Saturday, August 18, 2007

Sometimes it's better to be safe than sorry

Today I decided I'd throw together a quick simple salame tomorrow to get back into the swing of things. So off I went to my local chain grocery to get a pork shoulder. They had no pork shoulders.

What they did have was pork picnics. A picnic is the bottom portion of the pig's front legs. It is the part below the shoulder. I figured this would be perfectly fine, which in theory it is. So I picked one up. This is where things started to go downhill.

Upon opening the cryovac bag, a strong sulfur "aroma" hit me. Sometimes pork in cryovac bags can have a bit of smell to it, so I didn't worry too much about it, but more on that later. I then started dissecting it, and that is really where things got ugly.

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, NEVER USE A PICNIC TO MAKE SAUSAGES OR SALAME!! The picnic (and I should have known this) is made up of dozens of really small muscles connected with connective tissue and fat strata. This is a real problem since meat for salame has to be nice chunks of muscle with as little fat or connective tissue as possible to allow for a clean grind. Getting any sort of nice clean chunks of meat out of the picnic is really a big pain. I will not make this mistake again, i'll stick to shoulder/butt or ham chunks.

So after having spent about 45 minutes trimming chunks of meat, the sulfur smell still had not gone away, and I started to get a bit worried. I took a small piece of the meat and cooked it up in a pan and ate it. It was kind of like eating pork steak with some egg...odd. So at this point, after having spent all that time cutting it, I don't think I'm going to use it for the salame. It may be fine to cook, I'm not sure, but I don't think I want to risk using it for something that doesn't get cooked like salame. Maybe the grocery didn't store it cold enough, or mishandled it, I'm not sure. Guess I should have fried up a piece before I had cut it all up and saved myself some time. Better safe than sorry, and I even learned a lesson. Don't use pork picnics for charcuterie.

Tomorrow I might go to a different market and get a couple of thick ham steaks and use those instead.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Actually picnic hams are still shoulder. The shoulder consists of the picnic and the butt. As For the smell, I'd suggest getting out of the grocery store and get some real meat at a good reliable butcher.