Salame al finochietto translates to "salame with wild fennel seeds", which is exactly what I made last week. I was actually able to make this during the week by doing one or two steps every evening after work.
I wanted to make a simple salame to get back into the hang of things. This one is about as simple as it gets.
The meat and fat I used were not the usual parts of the pig. Normally I'd use pork shoulder, and fat back. This time I used ham meat and pork belly. It was really nice not to have to do much trimming of sinew from the shoulder, these were basically clean hunks of meat. Very convenient. The belly I used was only slightly meaty, as you'll see in the pictures. It is probably much easier for people get get pork belly, than fat back (unsalted), so let's see how it works out.
Unfortunately, because of the whole curing issue, I will not have a report on the flavors, texture and aromas for about 3-4 weeks. The picture above is of the salame before drying. So for now I'll give you the recipe and procedure I used.
One important note is that everything that touches the meat (grinder, stuffer, bowls, counters, hands etc.) should be very very clean. Remember you're not cooking this meat, and you're holding it at temperatures which would allow bacterial multiplication.
Salame al Finocchietto
900g ham meat
380g fatty pork belly
6.5g fennel seed - crushed in mortar and pestle
3.1g cure #2
3.5g coarsely ground black pepper
35g reduced wine (see below)
1g (about 1/4 tsp) F-RM-52 starter culture mixed in 30g distilled water with a pinch of dextrose
These are the nice pieces of pork ham meat. You can see they are rather lean, and free of connective tissue. Less trimming and waste for us!
The meat is cubed into approximately 1/2-3/4" cubes.
Here is our nice pork ham cubed up and ready for the grinder right after we add.......
The pork belly! You can see this belly is quite fatty. In fact, the leaner part on the right side of the picture attached to the lower portion, I removed and saved to braise. I used the fattiest portions of the pieces I had. Be sure not to use the pork skin!
Again, I cut them into about 1/2-3/4" batons or cubes.
I combined and mixed the meat and belly and spread on a cookie sheet and put it in the freezer for 1-2 hours to get really cold, almost frozen. The surface should be a little "crunchy" from being frozen. You don't want it frozen solid or you won't be able to grind it.
I ground the meat using the 1/4" plate on the Kitchenaid grinder, and let it drop into the Kitchenaid bowl, then put it back in the freezer to chill again. (Don't leave it in there for longer than 1 hour or so)
In the mean time, I boiled 2 cloves of lightly smashed garlic in 1 cup of wine for about 10 minutes. It reduced to about 3/4 of a cup. I do this because when I used straight wine, without reducing, I could taste the alcohol in the salame. Boiling it evaporates the alcohol but retains the flavors of the wine.
During this time, I added the starter culture to 30-40g of room temperature distilled water in which I dissolved a pinch of dextrose. This is to wake those little buggers up!
I added everything to the ground meat except the starter culture, and using the paddle attachment (you could use your hands) I mixed the mixture. I paddled for 1 minute. I then added the starter culture/distilled water, and paddled for another 30-45 seconds to get a good bind. The meat paste should become tacky, but don't paddle so much that the meat and fat start smearing. You really want the fat globules to stay distinct. Of course I forgot to take a picture of the meat paste before stuffing. Next time.
For stuffing I used 43mm collagen rounds. This is an artificial casing which is soaked in warm water for about 15-20 minutes to soften. Stuff them until they are nicely full, but not super packed or they may burst. Try to stuff them with as few air pockets as possible. Tie them off into loops, and using a CLEAN toothpick poke the casing all over, trying to target any air pockets you may have.
From this batch I got almost exactly 2 full 43mm casings, one weighing 566g and one 596g. I had a little left over.
I matured them in my incubation chamber at 82 deg. F for 25 hours. This is based on experience. You might want to measure the meat past pH using pH papers.
This is what they look like after incubation. They are just a little more red, and have become a little "tighter" or "stiffer".
Now they get put into the curing chamber until they've lost about 30-40% of their weight. Which is why it is important that you measure the before-cure weight. This should take about 3-4 weeks.
As soon as I taste them I'll report on the taste as soon as I can!
Any questions or comments? Just ask away..let me know if you want even more detail or anything else.