Sunday, February 22, 2009

Chorizo - Tasting Notes

The chorizo is ready! Well, it was ready last week, but I'm just getting around to writing about it now. This is the 1st one I've taken out. It's the one that was cased in an artificial round, 43mm casing. It lost about 43% of it's weight. I've left the others in the curing chamber to lose more weight. I think chorizo needs to be pretty hard. This one was a touch too soft really.

As you can see, the fat is nice and distinct. There is the correct amount of it, and it is well dispersed.

The flavor is good, but not great. It is a bit too strong on one or more of the flavorings. I'm still trying to work out which. I think it might be too much garlic, and possibly too much smoked paprika.

The black pepper is right. A friend of mine, who knows Spanish chorizo better than I do, says the black pepper is too prominent, and the garlic is correct. Maybe I'm just used to more Italian salami. Either way, I do like it, and would make it again, but reducing the garlic by about 20%, and maybe reducing the smoked paprika by about 15%, and replace that with a hot paprika. It does need some more heat, the cayenne wasn't enough.

The salt is correct, it's nice and

I'm looking forward to trying the ones that i've left in the curing chamber. I think they'll be nicer with some "heavier" chew to them, and with the added time in the chamber, maybe the overly strong notes will mellow out.

The mold as you can see did its job. The salame is nicely covered.

I would grade this a C+ for my tastes. Good, but needs work. Not that it's surprising. I've never made this before, and just took a number of recipes that sounded good, and mashed them together:)


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Salame di Sant'Olcese - Tasting Notes

It may not seem like long enough has passed from the posting of the recipe for the salame di Sant'Olcese for it to be ready, but that's only because i've been sitting on the recipe for a couple of weeks!'s ready. Or at least, i've taken one of the 3 that I made out of the curing chamber out.

I took one out pretty early, as I wanted to keep this salame pretty soft. By weight, it "claims" to have lost about 43% of it's weight, over 20 days. I say "claims", because it feels rather soft, and i'm wondering if I mis-weighed them when i put them into the curing chamber...all other salami that i've made before felt considerably harder, at less water weight loss. Either way, I felt like eating one.

As i've said, it is quite soft. Maybe a tiny bit too soft, it probably could have used another 4-7 days, good thing I have 2 or 3 more in the curing chamber. If i were to compare it to something in softness, the first thing that comes to mind is a marshmallow, maybe a little bit harder.

As far as the tasting goes, it's excellent. Really is. The pepper is quite pronounced, it's nicely salty, and the garlic is there in the background. It is not sour at all, which is nice, as I don't care for the San Francisco style of cured meats that are prounouncedly sour. I think it's because of the starter culture i used, and becuase i ferment at a low temperature (70F).

The fat is distinct, and is in perfect proportion to the meat. The salame so far does not present any air pockets. Overall I'm really pleased.

Of course, there are some improvements that can be made, there always are. In slicing the salame, one can see, and feel while chewing, about a 1/8" ring on the outer edge which is slightly drier. I attribute this to my humidity not being high enough in the chamber. As such, for the stuff that's still in there, i bumped up the humitiy from about 70% to about 75%. This should also slow down the curing/drying time, which I believe will lead to better flavor as well.

I'd give this salame a solid B+. It's a touch soft, and the dry ring around the edge keeps it from an A :).


Monday, February 9, 2009

Salame di Sant'Olcese

I didn't know much about the salame from Sant'Olcese until i read about it in an Italian cured meats blog. Sant'Olcese is a small town outside Genova. This salame is characterized by a 50/50 mix of beef and pork for the lean portion, and pork fat. It is also traditionally very lightly smoked. Unfortunately I don't have the ability to smoke the salame, so mine will be a Sant'Olcese style salame. This is true for all my salami. None of them can be the real thing, since that requires me to actually be there. They are all "in the style of" the place or region. Anyhow, let's get to the recipe and method.

Salame Sant'Olcese
IngredientQuantity(g)% of Meat+Fat
Pork ham meat
Beef chuck meat
Pork belly (70/30 fat/lean)
Cure #2
Black pepper (whole)
Black pepper (ground)
Garlic powder

F-LC starter culture

You'll recognize a number of the pictures from the chorizo post. I didn't see a point of taking different pictures for the exact same step. I'm reposting them in case people end up in this post through a link from somewhere, so they can see the whole process.

The usual suspect. A ham steak. This is cubed up nicely.

Pork belly strips waiting to be cubed up as the fat component of the salame. Hmmmm pork belly.......

This shows the beef chuck, which was also cubed, the ham meat, and the pork belly. I forgot to take a picture of the piece of beef chuck, but i think you might have seen one before at a grocery! Buy one, remove fat and sinew and cube it up.
This is mixed with the cure and spices shown below, and put in a freezer to get nice and firm for 45 minutes or so.

This is the spice mixtures and cure that went into the salame. It's very simple. Not a lot of flavors to get in the way of porky beefyness.

The meat was ground on the large kitchen aid plate. Which i think is 1/4"...i don't recall, and i keep forgetting to measure it. I don't know what is wrong with this picture, i couldn't get the white balance on the camera right, and the picture looks blue...anyhow...the meats and fat are ground.

The starter culture was diluted with about 30g of distilled water, and the poured over the ground meat mixture.

The mixture is then mixed for about 2 minutes with the Kitchen Aid or about 3-4 minutes by hand until a nice bind is achieved. I forgot to take a picture of the mixed product. Sorry.

The salame was cased into 3 natural casings, and 1 collagen 60mm casing. I figured I'd take the opportunity to to a scientific taste test of salame cured in natural casings and one cured in artificial. Will it make a difference? I don't know! We'll see. I must admit, using the artificial ones is MUCH more convenient. They are shelf stable, even, don't smell, don't require washing, but they do lose the natural appeal and old world look.

The M-EK4 mold mold is mixed with 30 or so grams of distilled water and allowed to bloom for a couple of hours.

The mold "concentrate" is then diluted with about 300g of distilled water in a spray bottle.

The salami were placed in the fermentation box at 70 deg. F. for 48 hours. I was actually able to keep my basement room right around 70 or 71 F, no need to run the lightbulb in the fermentation box.

After the 48 hours, the salami had a nice coating of mold already.

The salami were fermented for 48 hours, and then put into the curing chamber at 54 deg. F and about 70% RH.

Looking forward to trying them in about a month or so.