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.