I’ve been working on a lot of meat-based projects lately.
It’s beyond long overdue, but I finally got around to hanging my ‘nduja and csabai this past weekend. They were both smoked a few weeks ago, but the lack of opportune curing space in our condo has had me stymied for some time. Up until this point both were sitting in the fridge, contaminating my other foodstuffs with their pungent, smoky aromas. If it weren’t for our household of kitties I would have had the perfect environment for curing in the basement, but unfortunately I’m almost certain that the ammonia smell from their litterboxes would eventually permeate (and ruin) perfectly good meat. After all the work I’ve put into these projects that was not a risk I was willing to take.
In the end I decided to jerry rig a few suspension apparatuses around my kitchen that will (hopefully) be able to withstand the job. So far they seem to be holding up just fine, and the way I figure it, it’s only going to get lighter anyway, as the meat begins to lose it’s moisture.
My apologies for the general crappiness of these pictures; I doubt you’ll be able to discern what it is I was doing. It’s difficult to properly capture ‘nduja hanging suspended from a broomstick just outside the top of a kitchen windowsill. It’s also just below the air conditioning register in the ceiling, which should keep it nicely cooled, I think. Despite the rather bad lighting, I can assure you that after several days of smoking these salamis have taken on a burnished mahogany cast and slightly firmer (but squishier) texture. I originally intended to hang them for about a year, but now that they’re out in the open in my kitchen I may have to rethink that strategy. At the very least I’ll do 6 months, but in the end it’s going to be something I play by ear.
Just a quick pictorial to share what I’ve been working on with you…
It’s hard to make raw meat look sexy (doubly so when it happens to be sausage) but these juicy links of homemade smoky poblano and pork sausage are just crying out for a grill and some Mexican-inspired menus. Tequila anyone?
I’ve received word.
The stuff is finally in.
‘Nduja, csabai and smoked turkey, here I come!
Also came across this over at The Sausage Debauchery (love that name!) this morning. The second bacon sounds so delicious I might have to try playing with some of it, too. Here’s hoping the butcher’s got a nice slab of uncured belly meat with my name on it!
Until next time…
Yesterday morning I finally found the place to procure the rest of my sausage-making software.
Or rather, a friendly group of fellow ‘hounds pointed me in the right direction, to an online vendor called Malabar Super Spice. It’s funny because when I first looked into sausage-making at the beginning of the year I had looked up Malabar, but promptly forgot about it. Having gotten reacquainted with their website, I managed to order myself something that goes by the dubious name of beef middles, among other things. According to all the sausage-recipes I’ve been planning lately, beef middle is what I need to stuff the meat into. I’m not quite certain exactly what part the middle comes from, but I’m pretty sure I’d rather not know.
When it gets here on Tuesday, it’ll be time to start working on my much anticipated ‘nduja (even though it has to cure for a year) and also the other item I’ve been contemplating, some spicy Hungarian csabai. I’ve always wanted to make a prosciutto, but I don’t think I have the room, ideal temperate zone or expertise to properly pull that one off without killing myself (or more likely the Everyman, since he’s the real prosciutto fiend in this household).
I’ve been slowly trying to increase my comfort level with cured meats this year, but I still don’t have that gut feeling like I know what I’m doing. And unfortunately with stuff like this where molds can be involved, not knowing what you’re doing is somewhat dangerous. That’s why I always sample my homemade products first. If they don’t kill me, then I’m ok with the Everyman or others trying them. But I’m not going to make other people sick because of my own stupidity.
In other news, I received word of my first Daring Bakers challenge yesterday. I don’t think I’m allowed to share what it is with you right now (I’m still a little fuzzy on the rules) but come May 27th, photos of my failure (or success) will be posted on this blog for all to see. Having read through the recipe a few times already, I’ve got a mild case of anxiety about whether I can pull this one off. Only time will tell, I guess.
Until next time…