scraps(after skinning and piggy hair removal). Which is a perfectly round number if one is going to make 10lbs. of 'Nduja. I ran the meat scraps through the 1/2" plate on the grinder. Not caring about smearing whatsoever, I gave it a second pass. My last 'Nduja, I only ran it through once and was unhappy with the texture, it was stringy almost. Second pass did the trick, the texture of this is absolutely perfect, exactly as I'd eaten in Calabria. For the peperoncino numbers, all my questions and all my reading keep throwing the same numbers at me, so there must be something to them, 60-70% meat, 30-40% pepper(hot/sweet combo) or pepe rosso and peperoncino. But, based on my experience with the peperoncino powder, it mellows dramatically, so I didn't see a need to mess with any of that sweet nonsense. Also, previously I have used "crema di peperoncino," which is hot pepper paste/puree. Again, all reading and research resulted in the discovery that this is not used in the production of 'Nduja, so out the window with that. Now what? That paste weighed a lot more than the powder and made it much easier to get to that 30-40% threshhold. That would be a lot of powder.......who cares, go high or stay home! I went 28% peperoncino powder and 2% crushed red pepper flakes. Also, I added salt, cure #2, f-lc starter and dextrose. These were stuffed in a beef bung and tied off into nice little packages. I fermented them for 72 hours and followed that with 50 hours of cold smoke over the course of 4 days, using a mixed hardwood sawdust in my pro-q smoker. This sat in my chamber for about 3 months and was removed last week. It is delicious and quite hot. In fact, I think Michael is annoyed with me for it being too hot. But, I don't think it's any hotter than what I had in Calabria, and it's not too hot for me. Sorry, Michael! Next up.......Salame di Felino made from Mosefund Mangalitsa(yes, the same scraps).

Monday, February 14, 2011

Culatello update

As promised, here it is. This was a bit labor intensive, but, it sure looks good. After curing for 3 weeks, I removed it and scraped off excess salt. I then gave it a bath in red wine for about 10 minutes. Then, the fun started. I stuffed this in a beef bladder. When I removed the beef bladder, I immediately felt a little uneasy. I thought, "oh, no way that thing is getting in there, that's ridiculous." I soaked the bladder in warm water for about 20 minutes. It stretched some, but, even then I thought I was going to be stuffing 10lbs. of shit into a 5lb. bag.......still no way. I proceeded to fill the bladder with water and hold it up, getting it to stretch out a little. I emptied it out and filled it up again. I performed this mundane task 4 times. Finally, I made the decision that if it wasn't going to fit now, it wasn't going to fit, period. I had to cut it down the middle to squeeze it in. Amazingly, it was wide enough to accommodate the culatello. The issue I know faced was it wasn't quite long enough. I had to stretch the end, pulling and turning, pulling and turning. I got out the trussing needle and magically trussed it shut. It looked a bit ugly, but, at least I got it closed. Now on to the fun part.......the tying. I'm not sure I can effectively describe the tying process, so, have a look here this exactly how I learned. Using hemp twine, basically, it's 4 vertical passes, which becomes 8 lines going around the culatello. At that point you start the horizontal passes. Starting from the top, you work horizontally, tying a half hitch around every one of the 8 vertical passes, spiraling your way all the way to the bottom. My horizontal passes are a little wide, I should have done more. But, my verticals are great, they stayed put as I ran my way around doing the horizontals. I think it's pretty impressive for just my second effort. I sprayed it with some mold spray and left it to "ferment" for about 24 hours. I hung it on Friday morning, 2/11/11(says it right on the label). There it will hang for 9-12 months. Look for me to cut into it sometime around Thanksgiving. Sounds waaaaay too long for me.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Kaminwurzen di Cervo

Venison Kaminwurzen. Yes, I'm going to bore you with yet another salume from the Dolomites. If any of this starts to bore you, please let me know. Otherwise, too bad. Everything I had while there I've been trying to recreate. I think I've done a pretty good job, this one included. Kaminwurzen(or Kaminwurz) is typical of the Val Badia and Val Gardena in Sudtirol. It is most often made with pork. However, I read in a couple books while I was there that can also be made with venison or comoscio(which is a native mountain deer). So, when I got a bunch of venison from my cousin again, I earmarked half for Kaminwurzen and the other half that looked like good, solid cylindrical roasts were to be used to make Bresaola di Cervo(venison bresaola), which, by chance, I also happened to eat there as well. Upon opening the venison, I realized that those pieces I intended to make into Bresaola were a little busted up, so, it all got turned into Kaminwurz. On to production. Sticking to my recent pledge of austerity, I researched my ass off. Finally, I decided on a real simple one. This has 70% lean venison, 30% pork backfat, salt and black pepper, cure#2, f-lc starter with some garlic, red wine and caraway seeds.............that's it. Cold smoked using the pro-q cold smoke generator for about 50 hours. Again, I used the ground up juniper berries as an addition to the hardwood saw dust. I'm still tinkering with how much cold smoke to lay on these things. I thought 50 hours was quite a bit. But, the several I ate in the Dolomites were noticeably smoky. But, 50 hours was not enough. While the smoke is definitely present, it isn't quite as noticeable as the native salame. Next time I'll give it 70 hours. I really think the juniper WOOD makes the difference. Some day, perhaps. I stuffed these in hog casings, fermented for about 72 hours, then hit them with the smoke. I read that in the case of cold smoking salame that you should ferment at the same time as you are cold smoking. That would be great if it was May in New York. So, I had to improvise a bit just to make sure it was fermented. This dried out for 5-6 weeks. I'm pretty happy with the results. With so few ingredients, it's nice to be able to taste each of them. Great garlic, caraway smoky flavors. Very, very pleasant. Looks pretty good, too..no smearing or case hardening. Try it.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lonzino Affumicato or Loin speck

Another salume inspired by my visit to Sudtirol. This was one I found on the shelves of every one of the several salumerie I frequented while there, and was eager to make it. I usually always have lonzino on hand as my wife enjoys it on a sandwich with a little fresh mozzarella. Seeing as I was running low, I decided to use a whole loin and make it 2 ways. This was initially designated for the Christmas Eve salumi plate. But, for some reason this loin decided it would take about 8 weeks to dry out as opposed to the usual 4-ish. Good thing........more for me. So, in true Sudtirol fashion, I cured this with caraway, anise and nutmeg, along with salt, pepper and cure #2 of course. Cured it for about 12 days, then cased it in a 4.5" beef bung. What separates this from lonzino is the cold smoke, hence the affumicato(smoked) designation. Still without the juniper wood dust they use in Sudtirol, I improvised again. Ground up juniper berries added to my hardwood dust does the trick. Cold smoking has become a non issue with these new cold smoking devices. It really is a breeze, once it gets lit, you can leave it alone for 12 hours or even more in some cases. This lonzino got 3 sessions for a total of about 36 hours of smoke. Seems a like quite a bit of smoke, but, honestly, it's not. While it can be tasted and it is pleasant and far from overwhelming, it still isn't as prominent as I tasted over there. Next time, I'll either try more smoke or more ground up juniper berries. Either way, I'm not complaining about how this one tasted, I'm pleased with it. I wish I could say at what percentage of weight loss I removed this, but, I mistakenly pulled it down prior to Christmas Eve to see if it could be cut. I knew it was far from ready, but, a little panic set in and I tried anyway. I know the common practice is 30% weight loss and it's ready, but, I prefer my lonzini a touch drier and harder than that. I believe 35-38% is a better number, for me anyway. Sliced very thinly it is very versatile and also delicious. My first Mangalitsa salame is ready, should be posted at the end of the week.

Monday, January 24, 2011


The elusive culatello. THE culatello is called Culatello di Zibello and is a DOP salume. Culatello di Zibello DOP is only made in a small geographic area in Emilia-Romagna near the Po river. It's salted and put away to cure for a couple days. Then some of the salt is scraped off, it gets re-salted along with the addition of black pepper. Then, it's rinsed with local red wine and cased in a bladder, then tied in a specific manner creating it's characteristic pear shape. It is aged for a period up to a year. I call Culatello elusive for several reasons. First off, it's not easy to harvest. Second, you basically wreck the entire leg to harvest it. 2 strikes off the bat, have to wreck a prosciutto and be able to harvest it. I have neither a leg I was willing to wreck nor the butchering skills necessary to harvest it. That's what friends are for, they say. Again, thanks to my friend who owns the salumeria and his father who makes about 20 prosciutti annually for the past 30 or so years, I was able to procure a leg I wanted to wreck :) AND, after showing him a couple pictures, he was able to harvest it in roughly 5 minutes. Salumi serendipity! He then tied it for me perfectly as well. Got home and uh-oh......realized culatello needs to be skinned. There is also something of a "tail" left over from the butchering process that needed to be removed. So, I had to cut the twine, then skin it, retie it, then remove that little tail. I then salted it(added some cure #2 as well). The picture you see is after initial salting, it's sitting in it's second salting along with the black pepper. It will be cased in a bladder at the end of the week after it's red wine bath. You ask what happens to the rest of the leg? Well, the bottom half of the leg, which would be akin to the hamstring is harvested to make fiocco/fiochetto, which I do have curing as well. The tail is used to make strolghino, which is a salame, as I was instructed by Jason. I'll try and post the finished and cased product at the end of the week. Mangalitsa 'Nduja and Salame Felino ready to come out any day. Look for them soon.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mosefund Guanciale

Yes, more guanciale. Sorry it's not something more interesting. But, I think I keep getting better and better, because this one really looks dead on. Interesting how this was acquired. I rescued this this out of a lug full of scraps given to me by Mosefund Michael. Most was intended to be used for salame. I made 10lbs of 'nduja with Mangalitsa belly and jowl scraps. Made about 5lbs of Salame Felino with some shoulder and neck scraps with some scrap fatback. But, at the bottom of the lug, I swear this thing lit up like the suitcase from "Pulp Fiction." No way I was scrapping it. I'd actually been looking for a jowl since I returned from Italy. While in Rome, I went to Antica Norcineria Viola and purchased some guanciale. I had a nice discussion with the Norcino. He informed me that in Rome, they cure guanciale with only pepper. So, after some research when I got home. I discovered this is indeed true. It's actually referred to as guanciale amatriciano. I cured this with salt and cure #2.; I removed it from the cure mixture, rinsed it off and then covered it with a freshly ground black pepper and peperoncino powder mixture. Left it in the chamber for about a month. Just pulled it down last night and cut some up to make, believe it or not, amatriciana. Great, great stuff.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Salame Toscano

This is the second salame made with the remnants of cutting a speck from the leg. I only call this Salame Toscano because I used fennel pollen from Tuscany in it. I hadn't yet used fennel pollen in a salame and was eager to do so. This was my second salame made after my austerity pledge. So, all that went into this was salt, black, pepper, fennel pollen, cure #2, dextrose and F-LC starter. That's it, plain and simple. In my zealousness to use said fennel pollen, I may have gone just a bit overboard. It's a little strong of fennel. However, being a fennelphile, I'm delighted with it. If you're looking for subtlety, this formula isn't for you, more like a fennel freight train. Ha! It's really not as bad as I wrote, but, it sounds better that way. In all seriousness, there is a touch too much fennel pollen. Everything else was done status quo. Run twice through 1/2" plate of commercial grinder, mixed with pork backfat that I ground up while it was frozen solid(thank god for commercial grinders). Stuffed in beef middles, sprayed with mold solution and fermented at 70 degrees for about 72 hours. Hung in my overcrowded chamber at 52 degrees at about 77% humidity. These took about 5 weeks to really stiffen nicely. Next up, hoping my mangalitsa Salame di Felino, 'Nduja, lardo and guanciale are ready.