Thursday, June 30, 2011


I am working on getting this blog back up to speed. This has been a very busy summer for me at my day job, but meat projects are still on my mind.

My latest project was to make the Pastrami recipe in Ruhlman and Pollan's [u]Charcuterie[/u]. I made the brine exactly to the specifications and used a 5 lb grass-fed brisket from Whole Foods. I smoked it for 5 hours using oak and orange wood.

It is simply stunning. Delicious. I atee it by itself for a few days, then I made some sandwiches.

My very best was to place 6 slices on foil in the broiler until the edges started to crisp. Then I topped them with baby Swiss and continued to broil until the Swiss started to brown. I transferred the meat and cheese to toasted rye slathered with German mustard and pickles... Awesome, just awesome. So good I forgot to take pictures. Sorry. But it was really, really good. Try it.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Still here!

Hello Spectators,

I am still here. In February I sat and typed a massive post including pictures of all of the meats I had made through the fall and winter only to have my browser crash and ditch it all at the end. My disgust after that experience is partially responsible for my lack of posts in the last several months. Still, I apologize to those who still follow me. I will try to make it up to you in the coming months.

Here is a brief catch-up on what the heck I've been up to for the last year:

1. I bought a new house and moved. The new house has a "shop" that I have renovated to include an area to store all of my meat processing equipment and house my brand-new (larger) curing chamber.
2. I have been making boatloads of fresh sausages, such as sweet Italian, hot Italian, bratwurst, merguez, and linguica. I also developed a new venison sausage that it really good (recipe available on request).
3. I have been curing the basics, bresaola, lonzino, and pancetta.
4. I have been preparing to take the dive into fermented sausages, which leads me to the secondary purpose of this post- I have run into a problem and am asking your help.

I bought a new curing chamber last year. It is a temperature controlled wine fridge. I chose it because wine fridges don't dehumidify like regular fridges do. It has a built in thermostat that controls the temperature from 50-65 degrees. I have used it for several months now ith great success. As I prepared to jump into fermented salmumi, I got the idea to check the accuracy of my controller. I set my thermostat to 60 and placed a digital thermometer in the chamber. 24 hours later, the new thermometer was reading 66 degrees. Perplexed, and thinking that my thermostat was busted, I decided to add an analog thermometer to cross-check the thermostat and digital thermometer. To make things worse, the analog read 58 the next morning, while the digital still read 66!

So I tried another experiment: I placed a glass of tap water in the chamber overnight. The next day I tested the water temperature with my digital meat thermometer. The meat thermometer read 60.8 degrees while the analog stayed at 58 and the digital 66.

As of right now, I am inclined to trust the meat thermometer and the thermostat in the wine fridge. However, I feel like I need a better handle on temperature control before I ruin a bunch of meat. Conversely, there is a part of me that thinks that there are probably many Italians who just make this stuff in their attic or basement with no controllers.

Any comments, advise, or suggestions from the Spectators are welcomed. How do you all ensure your temps are right? Am I over-thinking fermented meats?