Saturday, March 8, 2008

A Salami is Born

This week I pushed out the edge of the charcuterie envelope a bit by making really big fermented and dry cured salami. These each weigh about 15 pounds and, I suspect, will take several months to ripen. They are made from ground pork and cubed pork fat (in ratio @ 4:1) and seasoned with fennel, garlic and wine et al. I'm pretty confident that they will taste good, but a little worried about not being able to prevent them from drying out too fast and hardening up (case hardening).

As I have noted in earlier posts, we hang all of our salumi in the cheese aging room, which (I'm sure I have not mention) is very big and a bit tricky to keep properly humidified. We are all going to have to be vigilant in making sure that the room stays damp so that these great sausages, mature into proper salami, and achieve their rightful place in the temple of Esculentus.


jaschwarz said...

When do I show up? I'm never sure when this stuff is going to be ready.

I've had the bresaola, sec, pancetta, lamb pancetta (thanks for the freebie!), and pepperoni. I'm hooked.

Have you tried the Lamb Ham yet?

Don Luis said...

Why must you call this stuff by the pretentious and fussy name "charcuterie?" This is clearly salumi. It looks great.

Bob del Grosso said...


I tried the lamb ham two weeks ago and it was still under ripe. I'm going to give it another month before I try it again.

Don Luis
Point well taken. I use the term from habit, and for the same reason that we use words like "cuisine" and "chef" to refer to non-french styles of cooking and cooks. For better or worse, these apt French concepts went viral before others did.

Don Luis said...

I was joking, of coure, but did not soffrito (Italian), sofrito (Spanish, and even refogado (Portuguese) come earlier than mirepoix? It was that horrible Ruhlman that lead us to prefer the French "chef" and "cuisine" over over the commonsense "cook" and "food".

And "mise en place"? Please. How about "prep."

I suppose I'm just a bitter Italian-American.

Bob del Grosso said...

Don Luis
Interesting question! And no Ruhlman cannot take credit for the establishment of any of these words in the culinary vocabulary of the western world. That credit must go to the French chefs and others who a) established classical cooking beginning in the 18th century b) codified it in books c) dispersed it via these books and by leaving France to work first in the kitchens of European aristocrats, and later in the great hotels and restaurants of the industrialized world.

Of course there is more to the story, but this is its crux I think.

Don Luis said...

I was joking again, of course. I was refering to Ruhlman's excellent "The Elements of Cooking", modeled after my trade's "The Elements of Style." I have read and greatly enjoyed Ruhlman's chef related books. I'm also a loyal follower of his blog, but to me, he always seems in need of a hair cut.

Bad Wolf said...

love reading all of your charcuterie and salumi items. I butchered my own hog a while back and am making lardo and lonza to hang. Just put them in the garage inside of my bradley smoker (figured it is dark and will add a hint of smokey flavor??). Anyway, as someone who has done items like this before, does this sound like a sound theory. The temp is about 50F during the day, it shouldn't get much higher for a few weeks here. thanks

Joseph Bayot said...

What is happening exactly when a salami or any other kind of charcuterie is "ripening"?

redman said...

great tie job on those guys, they look great

Bob del Grosso said...

As the salami matures the bacteria ferment it, lower it's pH and reduce the nitrates to various breakdown products, some of which alter the flavor and change the color to the characteristic deep red hue we associate with most cured meat.

There is also about a 30 percent reduction in weight due to evaporation, and a profound change in flavor due to various oxidation and reduction reactions happening between the seasonings and the meat.

Joseph Bayot said...

Thank you for the explanation.

So is the lower pH, the lack of water, and salt content the reasons why charcuterie products last so long?