charcuterie discussions.. [General]

2010 Oct 12
hi all - im starting to prep ideas for this years batch of meats.

Last year I made a big batch of sopressata using Large Black pork from The Piggy Market. (via Barbara Schaefer - Upper Canada Heritage Meat) It turned out fairly well, but I'm going to tweak the recipe a bit for this years batch. One issue I found with the meat was it was fairly lean - I didn't have enough fat in the sopressata which made it a touch dry. Will post the recipe later today when I find it.

I'd like to expand my horizons this year and try out a couple other things.

Has anyone made Serrano Ham? Any other recipes that can be shared? Greatly appreciated.

2010 Oct 12 You might be interested in reading this forum topic for starters: Forum - Cure your own stuff

2010 Oct 12
I am using up the last bit of my first dry cured ham and it was a success, even the foot/bones made really good stock. I am hoping to build two curing boxes and start two more in the near future, just haven't gotten around to it yet. Now is certainly the time of year to do it....

2010 Oct 12
how big is a curing box and what all do you need for it? e.g. some sort of environmental controls?

2010 Oct 12
No it won't have to be fancy...I'm thinking just a simple and stackable pine box that retains salt crystals yet allows moisture/blood to drain away from the ham so the ham doesn't sit in it's own liquid like it would in a plastic tub.

From my experience when you don't use nitra/ites you definitely don't want the ham sitting in any liquid during the initial salt cure as the flesh tends to go a bit gray, which isn't very appetizing. On the other hand, curing salts help preserve that rosy pink ham colour.

Hopefully the boxes will fit the ham as close as possible allowing room for salt to be packed on all sides. The better the fit, the less salt I will have to use to pack the ham. Ideally, I'd make the boxes ham-shaped.

As far as temp./humidity goes a fall fruit cellar is fine for my purposes, provided that it doesn't freeze over the winter. I know that many people closely monitor temp. and humidity, but I have had no problems in a damp, cool and basically ambient environment.

2010 Oct 12
my apologies - I didn't realize another thread was up disussing this topic. so happy there are plenty of others involved with curing!

trachino - i noticed on the other thread, you and da butcher both hung your hams for a year or longer. In the Charcuterie book, they discuss hanging for 4-5 months. Is there a reason for the time difference? I'd like to make prosciutto this year, but my concern is hanging during the late spring/summer.

I use my heated garage all winter - I keep it at around 5 degrees, but in the summer it gets warm.

2010 Oct 13
KV: I sliced the ham at about a a year and I found that the ham was good but could be a bit more tender and was still a bit soft; it was not raw but it could stand to age longer. The remainder was sliced at about 18 month and 24 month intervals, when I found the taste to be well developed and the texture to be what I was looking for.

Summer temps are not as big of a concern, because if you start in the fall the ham has been cured for 6 months by the time summer hits (it's not a raw piece of meat hanging that will spoil). You still would want the ham to be in a temp between 14-18 degrees C. Any hotter you may have a problem with green/black mold.

Ruhlman's book is a very good primer for beginners but in my opinion the authors advocate overly conservative positions for my taste (i.e: always use nitrates, cure sauerkraut for only 2 weeks, sterilize dill pickle brine before storing in fridge, etc.) However, my projects are only for my or my close friends and family's consumption and I always make sure to inform whomever I am serving of everything I did/didn't do.

If I was writing a popular how-to book I'd probably be preaching the overly extreme safe route as well...speaking as a lawyer haha.

By the way, if you do any cured pork items, always use really really good pork; commercial stuff tastes like ammonia when it has been dry cured...

2010 Oct 13
Tracinho - thanks for the info. I thought I remembered my dad curing for a year or two. Ruhlman's book, IMHO, is a bit misleading. Even the sopressata recipe says you can use the cured meat after 3 weeks or so. Not even close in my experience.

Regarding the mean, nitrates, etc - need some opinions. The first couple of years I made sopressata, I used pork shoulder from Nicastro's.. this time of year you can usually get it at $0.99-$1.29 a pound if Im not mistaken. Both years I used this meat, the sopresatta turned out pretty well, but wasn't really edible after 10 months or so.

Last year, I decided to use the Heritage pork PLUS I used cure #2, dextrose as per Len Poli's recipe. The cure was good and the meat after about a year is still good. The problem is I found the Heritage pork didn't have enough fat for sopressata. I also find that the meat tastes a little off - not in a spoiled way - I'm not sure if it was just the slight differences in spices OR the cure #2 and dextrose makes a difference.


2010 Oct 13
Doesn't Heritage sell Heirloom meat? That could account for the difference in taste. Did you eat any of their pork just cooked?

2010 Oct 13
I'm no dried sausage expert, I stick to coppas, hams, lonzos and bresaolas for the moment, but that was another criticism of Ruhlman's book, they advocate using BactoFerm(??) additive instead of natural fermentation to develop that "salami" flavour...DaButcher mentioned that stuff tastes terrible, I have no experience myself.

Regarding your question, it could depend when the heritage pig was killed, if it was on the younger/smaller side the shoulder might not have the 30% fat ratio required for good sausages. Or it could be a leaner breed? That is a famous criticism of Canadian dry hams - we slaughter our pigs at a smaller size, so the hams are smaller and less fatty resulting in a ham that can taste overly salty and not have as much striated fat throughout the flesh, affecting texture and mouthfeel in the final product.

When you say not edible what do you mean? Too strong? Too hard? As mentioned above, my experience has been that commercial pork tastes distinctly like ammonia once the flavours have been concentrated during the dry cure process, but in the form of a grilled pork chop or an oven roast it is something I have never noticed. Still off-putting...

2010 Oct 13
hey guys. As far as I know the pork was a Black pork.. I purchased it from the Piggy Market. I didn't try any of it just cooked so I can't say if the pig itself had a different taste. My bad. That being said, what I'm tasting doesn't appear to be a pork thing - very hard to describe. I just know from years of eating the stuff and a few years of making it, it seems like an additive flavour.

The batch that isn't edible generally gets too hard and the colour starts darkening. I made this batch without any nitrates, curing sales, etc. Just plain old salt and spices. The time period that I did eat it, 3-8 months give or take, the pork was a beautiful red and tasted great. I used the additives last year in hopes of preserving the cured product longer.

2010 Oct 14
As a follow-up, from doing some more research it appears part of my problem could have been from the starter culture I used.

Last year, I used Bactoferm LHP, as per Len Poli's recipe, but from what I've read this starter will cause a bit of a strange flavour - that could have been what I was tasting.

This year, I'm going to use the T-SPX starter and see how it goes.

Either this weekend or next weekend I'm going to make sopressata, prosciutto, lardo, and panchetta. Screw it - get it all out of the way at once. :) I'll let you all know how it goes. I'm going to get the meat at The Village Butcher - sourced from Dave Snowdon's farm near Merrickville.

Here's the recipe I used for last years batch of sopressata:

6635 grams pork (approx 15 pounds)
565 grams fat
155 grams kosher salt
20 grams cure #2
4 tsp dextrose
15 grams pepper flakes, crushed
10 grams white pepper
10 grams black peppercorn, crushed
3/8 tsp LHP starter
10 Tbs red wine

--- as noted previously, this pork had way less fat than needed - about 10%. This year it will be closed to 20-30% if I can help it. Also, I'm going to change to the T-SPX starter instead of the LHP. Otherwise, I'll stick to the above recipe pretty closely.

2010 Oct 15
Sounds like a fantastic day! Looking forward to the photos.