Thursday, January 29, 2009

Spanish Chorizo

I'm an equal opportunity cured meat eater. The product doesn't have to be Italian, it just has to taste GOOD. Case in point, Spanish Chorizo. Chorizo is a salame like cured product redolent of smoked paprika, garlic and oregano. This is the 1st time I've made it, and since it isn't ready yet, I won't know if this formula is any good until I try it. Try at your own risk!

Spanish Chorizo
IngredientQuantity(g)% of Meat+Fat
Pork ham meat
Pork belly (about 75/25 fat/lean)
Cure #2
Black pepper (ground)
Smoked paprika (sweet)
Oregano (dry)
F-LC starter culture
Cayenne pepper
Garlic (fresh)

I started with my usual ham steak. As I've said previously, I prefer the ham steak to the shoulder/boston butt because there is less sinew and intramuscular fat that has to be trimmed out.

The ham steak was cubed up into about 1" cubes

For the fat component I used pork belly. I tried to choose pieces that were particularly fatty. I'd say they were about 70-80:20 fat to lean.

The belly is cubed up and combined with the ham cubes.

The spice mixture is carefully mixed to get good distribution of everything, and the garlic cloves are mashed through a garlic pressed, in preparation to be put into the meat.

I mixed the spice mixture and the crushed garlic into the meat and fat cubes and massaged it for a while to make sure everything was nice and evenly mixed together.

The mixture then goes to the freezer to get really cold before grinding. I let the meat get to at least 33 or 34 deg. F, before grinding.

I ground the meat and fat through the large Kitchenaid plate, which if i remember correctly is 1/4". Since i kept everything cold, the fat and meat are nice and distinct.

The starter culture was mixed with a pinch of dextrose and a splash of distilled water, and let stand for 15 or so minutes to allow the bacteria to wake up, and then poured over the meat.

I mixed the meat with the Kitchenaid paddle attachment for about 1.5 minutes on low speed. This is done to make sure everything is mixed together, the starter culture is dispersed, and to allow the proteins to form a good bind.

Don't mix too much or you'll smear the fat...not good...not good at all. You want the fat to stay in distinct blobs.

I stuffed the chorizo into 1 43mm collagen round casing, and 2 60mm natural beef middle casings. As usual, I tried to avoid any air pockets in the meat mixture by massaging it meat once it was cased, and popping and pricking the casing where there were air pockets on the surface.

Earlier that afternoon i had mixed up about 1.5g of M-EK-4 mold with about 30g of distilled water.

This was left for about 3-4 hours to "bloom".

I then diluted that mold mixture with an additional 300g of distilled water in a spray bottle. Shook it up real well, and let it sit another 15-30 minutes. (Really i don't know if these sitting periods are necessary..but i guess they can't really hurt).

The salami were sprayed and put into the fermentation box at 70 deg F. for 48 hours.

They were sprayed again with the mold 12 hours after being put into the box. The lid on the box was closed for the whole 48 hours to keep it nice and humid. As you can see on the left, the mold after 48 hours was already developing very nicely.

Here are the chorizos and a few other salami i made that day (write up coming soon) in the curing chamber.
The chamber is set at 54 deg F. and 70% RH.

I expect the 43mm chorizo to be ready in about 2 weeks, and the larger ones in about a month. Looking forward to trying something new!


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cotechino - Results

Last week when my brother was in town I cooked up one of the cotechini. I left it in it's vacuum bag, put it in a large pot of water, and slowly brought the temperature of the water up to 190-195 deg.

I then put the pot in the oven set at about 225, so that the heat would be even from all sides. The water stayed right around 200 deg. I let it cook about 2 hours, took the pot out of the oven, and then let it sit another 20-30 minutes.

The bag had blown up like a baloon, i assume from the air in the sausage expanding. It had quite of bit of fat in it that was released from the cotechino. I opened the bag, got rid of the fat, and removed the casing. The cotechino was served over lentils.

It was AWESOME. It was slightly salty, and slightly too cinnamony. I think this is likely because the salt and spices weren't diluted by direct contact with the water. Next time i'll reduce the salt by about 10-15%, and the cinnamon by about 10%.

The flavor was really good. The spices in it were pretty distinct and very tasty. The texture was great, with nice gelatin from the cooked skin, and a good quantity of fat.

Next year I may also try grinding the meat using the fine plate instead of the KA coarse one. I'm worried it might make it too much of a fine ground sausage paste, but i guess it's worth a try!

So..i'm sold. I'll be cooking my cotechini in vac bags from now on!