Sunday, February 17, 2008

Salame Saturday! - Faceoff: farmer vs. commercial - rematch.

You may remember a while back, I cured two identical salami, with the only difference being where the pork was purchased from. You may also remember that my results were unclear, but basically led to the conclusion that the flavor was essentially the same. Well, I wasn't satisfied with those results. Based on tasting pork chops, I knew the flavor of a farmer raised pig HAD to be better! I concluded that the quality of farmer pork I had used last time wasn't up to snuff, so I had to retry with pork I knew was good.

With that in mind, I participated in splitting a 1/2 of a Tamworth hog raised by a local farmer. Apart from the complete hackjob on the butchering, the pork is good, at least judging from the pork chop I grilled. So this weekend I decided to rerun my experiment. This time i made an even simpler salame, a Varzi style. I also changed the starter culture to see how it affects flavor. I used F-LC bioprotective culture.

So let's get to it! So far I've only made the salami, and put them into fermentation, so there are no pictures of the meat cured or tasting, there are only a few pictures of ground meat and salami.
As I said above, I made a Varzi style salame. Varzi is a small town south of Milan, and its salame is highly regarded as one of the top salami in Italy. True salame di Varzi has to follow the DOP disciplinary, which is why mine is only a Varzi "style".

Salame tipo Varzi
IngredientQuantity(g)% of Meat+Fat
Pork ham meat119070%
Fat (back for farmer belly for commercial)51030%
Black Pepper (whole kernel)1.70.1%
Cure #24.250.25%
Garlic powder0.50.029%
F-LC Starter0.60.035%
Red wine (Cote du Rhone)100.5%

I'm only going to show "1 side" of the operation. I don't think there is any need to show pictures of both types of meat and fat cubed, and both ground etc. So i'll just show the farmer meat pictures. Also note that for the commercial salame i used the fattiest pork belly i could find, whereas the farmer salame used fatback from the same hog that the meat came from.

Here is a picture of the two meats side by side. I used ham slices because it is a lot easier than trimming meat from the shoulder and removing the excess fat and sinew.
Just like on the last comparison you can see that the farmer pork is lighter in color, and seems to have the fat more finely distributed instead of having it in larger globs.

As usual, the meat is cubed up into 3/4 inch cubes, and put into the coldest part of the fridge. It's nice using the ham, as the meat is relatively sinew free, and doesn't have much fat in it, which makes adding the exact amount of fat easier than when using shoulder, and makes trimming and cubing much faster.

The fat is also cubed up and put into the fridge.

The fat and meat are mixed in cube form and then ground. In this case I used my custom made 11mm Kitchenaid grinder plate. I really liked the size of this plate. The fat and meat are very distinct, and quite large, but not huge. I'm looking forward to trying the salame to see how the mouth feel changes with the grain size.

I then added all the ingredients and mixed in the Kitchenaid mixer for about 30 seconds, then added the starter dissolved in about 20ml of distilled water, and mixed for another 30 seconds.

For reference, this is the maximum amount of meat I would try to mix in the KA bowl. It may even have been a touch too i'm taking this note in case I forget!:) 1500g is really the maximum salame batch that can be be effectively mixed in the KA mixer bowl.

You can see in the picture of the mixed meat that the myosin in meat has come out and bound the mixture well. A good indicator of this is the whitish film that forms on the sides of the mixing bowl. You can also see that in the video in the Cacciatorino post.

I repeated the process with the commercial pork and pork belly, and then stuffed the salame mixture. I normally use collagen casings, but I bought some natural beef middled, and I figured now would be a good time to try them. I've read that some people think they make the salame taste better than when using collagen casings. In hindsight I should have made some of the salame with natural and some with collagen to see if there is a difference in flavor or mold growth. Oh well, that'll have to be for another post.

Casing the salame was quite easy. What WASN'T easy was being able to tie a knot at the end of the salame that would hold the slippery, slimy casing! When I hung them in the fermentation box 3 of them just slipped right out of the knot! There is a special kind of knot called a butterfly knot which is supposed to be used with natural casings, but I've never had the problem with collagen, so I figured it wouldn't really matter. WRONG! If you use natural casings make sure you really tie them tight!

So now the salami are in the fermentation box at 72 deg. F. They've been sprayed with a solution made from 1.5g of M-EK-4 mold culture which was bloomed in 27g of water for 3 hours and then added to 400g of additional water. The salami were sprayed when they were put into the box then 1.5 hours afterwards, and then 15 hours later the next morning. (I really want to make sure i get mold cultures on there!).

About 18 hours after I put the salami into the fermentation box, i could see that the ones closer to the bulb were drier than the ones in the back row, so I rotated them back row to front row. I'm planning on leaving them at 72F for 48 hours, then into the curing chamber.

After about 28 hours I noticed that the humidity in the fermentation box was really really high. I propped open the lid, on the side away from the bulb, about 1" with a book. The next morning, after about 8 hours, I closed the box back up.

After 48 hours I took the salami out of the fermentation box and put them into the curing chamber at 55 deg. F and ~70% RH.

You can already see the mold forming on the surface of the salame.

Hope they turn out well, and I hope there is a tasteable difference between farmer and commercial!


GadgetGeek said...

I am anxious to hear how they come out Jason... btw... the hog farmer also hated the butcher and has sought someone else, no word on who he has found but he did apologize. I saw him at the Hog Killing early in the month and he said he was going to ONLY raise Tamworth hogs from now on and has several sows on the way to motherhood.

samaBlog said...

can you talk a little about the equipment you use? Where did you get your fermentation box?

Jasonmolinari said...

Samablog: you can find a whole series of posts detailing my equipment here:

you can also find them by selecting the "equipment" tagged posts on the right.

samaBlog said...

Thanks Jason. I realized that about 5 minutes after leaving the comment.

Awesome blog, BTW. Keep up the good work.

Elie said...

I also have a tough time trimming the boston butt cut. So, when you say ham here, do you mean the picnic ham or the actual ham from the hind quarter??

Jasonmolinari said...

Elie, i mean the actual ham meat from the hind leg. It is normally sold in steaks as you see in the picture in this post.