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Makin' bacon - A little less than a happy high
komos
komos
Makin' bacon
Seems the first attempt at home cured bacon was a hit, so I'm moving forward with grander plans involving larger cuts and more adventurous treatments. It's pretty much as easy to cure 5-10 lbs. as it is to cure one, so if you're reasonably local and have interest in a slab, let me know. Also, give some thought as to whether you would prefer a sweeter cure (brown sugar and maple, for instance) for breakfasting or something a little more savory (I'm thinking cracked pepper and garlic) to use as the base for soups or other such craziness.

On a similar note, I went back to Ruhlman's discussion on nitrates/nitrites and realized that I had entirely misremembered the numbers he cited as the "danger zone." The trouble rests more in cold smoking and air-curing techniques that are taking place in the scary 40-140F range rather than the 200-220F of "hot" smoking. Based on other sources I've found, including remembering that I've seen no information about barbecue or smoking that called for curing salts, Ruhlman's insistence on using nitrites in anything that will see smoke seems like he cries "ZOMGBOTULISM!!" to cover his ass. I will certainly continue to practice due diligence and take extra care over sanitization, but I'm going to relax a little over not using a possibly carcinogenic additive while I'm cooking at temps that should kill anything that could find its way to the meat. Ultimately, I will trust in the power of salt and heat. If and when I start hanging saucisse sec, then I will revisit this question with gusto.

In any case, nothing goes out until I'm sure.
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Comments
wanderyng1 From: wanderyng1 Date: February 4th, 2008 04:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have four words for you: Ruhlman is a tool.
komos From: komos Date: February 4th, 2008 05:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
The book is fantastic, if a bit geared to the industry. I mean, it's great that he and Polcyn had the means to butcher two hogs as a means to demonstrate snout to tail usage, but I think it was an intimidating mistake to lead off a book with that story. I'm pretty sure that most folks don't have a friend who owns a restaurant equipped with a kitchen large enough to tend to whole animals.

The idea of 10' of sausage of any kind also boggles. Not that I don't think it'll be used, it's just... 10 feet, y'know?

Edited at 2008-02-04 05:54 pm (UTC)
wanderyng1 From: wanderyng1 Date: February 4th, 2008 06:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have made my own bacon, with mixed results each time. I have some older culinary texts that had advice on smoking meats. I'll have to dig through the boxes I've still yet to unpack and see if I can find the one I'm looking for.

Savory seems to work better than sweet in my experience, as it is less tempting to bacteria.

I really just have personal issues with Michael Ruhlman. Every time he opens his mouth, egotistical detritus spills forth. His book may very well be excellent.
komos From: komos Date: February 4th, 2008 06:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
This go was pretty solid, thankfully. It was a pretty basic salt cure supplemented with 1/4 cup of real grade B maple syrup. The belly piece was a bit small, so it was probably saltier than was ideal. The maple sugar mellowed that nicely, and paired with the raclette and anjou pear slices, it was quite nice. I'd love to see what you have kicking about.

I hadn't seen much of Ruhlman before The Next Iron Chef, where I kept having my hackles raised by Andrew Knowlton. Ruhlman is CIA, yeah?

wanderyng1 From: wanderyng1 Date: February 4th, 2008 07:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah I see, so you went for a wet cure of the meat? Good call - I seem to have had better luck that way than with the dry cures.

For wet cures, I usually use apples and honey thinned with a little cider vinegar. I highly recommend picking up a vacuum-sealer if you plan on using wet cures. The taste difference is truly impressive.
komos From: komos Date: February 4th, 2008 07:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sure, it starts with a vacuum sealer, but next thing you know you're buying an immersion circulator and a can of liquid nitrogen.

...not that that wouldn't be awesome.
wanderyng1 From: wanderyng1 Date: February 4th, 2008 07:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Rapid-action pellicle FTW!
komos From: komos Date: February 4th, 2008 07:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Of curiosity, what was your stance on pink salt?
wanderyng1 From: wanderyng1 Date: February 4th, 2008 07:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
That depends. If you're talking about the vaguely pink-colored insta-cure that sausagemaker.com peddles, I'm a bit wary of it (it seems to be referred to by some as "pink salt"). Then again I'm a bit wary of anything called "insta-cure."

If you mean the Himalayan salt, then I've got nothing. I've seen it before, but never actually tasted it. It looks interesting enough though :)
komos From: komos Date: February 4th, 2008 07:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, it's the Insta-Cure stuff, or Prague Powder, or whatever the kids are calling it these days. It seems like it's a common inclusion in instructional sources, and almost universally ignored by professional chefs.
inahandbasket From: inahandbasket Date: February 4th, 2008 05:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Would love to join you for such shenanigans!
komos From: komos Date: February 4th, 2008 05:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sure thing. Have you done any research into sources? Have you acquired/assembled a smoker set-up yet? Any interest in making baccalá while we're at it?
inahandbasket From: inahandbasket Date: February 4th, 2008 05:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
nope.
haven't even finished my first book on the subject.
^_^
komos From: komos Date: February 4th, 2008 05:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Do you have the Ruhlman/Polcyn, or are you working on a different text? I've had V giggling because I'm reading it like a novel.
inahandbasket From: inahandbasket Date: February 4th, 2008 05:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's the one.
I, too, am reading it like a novel. Getting some funny looks on the T. ^_^
komos From: komos Date: February 4th, 2008 05:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm just tickled that there's a recipe for summer sausage. I'm guessing that Hickory Farms just won't compare.
(Deleted comment)
komos From: komos Date: February 4th, 2008 05:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
1) I will not forget your love of bacon. Sweet or savory for your first?
2) Don't think I haven't considered it.
3) I am covetous of your mom's meat slicer, though I'm not sure if I'm at a point where I can make best use of it. Depends on how people as for their bacon. I'm happy with slabs I can carve off. Drew wants bacon angels to place atop pancakes. I'm guessing there is endless variety between the two.
bbbsg From: bbbsg Date: February 4th, 2008 06:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
savory bacon!
have i pointed you at my friend who makes bacon? her write-up and flavor combos are great.
komos From: komos Date: February 4th, 2008 06:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
You mentioned her and her Room of Meats, but I don't think I got her info.
bbbsg From: bbbsg Date: February 4th, 2008 06:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
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