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.
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.
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.
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.
The process was much like skinning the jowl and in 10 minutes I had the glistening white fat layer exposed.
I mixed up the rub with freshly ground herbs and spices with kosher salt and some pink salt (curing salt).
I coated the slab of meat liberally and put it in a large zip top bag to join the jowl.
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.