Sunday, January 27, 2008

Week End Update

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You know you've have reached the edge of the envelope of your writing ability when you, like me, spend upwards of thirty minutes trying to make a picture of crystallized salami juice ( left) into a metaphor for something in your life -and you fail. That's how I fell about it anyway.

But yeah, the photo is of crystals of, I assume by their cubic structure, salt (NaCl) that grew out of juices that dripped from a link of soppressata that I made on Friday and left out on the counter over night to "jump start" fermentation before hanging it in the (cooler) cheese room where it will air dry over the next 2-3 weeks. I have to thank Christian the Apprentice for encouraging me to shoot this despite my protestations that it'd be a waste of time without a macro lens, because this is certainly going to be a photo that I cherish for many years to come.

Maybe I'll frame it and hang it on the wall of my office next to my Jimi Hendrix poster.

I set up a little controlled experiment this week to see if I could ferment whey and produce alcohol. I'll not bore you with all of the details of how I did this, but the skinny is that by adding sugar (sucrose) to some and honey (fructose, sucrose, glucose) to others the whey fermented and produced alcohol at concentrations ranging from approx. 10-20%. While I could have tried to let naturally occurring yeast already present in the why to do the job I used a type of yeast (Saccharomyces cervisiae) that is used to make champagne to make sure that all samples had nearly equivalent initial yeast populations.

Finally, anyone who has read this January 16 article on the Amatricana problem will understand why I decided to refer to the pot of red sauce in the slide show as "Pasta sauce with pancetta." A few weeks ago I would have called it "Sauce Amatriciana," but thanks to Marion Burros' investigation into the dispute between the people of Amatrice who make the sauce with guanciale (cured pork jowl) and Romans who make it with pancetta. I've got to be careful what I call the sauce that I have been calling "Salsa d' Amatriciana" since 1979 when I first had it in a Roman restaurant in NY named Trastevere.

Maybe I should just call it gravy. Gesu, Maria e Giuseppe, these foodies.


tyronebcookin said...

Yo Bob,
thanks for the mention awhile back...I think what I am doing is pretty cool, BUT I still say you got one of the best jobs around.

Again, I love the slide shows and explanation.

And for those of you who watch the slide shows in small on the blog, click on them, and watch them large!

Its a shame the milkbot couldn't be worked out, but hey...(shrugging shoulders) on to the next.

Linda said...

Cool slide show. I'm envious of your time on the farm as well as your abilities.

When my tomato based sauce (or anything else) doesn't match a name, I love to give it my a name of my own choosing, usually after a relative, sometimes after a place, or whatever. Then it makes it mine.... So, whoever likes your sauce the most, name it after that person....

Jo said...

Just curious, is there an advantage to letting the meat cure/rest/hang before using it to make sausages?
How long from slaughter to butcher?
From butcher to use?
You know I am wishing I was close enough to have some of that mean soppraset!

Bob del Grosso said...

That's a very pleasant solution to a nettlesome problem and much more poetic than how I chose to deal with it. When it came time to label the sauce for sale I put "Amatriciana" in quotes to indicate that it was in the style of the original.

Beyond letting the meat hang for a few days until rigor mortis is gone, there is not much advantage to aging it for sausage or bacon for that matter.

We have the hogs slaughtered and dressed by a USDA approved butcher, who then sends it back in from two to five days. In the case of these hogs I butchered all the meat on Saturday. We sold most of the loins the same day. All the rest of the meat went in the freezer except for for 60 pounds which I made into sausage on Thursday. The sopressatta was made from about 40 pounds of meat that I pulled from the freezer on Thurs, and processed on Friday.

Egaeus said...

It's too bad about the milking robot. I thought it was an awesome idea, even if my inner engineer said that it seemed like an overcomplicated solution to something like milking cows.

Cow-milking robots, cashier-less stores.... McDonalds is aiming for their restaurants to be a zero-training-required operation. How long before it's a zero-people-required one? It really wouldn't be very difficult. ATM-type ordering terminals, robotic assembly, dispensers that hold your order until you scan a bar code given to you by the terminal.... Just one person (for now) to keep the machines supplied with food and fix any minor foul-ups. Pretty soon, there won't be anything left for the unskilled (and some skilled) workers to do. And it all starts with the milking robots! :)

Bob, if you actually make a decent living doing this, I'd say you have the perfect job. That looks like a great job.

Christian the Apprentice said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Christian the Apprentice said...

My Modified original comment:

Christian the Apprentice has left a new comment on your post "Week End Update":

The naming of sauces is something that since being on the business side of the farm, I couldn't have imagined being such a big consideration. People are fussy and quite frankly nervous towards the unknown, so you need to create something soothing and appealing in a name, oh well.

Obviously the Apprentice has rid himself of the incubus, so my blog will now get it's much needed updates.

Scotty said...

Fermented milk? I didn't know delGrosso was Mongolian!

Seriously, you can tell a lot about a person by the posters chosen for their office. In mine are two promotion posters from Bell Aerospace , home of Chuck Yeager's X-1, formerly in Niagara Falls. One is of the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle that Neil Armstrong almost died in; and the second is an early rendering of the Lunar Module (the built the ascent engine.

So, I'm a Space Cadet, and Bob is a hippie - both kids of the 60's! ;-)

Scotty said...

PS: I forgot to mention that they were given to me by the owner of the restaurant I first made sous chef at. His Dad worked at Bell, and both knew how much of a Space Cadet I was!