Sunday, April 27, 2008

Musing on Salume and Time

Yesterday I surprised myself a little when, after having finished slicing up a bunch of salume to serve some guests, I realized that I was largely responsible for having made it all. Whatever, I'm not overawed by my accomplishment -it's not like I built a practical artificial nose or something- but there is something about making cured and fermented meats that is deeply satisfying in a way that does not attend other methods of food preparation that I have used.

I love that it takes a long time to make a salami. I hung salami over a month ago that won't be ready for more than two months. Some lamb leg prosciutto that I hung in November of 2007 probably won't be ready to eat until August. I suppose that the process of making dry cured meat is more like making wine than it is like making soup or baking a cake. Unless you count the time it takes to grow the ingredients, the two latter activities happen in an instant relative to the former.

What Aldous Huxley proposed when he wrote [the title] "Time Must Have a Stop" is a pipe dream, the best we can do, I think, is to pretend to slow it down. And making really slow food might just be one of the ways to get that done.

Top Photo L to R: Soppresata; Salami a la Toscano; Bresaola (air-dried beef); Orange-Cardamon Salami
Bottom Left: Chicken-Potato Leek Torta Rustica; Soppresata with black peppercorns made by a friend of Hendricks Farms and Dairy.

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Scotty said...

I have to completely agree with your sentiments, especially your elegant analogy to wine making. I love the process and aroma of making bread, but with a few exceptions I have the process down, and is fast.

While far behind you on the salume learning curve, I am enjoying the process. Time is actually and ingredient, I think, as important as the meats, the seasonings, the temperature and the humidity.

Don Luis said...

I would love to try making salumi, but I live in Puerto Rico. The average temperature is 80 in the summer, and the average humidity is near 70%. Is there an artificial means I can use to regulate temperature and humidity, like a dedicated small refrigerator, or would that inhibit air flow too much?

Should I give up, and resign myself to Oscar Meyer hot dogs? It's not quite that bad; I get some cryovaced salume from Costco, but that's it.

Bob del Grosso said...

Don Luis,
Actually hot dogs are probably the best thing for you to make because they don't need to be hung. However they are not at all easy to make so do your homework before you attempt it.

I've heard that some folks have had success aging salume in inexpensive wine refrigerators. Otherwise, you'd need to hang them in an air conditioned room.

Don Luis said...

Bummer. I do make my own fresh pork sausage, and I've had good results (it's just pork shoulder I grind myself, with some spices and white wine).

I don't like hot dogs enough to try that.

Air conditioning? What's that? We don't have it, and if we did, we would need to modify our windows to use what you people call "glass". Our windows are screens on the inside and aluminum louvers on the outside. I would never consider sealing a room off from the outside world, even for meat.

Bob del Grosso said...

Don Luis
I only mentioned the air conditioning route to emphasize the practicality of the wine cooler solution. I was pretty sure that you would not want air conditioning.

Ulla said...

they looks so great!:)

Jennie/Tikka said...

What did that mortar and pestle set you back for?

Ed Bruske said...

Bob, this is exactly what I mean when I say you are having too much fun.

Brian said...

Great analogy to wine making. I myself am a homebrewer-beer and have over the past year or so have become passionate about curing meats.

To tell you the truth I had never connected the dots between fermenting beverages and curing meats..but your right, its the love of the process and the patience put into both.

Cheers! And if your ever in Chicagoland I'll be sure to have to serve you a few home brewed pints and some duck proscuitto ;)