For the grinder…
Pig skin, pig fat and some unfashionable cuts of pig meat (scalp, cheek, heart and belly trimmings) all seasoned overnight and ready to be ground, medium die. Have you guessed what charcuterie this is? Cotechino!
My cotechino were made according to the Ruhlman & Polcyn recipe, though with about 50% less fat (just because I didn’t have enough fat sitting in the freezer). Made with odd cuts of pig it is highly economical but very tasty all the same. The texture is amazing, if you like wibbly skin and strong Italian spices – which I do. I tried one when it came out of its poaching stock and it was (in all modesty) amazing. Chilled overnight and lightly grilled or browned I think it will be not bad either.
is now ready after about three months of drying. It came out really well. This dried meat concludes this season of charcuterie – the summer heat here is too much, and my drying chamber struggles with both the indoor temperature and the humidity.
My batch of fennel salami (I won’t write the Italian for it, being also a vulgar term) is now ready after five weeks of drying. This was the first time I have used artificial casings for salami, mostly because they are readily available by mail order here in Japan, unlike salted beef middles, and also because the last time I used big natural casings for salami the smell was so bad the memsahib banned me from ever de-salting them in our kitchen again. The taste and texture came out pretty good though the drying was slightly uneven (possibly because I was in Guam for a week and couldn’t attend the drying chamber during that time) but I am most happy with the definition of the fat and the ratio of meat and fat within the sausage. Since this was the first time using artificial casings there was a possibility of mucking this up so I just used regular local supermarket pork, resulting in the salami lacking the really complex layers of flavour and nicely perfumed fat you get using good pork; it was still pretty damn good and leagues ahead of anything you can buy in the store. Thanks also to Mr. W. for the excellent quality fennel!
After three weeks drying the salami is coming along nicely. This is the first time I have used synthetic casings so we shall see how the final product turns out. They have already lost 30% of their mass so they are ready to eat; I may try one tomorrow.
Ready to eat after precisely 30 days drying.
The salami are moulding over and drying at an orthodox rate: these have lost 11% water weight in 10 days in the drying chamber. The Bactoferm-600 mould is growing in a bit of a patchwork but this one sausage is pretty well moulded over except at the top and bottom where I may have touched it with vinegary fingers (occasional outbreaks of black or green mould need to be swabbed with vinegar or brine). The salami still have retained a very strong truffle aroma, long may it last.
The recipe is from R & P’s Salumi book. I swapped preserved truffle slices for truffle oil but otherwise the recipe is the same. I am using T-SPX culture for the first time (usually I use F-MR-52) so we shall have to see how it works out – a slow ferment at lower temperature. For me, the biggest learning experience so far has been the use of beef middles – they are tough (seemingly unbreakable), perfect size and easy to stuff but nothing really prepared me for how bad they smell and how it lingers on everything that touched them; a nasty, nasty business. Anyway, I have four truffle salami fermenting away in my chamber as I write this and I look forward to the result.