Pancetta recipe – made in a home fridge

Pancetta is the original bacon. Amazingly enough it is a very easy thing to make at home.

This pancetta recipe is a classic example of refrigerator charcuterie that has consistent results and requires no special set-up.

The Roman legionnaires were snacking on this delectable meat candy in between battles.

This traditional pork belly preparation can be made either as a slab (stesa) or roll (arrotolata), as you prefer.

Here is the recipe we used:

Pork belly           (we used two 5 lb. pieces)               10 lb. (4.5kg)

Garlic, minced                      4 cloves

InstaCure #2   (0.25% of meat weight)   2 tsp (11g)

Kosher salt (3% of meat weight)   3/4 cup (120g)

Dark brown sugar                  2 tbsp (30g)

Black pepper, coarsely ground  4 tbsp (8g)

Juniper berries, crushed            2 tbsp (10g)

Bay leaves, crumbled               4 (4g)

Nutmeg, freshly grated             1 tsp (2g)

Fresh thyme                    4 or 5 sprigs

Here are some beauty shots of the end product:

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We started out with two 5lb pieces of pork belly that we bought at our nearby Whole Foods supermarket

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We ground up the spices and the curing salt together and rubbed the bellies with the mixture:

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We placed each belly into a Ziplock plastic bag and put in the refrigerator for two weeks

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After the two weeks we  washed off the excess cure and spices. Don’t mind the burn marks on our chef-trainees arms he didn’t get them making Pancetta.

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We rolled one of the bellies and tied it with butchers twine (say it with me) Arrottolata! and left the other one flat Stesa style.

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The bellies are ready to go into UMAi Dry at this point. UMAi Dry is a special membrane material that will allow the pancetta to age in our home fridge. We have done this pancetta a couple of times inUMAi Dry and each time the results were excellent and consistent.

UMAi Dry looks like a regular plastic bag, but it has magic properties of letting the moisture out and letting oxygen in, while protecting the meat and its surroundings from mold, odors and other undesirable things.

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UMAi Dry is applied with a vacuum sealer, but it is not a vacuum bag. All we have to do is to get the bag into the contact with the moist meat surface and it a few days, the bag will stick to the meat and it will age/dry perfectly.

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Here it is all sealed up in UMAi Dry and ready to go rest in the fridge for 6-8 weeks.

Yea I know, thats a long time, but all good things are worth the wait.

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Voila! 7 weeks later we have a delectable hunk of meat candy. Best served thinly sliced on a slicer we like the Chef’s Choice Model 632 slicer with non-serrated blade.

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Zip It!: Even Easier Dry Sausage Making

As you know, UMAi Dry® makes it possible to dry age and dry cure in your home refrigerator.  In our never-ending quest to make it easier for you to “create tradition at home,” we are always exploring new techniques for applying UMAi Dry®.

With the release of our new 32mm UMAi Dry Sausage Casing for quick drying fermented recipes such as pepperoni, saucisson sec and snack sticks, we discovered a great solution for tying off the casings.

Traditionally to tie off sausage stuffed into natural or collagen casing, you need butcher’s twine and really strong fingers. A long sausage making session, tying and tying and tying off sausage after sausage can not only leave you with sore fingers, but also with splits with the butchers’ twine starts to cut into your skin.  The twine had to be tight or the sausage hung to ferment and dry might–PLOP–fall to the floor putting all your hard work to waste.

When UMAi Dry® casing was first released, we recommended measuring off lengths of casing, then sealing them with a vacuum sealer, as we do with most UMAi Dry® applications.  After stuffing, however, sealing the end using the VacMouse® to draw out the tiny bit of air at the end of the casing seemed fiddly and wasteful.  Moreover, you still need the hang the sausage to dry, so the strong fingers and butcher’s twine were still required.

During testing various alternatives, we discovered the common zip ties (aka tie wrap or cable ties) were a far more efficient and far less strenuous way to tie off the casings.  A simple 4″ cable tie does a great job of tying off the starting end after you thread your preferred length of casing onto the stuffing horn.  It is a clean secure way to tie off the end of each sausage as you stuff it out.

The best discovery was a technique that eliminates the need for any butcher’s twine.  When stuffing, if you stuff two links, with a small space of casing in between, you can then easily hang the pair of links for fermentation.

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Here are the steps:

  1. Zip tie the starting end.
  2. Stuff out one link.
  3. Twist the end of that stuffing and zip tie it off.
  4. Leave about an inch or two centimeters of casing, then zip tie the starting point for the second link
  5. Stuff out the second link, twist off, zip tie.
  6. Leave another short span of casing and zip tie for the starting point of your next link of sausage.
  7. Cut between the ending point and starting point leaving two sausage links together.
  8. Hang the pair from the connecting point to ferment.

The photos below will give you a good idea how this works both while stuffing and when hanging to ferment.

We hope this helpful hint makes it even easier for you to experiment with fermented dry sausage making.

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Cold Smoked Salmon – a new method

Cold smoking salmon is a method that is often out of reach for most. The cold smoking set up involves smoking the fish at low temperature for a long period of time (like 2-3 days). Cold smoking imparts that coveted smoke flavor to the fish. Cold smoking allows the fish to dry and take on a prosciutto like texture.

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While visiting Montreal this summer we discovered a new more kitchen friendly method for creating an amazingly flavorful and delicious looking Cold “Smoked” Salmon. This method is also quite safe as everything happens under refrigeration and the fish is not exposed to high temperatures.

This recipe came from our friend Yan Garzon of

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The recipe for the cure was very simple:

500 gr of coarse salt
-500 gr of brown sugar
– 20 gr of spices of your choice (Montreal steak seasoning finely ground)
-sweet ground paprika (enough to cover de filet)
-10 gr of ground black pepper

One interesting thing is that the Montreal seasoning which is marketed mainly for steak, actually contains a perfect mix of spices traditionally suited for salmon:

Here is the Montreal seasoning recipe:
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp crushed black pepper
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp crushed coriander
1 tsp dill
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

We prepared more cure than was needed for this particular cure and did a little experiment creating four different recipes for Cold “Smoked” Salmon:

We did a cure in 4 different ratios of cure/fish by weight: 5%, 10%, 25% and 50%

The basic method was as follows:

Mix all of these together and keep in a Ziploc bag or Mason jar.
Method
1-cover the filet with some paprika that you sprinkle on it. Purpose is to get a nice red colored finish product:

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2-Use a big Ziploc bag to fit your fish filet, and you can cut the filet in 2 or 4 part, as you wish to fit in your curing bag and after in the UMAI DRY bags.

3-Weigh the fish and put in the bag two table spoons of liquid smoke, and 50% of the fish weight of curing solution also. (we made 4 batches of various ratios)

4-toss the bag and the mix evenly so it covers the flesh part

5-Put in the fridge for 7 days, and turn it every day.

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As you can see after a couple of days of curing the salt pulled out various amounts of water from the fish most being pulled out by the 50% cure ratio
6-After 7 days, take out of the ziplock bags and lightly rinse under fresh cold water, and dry with clean paper towel.

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7-Vacuum seal in UMAI DRY Small Charcuterie Bag and keep in the fridge on a open wire rack for about 12 days. The fish must be elevated to allow airflow all the way around it to allow moisture to evaporate through the bag.

The UMAi Dry bags are special bags that allow the fish to dry in the refrigerator. The moisture loss will develop a flavor and texture of cold smoked salmon. The UMAi Dry bags are used mainly in Charcuterie and Salumi applications for creating capicola, bresaola, pancetta in a home refrigerator.

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When the fish was fully cured and dried it has lost an average 35% of its original weight:

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This product is very shelf stable when refrigerated and can last a couple of months if vacuum sealed in regular Foodsaver bags.

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Sodium Nitrite – Is it a bad thing?

Much of todays society is focused on food “purity”. Many products today are marketed as “locally raised”, “sustainable” and free of many ingredients deemed to be undesirable.
One such ingredient is commonly referred to as “nitrite”. Processed meat products like salami, ham, turkey, etc. are boasting a claim to be “nitrite free“.
What is referred to as “nitrite” is actually sodium nitrite a salt commonly used in preserving meat and protecting the meat from growth of harmful bacteria know as Clostridium botulinum which can cause botulism a dangerous possibly fatal condition.

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A “nitrite free” product purchased in an American supermarket most certainly does contain nitrite, but not in its salt form. The manufacturers of these “nitrite free” products often use extracts of celery or celery seed, which naturally contains elevated levels of nitrite. The labeling laws in the US allow companies who use a plant derived form of nitrite to claim that their products are “nitrite free”.
One of the interesting details about the use of celery derived nitrites is that it is virtually impossible to control the concentration of nitrite in the meat precisely, since the levels of nitrite in celery can vary widely depending on its source.

By adding a nitrite salt such as Instacure #1 or Instacure #2 to your home made sausage you can control the level of nitirite in the meat more precisely and avoid over or under dose.
Instacure #1 contains 93.75% salt and 6.25% sodium nitrite and should be added at a level of .25% of the weight of the meat.
It is used for fresh and cooked sausages and hams
Instacure #2 contains 92.75% salt and 6.25% sodium nitirite as well as 1% sodium nitrate. It should be added to meat at a level of .25%. This curing salt is used in dry sausages and charcuterie meats that are aged longer than 2 weeks.
The sodium nitrate component of this additive breaks down into sodium nitrite. Sodium nitrite eventually breaks down through oxidation into nitric oxide in dry sausages leaving no trace behind.

Michael Ruhlman outlines the myths behind “nitrite free” labeling in his post: http://ruhlman.com/2011/05/the-no-nitrites-added-hoax/

Pepperoni the artisan way with UMAi Dry

Pepperoni is an American dry sausage introduced by italian immigrants in the beginning of the 20th century. It is a cousin of several traditional italian salami products like: Soppressata, Salami Toscano, etc.

Today the popularity of this sausage exceeds any other dry sausage, since pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping around the world. However, the pepperoni that is put on your Domino’s pizza is produced in large factories using very inexpensive ingredients and is cooked prior to drying. It has little to do with its origins as an artisanal dry sausage. We went on a quest to make pepperoni the way it was originally made. Stanley Marianski in his book “The Art of Making Fermented Sausages” had the recipe we were looking for.

This simple and delicious artisan dry sausage can be made with the new UMAi Dry 32 mm Dry Sausage Kit right in the comfort of your kitchen.

Here is the process and recipe:

We used lean pork tenderloin since it is very affordable at our local Costco warehouse (you can use any leaner cut of pork), we also used beef chuck and pork back fat.

You would want to par-freeze all the meat in thin strips before making the sausage. Once the meat is semi-frozen, you can cut it into small cubes in order to feed them into the grinder:

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After the meat is cubed you can put it back in the freezer and assemble you cure and spices:

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Now we are ready to grind the meat, we like to use a large 6mm (1/4 in.) grinding plate, it makes the texture and drying more even. When grinding the meat you would want to alternate beef, pork and fat to get some mixing in the grinding step:

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After all the meat is ground, the cure and spices can be added. We use wooden paddles to mix the cure and spices in since the ground meat is cold and mixes very easily. Warming up the meat with hands makes mixing the cure more difficult.

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After the spices and the cure are mixed in we will add the Bactoferm T-SPX starter cuture, which has been previously dissolved in previously boiled and cooled to room temperature water. After the culture has been added we begin to “knead” the sausage mix with hands until begins to stiffen:

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We thne put the mixture back into the freezer and get our stuffer ready and prepare the UMAi Dry 32mm casing included in the sausage kit. We will use 4 inch zip-ties to close the ends of sausage chubs:

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We stuffed the chilled sausage mix into pair chubs, trying to avoid air pockets. The pair chubs will make it easier to hand the sausage for fermentation:

 

 

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We used an unused oven as our fermentation chamber. The oven was at room temperature 65-75F. We fermented for 36 hours. The pepperoni sausage will change color from pale orange to bright red after fermentation:

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After fermentation the pepperoni is ready for drying. UMAi Dry allows you to dry in any modern household fridge on a wire rack. Don’t use a beer fridge, mini-fridge or garage fridge in the winter. We used our regular kitchen fridge to dry:

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The 32 mm UMAi Dry sausage casing dries pretty quickly. In this case it took only 2 weeks for the sausage to loose the 35-40% weight required for dry sausage

 

 

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This pepperoni exceeded our expectations. The flavor and texture was levels above commercially produced pepperoni. It had a true artisanal character.

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Recipe is below:

Traditional Pepperoni

(Slow-fermented Dry Style)

Ingredients per 2.2 kg 5 lb of meat

Lean beef 670g 1.45 lb

Lean pork 1375g  / 3 lb

Pork fat (Back Fat) 250g  / 0.55 lb

Salt 65g 11 tsp

Instacure #2 5g  / 1 tsp

Dextrose 4g  / 1 tsp

Sugar 6g  / 1 tsp

Black pepper 6g  / 3 tsp

Paprika 12g  / 6 tsp

Fennel 5g  / 4 tsp

Cayenne Pepper 4g  / 2 tsp

Bactoferm T-SPX 0.5 g   / 1/2 tsp

(dissolved in 2 tbsp lukewarm de-chlorinated water)

Making modifications to Foodsaver

Richard who is an UMAi Dry user, came up with a solution to a problem that many UMAi Dry users face when trying to seal a large 16-22 lb piece of beef using a basic household vacuum sealer like this Foodsaver V2244. This solution allows the user to have more control over the sealing process. Here is Richard’s account:

I recently decided to modify my vacuum sealer so that I no longer am dependent on the automated sealing feature. The sealer I use for the Umai dry bags is a Foodsaver V2244, a pretty basic model.
This vacuum sealer has the pretty much standard controls. One button starts the vacuum and then seals automatically. A second button either stops the vacuum and seals the bag, or simply seals the the bag (for adding a second seal or making bags from the roll material). Some units have more controls, but all should have these two basic functions.
These sealers have a pressure switch which controls when the vacuum is stopped and the seal is made. The assumption from the manufacturer is that the bag has the small channels embossed into the bags which allows the air to escape. The Umai dry bags don’t have these, so occasionally, or more frequently even, the bags form enough of an air tight seal just beyond the unit to allow the pressure switch to actuate the sealing step even though there’s still air in the bag.
Remove, or disable this switch and the vacuum pump will run continuously until you press the seal button. This will allow you to take the time to massage the air out of the bag and make the seal when you are satisfied wit the degree of air removed from the bag.
Of course you loose the automated vacuum sealing feature and probably any warranty you had on the unit.
Removing the switch on my unit was quite easy. Once the unit was opened by removing the bottom there was easy access to the controls. There’s not much in these units. A vacuum pump, a pressure switch, some tubing, a small electric control circuit to time the sealing bar heater/pump operation.
On this unit there is a small tubing which runs from the vacuum pump to a “T”. From the “T” the tubing continues the the sealing chamber as well as a vacuum switch.
Now, here, there are two ways to disable the automation:
1. Remove the vacuum switch from the vacuum tubing altogether. This is what I opted for since this unit is dedicated to dry bags.
2. Add a toggle switch to the circuit which effectively removes the vacuum switch from the control circuit. The toggle switch would let you choose between manual or automatic vacuum/sealing. This may be a better (albeit more work) choice if you use the unit for regular kitchen duty as well as for the dry bags. Depending on the sealer and how the vacuum switch is incorporated it may require some soldering on a circuit board.

Of my unit preventing the switch from being used was simple. Since the tubing from the pump goes to a “T”, and there was enough tubing to to go straight from the pump to the sealing chamber – I simply removed the tubing from the “T” and connected the pump directly to the sealing chamber. The vacuum switch is still in the unit but no longer connected to the vacuum pump. When using the unit the switch never sees vacuum and so the pump will continue to run until you initiate the seal, or the pump overheats.

You still need the vac-mouse to keep some flow across the unit’s gaskets.

A lot of words for a 5 minute job, here are some photos:

V2244 Sealer before modification

V2244 Sealer before modification

Foodsaver V2244 modification tools you needFoodsaver V2244 internals before modification Foodsaver V2244 internals after modificationFoodsaver V2244 after modification

Brisket Dry Aging in UMAi Dry

For a long time we had questions about dry aged Brisket. Competition BBQ -ers swore that it improved the taste and texture of the meat.

Well time has come for us to find out for ourselves: Here is a typical 6.5lb brisket flat, which is a tougher and leaner brisket muscle.

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We broke it out of the Cryovac and sealed it into UMAi Dry:

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Put it into the fridge for aging. We gave it 3 weeks and at the end it transformed to this:

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We took it out and peeled back UMAi Dry bag:

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We then had a dilemma wether to trim off the hard bark or not. We decided to trim:

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Ou of the original 6.5lb. We had about 1 lb of moisture loss and .5lb of trim, so we ended up with a 5lb            21 Day Dry Aged Brisket. We used a Beef Q-Rub from the Wayzata Bay Spice Company.

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We rubbed on the spices and put it into a ziplock bag and placed it back in the fridge for overnight marination. The downstairs neighbor is a 6lb ribeye going for 60 days.

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A friend offered his Traeger grill in exchange for a piece of the action. We have never previously used a pellet smoker. We smoked with a blend of hickory and cherry pellets.

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We set up the temps on the grill to give us about 225F cooking temp:

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A big lesson was that the temp controls on a pellet grill were not at all like on your home oven. They wandered all over the place and you had to watch the settings to avoid flame outs and excessive pellet feed.

But this beast generated plenty of smoke:

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We took the internal temp to 154F (which took 3 hours) and then used what they call “Texas Crutch“, which is simply taking the Brisket off the grill, placing it on some aluminum foil and adding some liquid to help raise the internal temperature faster and retain moisture. In our case we added some apple juice and beef broth mix.

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For internal temp measurement we used a nifty gadget we discovered called iGrill thermometer that displays the temp on our iPhone remotely using bluetooth. We took the Brisket off the grill when the internal temp reached 197F. This took 3 hours.

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We then placed the foiled brisket into a towel and cooler for 1 hour to FTC (foil towel cooler)

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Then it was time for a party:

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This experience was very rewarding. The Brisket was very tender and juicy. Our “tasting panel” was very pleased with the results.

Mortadella di Bologna – Made at Home with UMAi Dry®

Mortadella is a classic italian staple dating back to Roman times when they used to flavor it with myrtle berries (rather than precious peppercorns, as we do today). The most well known is the Bologna version of this versatile sausage.

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We decided to employ UMAi Dry® in this classic cooked sausage application. Our recipe comes from the Stanley Marianski collection available on his website www.meatsandsausages.com (or from his book on our website). The results exceeded our expectations so we decided to share this with the world.

Here is the recipe:

(Note: We added some ice water to the emulsion, which is not in the original recipe)

Mortadella di Bologna

Pork                     1590g  3.5 lb

Jowls, bacon or fat trimmings      454g     1 lb

Back fat   227g       0.5 lb

Salt 41g                  1.5oz

Instacure #1     5g      1 tsp

White pepper     4.5g   2 tsp

Whole peppercorns      9g   2 tsp

Coriander 1.13  1/2 tsp Garlic powder   3.5g   1 tsp

Anise 2.27g                              1 tsp

Mace 2.27g                              1 tsp

Caraway, ground    1.14g       1/2 tsp

Pistachios, whole   8g           1/2 c

Cold red wine   150ml           1/2 c

Ice water 150ml 1/2 c

First of all: Start with frozen strips of meat! The most important predictor of successful results in sausage-making is the temperature of the meat during grinding, mixing and cooking. It should be cold, cold, COLD.  We make it a habit slice the meat into finger thickness strips and freeze them between layers of plastic wrap to keep them separated.  Meat prepared and set to freeze–onto the next step.

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We prepared our spices and cure (keeping the pistachios and whole peppercorns separate, to be added at the end).

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This time, we used a mortar and pestle on the larger spices, then mixed it all with the cure (salt and Instacure #1–fast acting type for cooked sausage).

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Next, we cut the meat into 1 inch cubes, so they would fit into the grinder hopper:

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We first ground the meat through a 8mm plate. Since we only had a hand grinder, this was a work out and a half for the biceps!

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After once again chilling the meat down, we mixed the spices and cure into the ground meat using paddles to keep the meat cold.  This also makes it easy to so the mix in the dry ingredients evenly and easily.

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After the spices and cure were in, we loaded the meat into the grinder for the second grind through a  4.5 mm plate . We used a scoop to load the ground, seasoned meat instead of hands to prevent the meat from warming up.

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Once the meat was ground, the magic of mortadella-making began.  This type of sausage needs to be emulsified in a food processor. Ours was a vintage Cuisinart that handled the three batch job with proficiency.

During emulsification, water and wine were added slowly to keep the meat mass moving. Special care needs to be taken not to over-emulsify.  The food processor only needs to grind the meat into a creamy mass that stretches like a dough when you pinch out a bit. Once that consistency is achieved, the process needs to stop.

We found it best to pulse the processor and check the meat consistency periodically to make sure that it wouldn’t get over-worked. Over-worked meat can produce a rubbery texture in the finished Mortadella.

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With our emulsion ready, once more we tucked it into the fridge to chill.

While it was cooling down, we finely cubed the back fat, then blanched it with boiling water through a sieve.  This helps the fat to adhere to the emulsion and prevents it from falling out of the slices after the Mortadella is done and sliced.

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We took the emulsion out of the fridge, mixed in the peppercorns, finely chopped back fat and pistachios–and we were ready for the UMAi Dry®.

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For this recipe, we needed an UMAi Dry® casing with a pretty large diameter. We used the 8 in x 18 inch (200 x 450) UMAi Dry Tenderloin/Large Charcuterie size. We gathered the end of the bag in an accordion pattern and used a zip-tie/cable tie to secure the end closed.

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Once the end was secured, we stuffed the meat into the bag using our 5# stuffer doing our very best to avoid air pockets.

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Once the meat was stuffed into the UMAi Dry® casing, we pressed out any air left at the top of the bag out and closed it off with another zip tie.

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Now it was time for the “legatura”–a special way of the tying of the sausage to support it. The basic principle is that the sausage should be hung supported from the bottom and not hung by the top end, so as not to put stress on the casing. The blanket stitch pattern of tying worked well for us. Here is the Mortadella hanging in the oven:

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We then set the oven to 170F or 77C (the lowest temp possible on our oven) and put a roasting pan under the sausage and poured several cups of boiling water into the roasting pan to provide a source of moist heat to the oven.

We let the sausage cook for 8 hours until it reached an internal temperature of 154F or 68C. We used our iGrill thermometer to measure the internal temperature–waiting until the meat had cooked long enough to be solid and past the risk of bursting. The probe should not be inserted into the sausage in the beginning of the cook cycle since the meat is still quite liquid and can leak out. We inserted the probe after 7 hours of cooking:

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The color of the meat was a rosy cherrywood color and the warm, spicy, meaty aroma filled the house (making the dog crazy!).  If your only impression of bologna is the pre-sliced plastic floppy frisbee-worthy variety, the aroma of a true mortadella may be beyond what you can imagine.

The UMAi Dry® performed exceptionally well, releasing moisture and while also preventing the product from drying out. We took the Mortadella out of the oven, immediately put it into a pot of cold water for 10 minutes to chill the surface and arrest the rise of the internal temperature.

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The final step was to allow the Mortadella to rest in the refrigerator for 24 hours, allowing its internal temperature to drop:

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Once chilled, the Mortadella was ready to slice.

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We fired up our Chef’s Choice slicer and went to work.  The Mortadella rolled off in tender, delectable slices.  We needed to retrieve the occasional escaped pistachio, but the end result had the complex aroma of several spices and a flavor uniting the zing of the peppercorns and mellowness imparted by the pistachios and cubes of back fat.

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We would show you how tasty it was, if we could!  Sharing it with friends and exploding their pre-conceptions about bologna has been a blast.  Intense process–but well worth the time and effort.

 

What fat is best for dry sausage?

The classic salami (or any dry sausage) is meat and fat unified through natural fermentation and drying to yield delicious meat candy.

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In the world of salumi and charcuterie, pork is king.  However, the use of pork is forbidden in many religions like Islam and Judaism. This makes most charcuterie and salumi recipes unacceptable to a large part of the world’s population.

During our recent sujuk making experience, we encountered a bit of a dilemma when it came to selecting fat for this wonderful spicy sausage. The use of pork fat was out of the question since we wanted to produce Middle East-appropriate “porkless” sausage.

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We decided to delve into an exploration of the various properties of fat derived from different species, as it relates to dry sausage. Here are our findings, by species:

1. Pork fat – undoubtedly ideal for any dry sausage recipe, has a high melting point and ages wonderfully into that mellow sausage deliciousness that most salumi and charcuterie-lovers know well. Pork back fat is recommended for most dry sausage recipes.

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2. Beef fat – our experience of making beef-only salami was fairly successful, although we can say that the beef fat was not the optimal fat to add to dry sausage. Beef fat tends to oxidize and turn slightly yellow, making the salami look less appealing.  It also does not produce the same nutty aged flavor as pork.

3. Duck fat – when we made duck prosciutto we realized immediately how duck fat will melt at just room temperature. This makes it significantly less desirable for dry sausage, the duck fat is likely to melt away, making the sausage greasy. This was the reason we opted to use pork fat in our duck salami recipe. Poultry fats in general are better suited for cooked sausages, especially emulsion type products like traditional Bologna.

4. Sheep tail fat – This is the ultimate solution for making a true “porkless” salami. Unfortunately, this fat is darned near impossible to buy in the US.  If you can get your hands on sheep tail fat, it is the best for making soudjuk or other  no-pork type of dry salami.

The reason sheep tail fat is hard to find is that only the special Awassi Fat Tail sheep produce this hard and versatile fat.   It has a high melting point and good aging characteristics. It is called the Middle Eastern version of schmalz (chicken fat).

We have not used this fat in any of the recipes that we have tried so far, but we are always searching for new ingredients and this one is quite interesting to us.

We found an excellent blogpost by a notable chef/blogger Jennifer McLagan on sheep tail fat and its versatility.

5. Out of the box solutions: White chocolate – In a recent conversation a  European butcher/charcutier we learned that they have used white chocolate as an animal fat substitute in some venison salami recipes.  They said it took some experimentation, but ended up producing some really unique and delicious results when paired with dried, tart fruit.

Please let us know here or on the UMAi Dry® Forum is you have any other great ideas!

5 Tips for making Dry sausage with UMAi Dry

To make good looking and good tasting dry sausage with UMAi Dry is not that hard. There a few basic practices to follow to ensure you get the very best results for your effort and patience.

Here are a few helpful tips:

1. Keep the meat cold: Slice the meat into thick slices (+/- ¾ in./1 cm) and partially freeze prior to cutting them into cubes for grinding. Keep the meat as cold as possible through each step of the process right until it is stuffed into UMAi Dry® casing. Keeping the meat cold (aka icy, nearly frozen) makes grinding and mixing easy as can be.  Frozen meat grinds out with much better definition. The ground meat will keep its shape.   The defined grind will also allow the spices and cure to distribute more easily and evenly, coating each individual particle. Finally. stuffing a cold sausage mixture guarantees an well-defined appearance to the finished dry sausage, achieving a classic salumi look.

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2. Grind large: Use a large hole plate when grinding the meat for dry sausage. Larger meat particles will allow faster, more even drying.  It will also give the sausage the classic texture of a fine salami. Smaller grind will take longer to dry and create a less defined texture.

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3. Use paddles or other tools to mix cure and spices into the ground meat :  If you use hands, you end up with frozen digits and sticky meat, making even mixing next to impossible. Wood, plastic or metal paddles will help keep the ground meat cold and help coat each particle with cure and spices for an even mix. Once the spices and cure coat the sausage particles well, you can use hands to knead the mixture until it gets stiff, indicating a stable mixture.

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4. Use a dedicated stuffer to stuff the casing: This is a lesson we’ve learned the hard way.  Hand grinders and grinder stuffer attachments will generally result paste like or doughy re-ground meat–very undesirable for a classic dry sausage. A dedicated stuffer will work more gently, preserving the structure of the meat.  The result is the well-defined particle pattern of classic salami.

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5. Ferment the sausage in a protected space with little air flow: Fermentation is one of the most critical steps in making dry sausage.  During this step the sausage should be prevented from drying. Fermenting sausages should be placed in an area with little to no air movement.  Rapid airflow can dry out the outside of the sausage preventing the outer surface from properly fermenting. As a result you may have uneven drying and poor appearance of the finished product. We’ve begun to use an oven or similar enclosed space. One sausage maker showed us how he rigged up a paper grocery bag umbrella-style to shelter the batch of sausages he hung to ferment.

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These are practices we’ve found helpful in our pursuit of making better and better dry sausage.  We hope they help you get the best results for all the time, effort and patience you will put into mastering the art of salumi!