Sunday, August 30, 2009

Quote of the Day

"A peasant becomes fond of his pig and is glad to salt away its pork. What is significant, and is so difficult for the urban stranger to understand, is that the two statements are connected by an 'and' not by a 'but'."

Nice one!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kentucky Barbeque

This is not pork-related, but it is barbeque, which makes it relevant in my book. Last week I broke my August inventory draw-down rule. Winn Dixie has "lamb shoulder chops" on sale. I summoned the butcher and talked him into selling me a whole front quarter (~8 lb) at the sale price.

I love lamb, but rarely buy it. I understand that it is available and more reasonable if you live somewhere with a large Jewish or Muslim community. New Orleans is heavily Catholic and awash in seafood. (I can get 12-16 count shrimp for $3.75/lb.) Lamb is just fairly uncommon in the groceries here and what they do have commands a premium. I always give lamb the Mediterranean treatment, with garlic, rosemary, and red wine.

I know that in Kentucky, barbeque means lamb. I have been wanting to try it for sometime. I am planning to barbeque the front quarter early this fall using an Owensboro-style baste:

Owensboro Barbeque Lamb Baste

1 C White Vinegar
1 C Water
1 C Amber Beer
1/4 Tabasco Worchestershire Sauce
2 TBS Granulated Garlic
1 TBS Dark Brown Sugar
1 TBS Kosher Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Rosemary
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper

I will season the shoulder with a complimentary rub and barbeque the shoulder at 250 degrees for 6-8 hours, mopping with the baste hourly.

I can't wait!


Monday, August 24, 2009

Update - Coppa & Saucisson Sec

My apologies for the lack of posts lately. This is the time of year when my sausage making is at a minimum. The temperatures in Louisiana during July and August make it difficult to keep the house cool enough to work with meat for may extended period of time. Also, August and September are the height of hurricane season. Having lost two freezers-full of food to extended power loss in the past 5 years (Cindy and Katrina), I have adopted the practice of drawing down my inventory from June through September and then restocking once the weather breaks in October. Look for Bratwurst in October along with a bevy of other projects.

All that said, my coppe and saucisson sec are still plodding along in the curing box. I weighed the coppe today and they appear to be coming along nicely. The hot coppa has lost 26% of its weight and the traditional coppa has lost 32%. Both were cased and sprayed with M-EK-4 mold, but have minimal coverage. I'll give them a couple more weeks and check again. I'd like to get them to 35-38% before I pull them.

The saucisson sec is proving to be a nightmare (see previous posts). I made four saucisson at about 400g each. The one I cut two weeks ago has turned grayish along with one of the others. The remaining two are nice and rosy red. I'll post pictures for comparison. Hopefully, I'll be able to salvage these last two, but I am about to scratch this project off of my list.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Advice Needed...

O.K. This Saucisson Sec is driving me nuts. According to Michael Ruhlman, this is supposed to be one of the easiest dry sausages to make. My first attempt was a total failure (see previous post). Thus far, my second attempt does not appear to be going well.

Yesterday it hit 18 days in the curing box. My hygrometer has held at a steady 55 degrees/68% rh throughout. I decided to pull one susage and weigh it. It had lost 34% of its weight. I thought that 40% was ideal, but that 34% would be sufficient, so I cut it open. It appears to be cured throughout and smells very good, but it is extremely soft and the interior is grainy. I opted not to taste it until I could get further input. I hung the two halves back in the curing box.

Here are my questions for anyone who cares to answer:
  1. Did I jump the gun on this first one and should I have waited for 40%?
  2. Can I continue to dry the one I cut and rasonable expect it to be edible?
  3. Is the soft/grainy interior a sign that I didn't tie it tight enough?
Any input would be greatly appreciated here. I have had good luck with whole muscles and really want to make some fermented sausages, but I think I need to get this one right first.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Coppe - First Attempt

Nine days ago, I made my first attempt at curing coppe. Tonight I pulled them out of the cure, stuffed them in casings, and hung them out to dry (after a little mold spray). I had a fit trying to squeeze every last bit of air out of the casings. After 30 mintes, I said "Good Enough" and tied them up. If anyone has advice on how to improve this procedure, I'm all ears.

Here we have added two coppe (one hot, one traditional) to the Saucisson Sec. Happiness is a full curing box!


La Saucisse D’Or

I originally got interested in sausagemaking to prepare recipes for forgotten sausages I found in 100-year old cookbooks. Recently, while searching for lost recipes, I found this gem:
"Restaurants for the working classes in Paris have now-a-days resource to every species of invention to attract attention. One has just been opened in the Faubourg Montmartre, which promises a dinner of two courses and a desert to whoever writes, in a legible hand, the answer to a rebus offered every morning for solution by the dame de comptoir. Another, in the Faubourg St. Afftoine, hit on a still more strange expedient. He chose for his ensign a gigantic golden sausage, which he swung enticingly over the door of his restaurant, the words ‘A la saucisse d’or’, in huge gold letters blazing beneath. His salon was large, its white walls decorated by festoons of the tempting edible so highly appreciated on the other side of the Rhine, and in every fiftieth sausage a five-franc piece in gold. His principle was, that as his customers called for sausages, they should be cut off in regular rotation from the string, so artistically arranged around the dining hall. The result may be better imagined than described. The eager anxiety depicted on the countenance of every ouvrier as he nervously examined and finally ate the sausage, would have supplied a physlognomist with many good subjects for study. The expedient proved most remunerative to the proprietor, but the quarrels that ensued were of so serious a nature that the police have interfered, and the master of the establishment has received orders either to shut up his shop or to proceed on a less exciting system."
Scientific American, December 10, 1864

Sounds like a fun place, but I wonder if the sausage itself was any good.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Big Green Egg (BGE)

For all of my years of barbequing, I have never had the opportunity to use a Big Green Egg (BGE). I learned how to cook "whole log" on my old smoker. Having mapped the temperatures of my grill at multiple points ((+/- 50 degrees!!!) and also experimented with insulating the grill, I can fully appreciate the insulating qualities of a ceramic grill. I like the idea of the BGE, and it has a cult-like following of advocates on the various barbeque forums. I also know that there are high-end Komodo-style cookers out there for the well-heeled (as though the BGE were cheap).

However, I was disappointed to find the new Bubba Keg on sale at Home Depot over the weekend. It appears to be a cheaply made imitation of the BGE. At $599, it appears to be a keg-shaped knock-off of the BGE aimed at helping promote the Bubba line of beverage holders.

Komodo-style cookers work by allowing the cook to control the airflow and therefore the burn of the fire. They are aloso well-insulated to allow tight temperature control. The Bubba Keg appears to be loosely constructed, which would interfere with fire control. While I can admit that I have not had the opportunity to cook on either the BGE or the Bubba, my experience has let me to believe that the BGE is worth the extra $150.