lonzino and updates

I recently did a mole rubbed lonzino (got the idea from Grant at Blackhoof) with some of the suckling loins left over from our pigs. The spice rub was an adaptation of a rub we did at Beacon (when I was in New York) with a couple of spices (that I wanted to throw in), plus cure 2, salt, etc. I had never made a lonzino, but it was pretty easy. They dried up SUPER quick. They were at about 58% water loss after about 2 weeks or so, maybe. Needless to say they turned out good. There is just the hint of cocoa (I would have liked there to maybe be some heat), a nice saltiness, and a nice gamey pork finish. I was thinking it would make a good amuse with pickled corn and candied pumpkin seed powder. I'll have to try it out, maybe throw the idea at Chef. I also weighed one of my Lamb Salami today and it is right about 33% weight loss, but still feels a little soft (gonna check it in another 5 to 7 days) so I put it back into the chamber. Right now i'm hanging right around 60' with an RH of 80 - 84% (which i'm having trouble controlling due to the small size of my chamber), but all in all everything seems to be moving right along with no major problems (got a nice mold growing).

Lamb and more Lamb

I was looking through the freezer at work and came across some lamb shoulders that were in there from the past menu change. So, I went home and looked through "The Art of Making Fermented Sausages," and came across the Merguez recipe (we added some zaatar spice as well). Talked it over with Chef Windus, and decided that it would be an easy enough recipe for us to execute. (The reason that I like Marianski's book is that all of the sausages are fermented and then smoked/dried or dried.) However, when I got over to the commissary the grinder is a hand cranked grinder/stuffer combo, and let me just say that I worked out twice that day. Anyways here are some pictures of the Merguez at day 1 and a shot I snapped at day 5. My chamber is super humid, but I just have to kind of monitor it everyday, and often times crack the door to let some moisture out. Overall I was pleased with the flavor (a nice subtle heat).

Now that the Merguez was working, I still had about 3 lbs of Lamb left over, so I thought why not try to make a Salami. I didn't use a recipe for this one, just some basic guidelines for a normal salami (cure weights, bactoferm, etc.) and then added what spices I thought would be good (fennel, black pepper, crushed red pepper, red wine...nothing too crazy). This one was definitely a challenge for me though. Everything was going smoothly since I used an electric grinder this time, however since it was such a small recipe, I wanted to just hurry up and get it done before service (which hurry up didn't happen...and by hurry up I mean pipe it into casings instead of walking over to the other hotel and use the stuffer). Nevertheless it turned out well. The salamis are incubating right now, and I will hang them in a couple of days.


When Chef Todd English was in town, we had tons of sucklings in, so I took about 6 or so of the heads and decide to de-jowl them. Now, the jowl of a suckling is super small compared any normal 200 - 300 lb pig (obviously). Nevertheless, I decided to go ahead and try to cure them and make guanciale. I did the basic cure out of Rhulman's Charcuterie book to about 5 of them, a maple glazed cure to a couple and then BBQ rubbed a couple of them. They turned out really well actually. A bit salty when eaten on their own. Chef Windus decided to use them for our Chef's Pasta dish and so they were brunoised, rendered out and used in a carbonara. Overall I was pleased, but know there is still a lot that I need to learn (and I definitely am).

Here are pictures of cooked Jowl and the dried ones.

the curing chamber (its what I have to work with, and low budget)

Chef Windus and I made some Merguez this past weekend, and I have some left over lamb, and I had this thought of lamb salami with the leftover lamb. Definitely going to be doing that here in the next couple of days, so I'm pretty stoked. Hope that it turns out caus eI'm doing this one without a recipe, just some basic guidelines.

Lots O' Suckling

I guess I should first start by telling you that most of my first attempts at creating sausages, prosciutto, or any cured muscles for that matter have been with left over suckling pig parts that aren't being used by anyone else. You can often times find me walking around with a cart of random animal parts that I have taken from the butcher before he threw them away (one mans scraps is another mans salami).

So, in saying that, the first successful thing that I actually did was, as most of my original attempts were, inspired Grant Van Gameren. If you haven't heard of him or his site, you should definitely check him out.

I took the suckling belly and cured it in a pastrami brine that I got out of my CIA Garde Manger book. Cured them in the brine for 5 days and then allowed them to dry uncovered overnight in the walk-in to form a pellicle. I rubbed them with a black peppercorn-coriander mixture and hot smoked them on a rack on the grill (I was doing it during service... not always an easy task). I then thought instead of braising them I would cryovac them with the tiniest bit of water and cooked them at 82' f for 12 hours. They were a bit salty and I think it was from being cryovac'd, however they were pretty good eaten with other components.

Here is the process from start to finish.

the blog

This blog is pretty much just going to be me documenting my attempts (successful and unsuccessful) in Charcuterie at home and at the restaurant in which I work(Bluezoo). I don't know exactly when I became completely interested in the art of curing and preserving. I think it has to do with the fact that a) I love salt, pork, offals, beef... well, lets face it, I'm definitely not a vegetarian (or vegan for that matter); b) I love the fact that you can take something and instead of letting it go to waste, you can preserve it and often times make it last indefinitely; and c) love learning about food and how different ingredients can effect it.

I believe that it's in Thomas Kellers "Under Pressure" where one of his sous chefs tells a cocky CIA student (curious about "molecular gastronomy") that "he should come back to him when he knows all that he can about NaCl....Sodium Chloride"...AKA Salt. This got me thinking. As a chef/cook I use salt in everyday preparations from dressing salads to seasoning pieces of meat, but how can I transform something into a different texture or flavor using salt, as apposed to adding modified starches, hydrocolloids, etc. (which don't get me wrong, I am also very interested in).

So, like I was saying before, due to the fact that I am just starting to build a foundation in Charcuterie I will be documenting as much as I can from failures to success stories (hopefully mostly the latter), and would hope that if anyone actually reads this blog would share thoughts or suggestions, as we are all trying to achieve hopefully the same general goal in our profession: Continuing to learn about products and using this knowledge to provide people with the best food and greatest experience that we can possibly give them.