Gary Cooper

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Suacisson Sec is done.

Saucisson sec

Last night I sliced a small piece of the Saucisson Sec off one link to see if it was ready. I took a bite and was instantly in Provence. In 2000 after walking around the ruins of the Chateauneuf Du Pape on that windy May day sitting down for lunch. We had bought Saucisson, Cheese, olives and Baguette for a picnic lunch. That is the taste of the sausage we made. There was a quibble about it however. I used too small casings. After drying it was only about 1 inch in diameter so there was a bit too much of the casing to the amount of meat. Overall a great success for my first dried sausage.

Update: The first saucisson I tested was a small link and while it was fully cured the second one I cut was not. I am going to try to hang them for a little longer. I may have ruined that batch.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

You're doing what? Why?

Most people who hear that my hobby is sausage making ask that question. It happens that a couple of years ago I got interested in making sausage at home. After doing some research I placed my first order to Butcher & Packer. 1 package of 29mm natural pork casings and the book Charcuterie The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman. In the early days I used my Kitchenaid mixer with grinder and stuffer attachments for the task. I bought a hand crank stuffer a few months later and now have a brand new grinder on the way.

I have over the months made a wide variety of sausages, many of them from Michael Ruhlman's book. I have made, Italian sausage in sweet and hot forms, Argentine and Mexican chorizo, smoked kielbasa, chicken apple, Cajun boudin, anduille, venison, breakfast and bratwurst. Most of them to great success with only a failure or two. It has become a hobby that I love.

With my sausage making buddies Chris and Brendon we have made up to 50 pounds of sausage in a single day. Of course it is all business for us. Strictly business
For months I have been wanting to do a dried sausage and finally a couple weeks ago we got together and made a saucisson sec.
I did some tinkering around in my wine cellar and got the humidity to a livable level by using 2 bowls of water, salted to prevent mold.

That weekend we made along with the saucisson sec another batch of the boudin and chicken apple sausage. We also did Pate de Campagne. Pate de Campagne
Soon thereafter I heard about the Charcutepalooza challenge. I came in too late for the first challenge but have dove in with both feet for the second one. The challenge was Pancetta or Guanciale. Being one who thinks that if something is worth doing it's worth over doing I decided to do both.

For the guanciale I spoke to Weldon at Emerald Glen farms and asked for a hog jowl. Last Saturday it was waiting for me at the farmers market in Nashville. When I got my bag home it was a 4 pound monster of a jowl. It had beautiful streaks of pink meat in layers of perfectly white fat. The rind was a thick slightly rough layer that, after some serious deliberations that included an impromptu e-mail to Michael Ruhlman, I decided had to go. Michael was kind enough to respond and gave me the guidance I needed to go on. “Take it off or leave it on, doesn't matter. But if you take it off use it in stocks to give a great body.”, he said. Peeled guanciale
Off came the skin. A little time and a sharp knife made it easy. I put the salt cure together and rubbed the jowl down thoroughly. It went into a zip top bag will be in the fridge for at least 4 days but with the size I think at least 7. Then I will take it out and put it in the cellar for 1 to 3 weeks.

Unfortunately Weldon didn't have any pork bellies but a local butcher shop did so I was able to procure that from him. The Belly was 10 pounds and about 24 inches long and 12 inches across. I cut it in half and put one half in the freezer while I skinned the other. Before and after
The process was much like skinning the jowl and in 10 minutes I had the glistening white fat layer exposed.
Peeled PancettaSkin
I mixed up the rub with freshly ground herbs and spices with kosher salt and some pink salt (curing salt).
Cure mix The Cure 2
I coated the slab of meat liberally and put it in a large zip top bag to join the jowl. Cold storage
Every day I have to redistribute salt and flip both the jowl and belly over. The Pancetta will then get rolled, tied and put on my shiny new PVC curing rack with the guanciale. Pancetta takes 3 to 4 weeks in the cellar.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Curing Rack Project.

In my house I have a wine cellar/closet which is set up with a chiller unit that keeps the temperature to a consistent 57 degrees and with a bowl of heavily salted water 65% relative humidity. So when the Charcutepalooza challenge came about I knew where the meat curing would happen. The problem is where and how to hang the meat while the curing happens. This is how it looked before.


So I started thinking about what to make the curing rack out of. First thought was wood. But really it would be time consuming to build and a bit difficult to keep clean. Then I thought PVC. That's the stuff that they use for modern plumbing, of course, and a quick trip to the Depot got my whole parts list. The whole thing cost just $9.02
To make a curing rack like mine you need to buy;
(2) ten foot ¾ inch PVC pipes. If you ask nicely they will cut them in half for free.
(4) ¾ inch T fittings Make sure that the T fittings are not threaded and that the pipe fits into all of the holes.
(2) ¾ inch elbows
(4) ¾ inch end caps

If you have a hand saw or a power saw all of the cuts can be made in about 10 minutes. To make a rack the same dimensions as the one I made (40” tall X 32” long) cut; 2 36” tubes, 2 30” tubes, 2 3” tubes and 4 6” tubes. To make the height more that 40” increase the 36” tubes to what you need and to change the amount of length that you can hang meat on increase or decrease the 30” tubes accordingly. Now lets put it together.

We'll start with the feet. Put two 6” tubes into the straight section of a T fitting, then put caps on the free ends of both 6” tubes. Repeat with 2 more 6” tubes a T and 2 Caps for the other foot. See below.


Next put a 3” tube in the upright from the T. and insert the straight section of another T on the 3” tube. Repeat for the other leg.


Put the 36” tube in the other side of the straight part of the T and put an elbow on the top. Repeat for the other leg.


Now put the 30” tubes in the exposed sides of both T's. On one of your uprights. Then put the other end into the other upright.


There it is. One easily cleaned easily collapsed meat curing rack!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gary Cooper

That handsome fellow at the top of the page is Gary Cooper.  He is a 18 month old shepherd mix that we rescued from the Nashville Humaine Association.  He and his little friend Dexter live with my wife and me in a historic house in East Nashville that we restored from fire damage.