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Thai smoked sausage

Thai smoked sausage recipe

I have eyed this recipe up for a couple of years now. A few years ago my good friend Marc gave me a bunch of suggestions for cookbooks. I had reached a rut in what I was cooking, and wanted an out. Marc is a total hoarder (honestly, his habit redefines the term hoarding) of cookbooks so he seemed like the logical person to turn to. Among many books he recommended that day was “Thai Food” by David Thompson. I ordered it on the spot. Authentic Thai is a long way from the heavy sweet noodle rich dishes we see in most American-Thai joints – there is a lovely balance between sour and sweet, and complex saltiness.

When the book arrived, the first page I opened the book on, quite accidentally, was the Smoked Sausage, Sai Grop recipe. Thai sausage is typically much softer than most European counterparts, mainly because of the addition of many more things other than pork and spices. This recipe has a fair amount of coconut cream, fish sauce and fresh curry paste. The texture ends up more reminiscent of a firmer blood sausage. This sausage is first marinaded, then stuffed, then smoked, then grilled to finish. It certainly isn’t a recipe to turn to when you want to knock out a batch of sausage in 30 minutes, but if you have a lazy evening with not much going on, then it will fill your time quite nicely.

I modified David Thompson’s recipe a bit. I knocked the amount of liquid down a bit, and cut the fresh chili down some. The later was a shame. It barely has any spice to it. The recipe you see below has my reduced liquid content, but the chili’s at recipes full amount. If you were to double the liquid, then you could easily stuff this in to casing “blood sausage style” – either with a piping bag with a big nozzle, or by cutting the base off a large plastic soda bottle, and using that as a stuffer. To smoke, David suggested smoking in a wok using coconut, sugar and tea leaves as fuel. Frankly I have never had much luck using sugar as a smoking fuel, so I smoked the puppies over applewood in my smoker.

Thai Smoked Sausage recipe

Thai Smoked Sausage Recipe
(adapted from Thai Food, by David Thompson)

NOTE: the original recipe didn’t call for Cure1. Personally whenever I smoke meat I add cure1, to prevent the chance of botulism.

250g (8oz) minced fatty pork (pork shoulder is good here)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon palm sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup coconut cream
2 tablespoons shredded kaffir lime leaves
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
3 feet sausage casing (I used regular hogs casings)
0.5g cure1 (available here: http://www.sausagemaker.com/11050instacureand153no18oz.aspx)

paste:
4 dried long red chillies, deseeded, soaked and drained
large pinch of salt
2 tablespoons chopped lemongrass
1 tablespoon chopped galangal
1 tablespoon chopped coriander root
1 teaspoon finely grated kaffir lime zest
3 tablespoons minced garlic
4 tablespoons chopped red shallot
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
1/2 cup ground roasted peanuts

Soak the sausage casings in cold water for at least two hours, preferably 6. Change the water a few times during soaking. If the casings aren’t soaked for long enough they run the risk of splitting during stuffing.

Make the paste by pounding it all up in a pestle and mortar. If you get bored use a food processor, but apparently the results aren’t as good. Mix the paste with the minced pork, and other ingredients. Let sit for a couple of hours in the fridge. This is a good idea before smoking sausage anyhow – smoke sticks much better to a dry piece of meat than a wet piece.

Clean the casings by running cold water through them. Pack the meat mixture into your sausage stuffer, and fit with a medium to large stuffer tube that fits well with the hogs casings. Put the casings on the stuffer tube and start cranking out the meat. As the meat nears the end of the casing, tie the casing off. Keep stuffing until all the meat is in the casing. Tie off the casing and twist into links – length is up to you, 5″ or so is fine. If you now chill the sausage uncovered for an hour or so you will find the casings dry out a bit making it easier to cut into groups of links without the twists coming undone.

Prepare your smoker to smoke at 170F. Smoke your sausages until you get an internal meat temperature of 150F. Prepare an ice bath, and put your sausages in there immediately after smoking. Once completely chilled, refrigerate.

When it comes time to serve the sausage – cook them over charcoal, or in a cast iron pan, getting a nice sear on the outside. Remember, the smoking “cooked” them so all we are doing here is adding color, crisping up the casing, and heating them through. 10 minutes should be your max cooking time.

Homemade Pastrami

Home Cured Pastrami

My wife introduced me to Pastrami a while ago. It was something I never had back in the UK. My mum would make a spiced beef round every year, which I guess is somewhat similar (only not smoked). That was as close as I ever got to Pastrami. Back Then.
Then Michael Ruhlman’s charcuterie book got me to make it. His recipe calls for wet brining the meat, then smoking. Before eating you can steam it till ridiculously tender. I have made this a few times, and it is pretty good. Me being me however, decided to do things my own way, and really like the result.

You might say this isn’t traditional pastrami. I know a lot of people would. I use my own spice mix based on flavors I like in cured meat. I dry cure it, instead of wet curing. Not because I think it is any better, but just because I find it easier. Besides I like rubbing salt in to meat. Just dumping meat into a pot of spicy water doesn’t have the same tactile experience if you ask me, and I know you didn’t.

I don’t have much to say about it really. It is easy, cheap to make, and rather tasty. It is also a rather nice way to while away a lazy afternoon by the smoker. Even if you don’t have a smoker, you could just slow roast the bloody thing in the oven, not to any detriment really. It would taste different, of course, but that isn’t a bad thing. You could smoke it in a wok for a bit if you wanted, then finish it in a low oven too, if that takes your fancy.

The whole thing starts with a nice piece of brisket. You can use other cuts here if you want, a round would be fine, but I like brisket. It gets rubbed with salt, spices, cure #1 (more on that in a minute), and then dumped in the fridge for a week. Then you smoke it, very slowly. Before serving you steam it gently to help break down the connective tissue further. Frankly I hardly ever bother. I eat it straight out the smoker. The left over chunk keeps for ages in the fridge, where you can slice very thin slices (hello meat slicer my old friend), and warm them through by steaming. I am not picky. I will just slice a bit straight out the fridge and eat it that way too. Ghetto style.

So have a go. Pastrami is the gateway meat. Next up you will be curing salami, just you see.

Homemade Pastrami Recipe

NOTE: Instacure #1: Want Botulism? No? Me neither. So use it. Instacure #1 is a mix of salt and nitrite. It is used for curing bacon, pastrami and so forth. The reason we use it is because you can make an environment devoid of oxygen in a smoker if you smoke is really thick. This can lead to the germination of botulism spores, producing the well known toxin. Lets not do that. Please do not use Instacure #2, or anything with nitrATES. They are generally not considered safe for smoked meats that are cooked. The plus side is that it is totally harmless (and some recent studies have shown nitrites as being very good for you) in the quantities shown, and gives the meat a lovely flavor and color.

cure:
Beef Brisket
salt – 2% of meat weight
instacure #1 – 0.04oz per 1lb of meat
4 juniper berries per 1lb of meat
1/2 tsp fennel seed per 1lb of meat

rub before smoking:
corriander seed – 1/2 tablespoon per 1lb of meat
black pepper corns – 1 teaspoon per 1lb of meat

Grind the juniper and fennel seed to a fine powder in a spice grinder. Mix with the remaining cure ingredients. Rub in to the brisket, place in a sealable bag and pop it in the fridge. Leave it there for 5 to 7 days. Every day, rub it through the bag, turn it over.

Remove meat from the bag, and rinse off the cure. Coarsely grind the corriander seed and pepper together, and press it in to the meat.

Preheat smoker to 225F. I like to use apple wood for smoking, but hey, use what you want. Smoke at 225F for 4-5 hours, or until internal temperature of the meat reaches 200F.

Allow to cool, then wrap and put in the fridge for a day. The next day, steam the meat for an hour before serving to make it incredibly tender. (Honestly, I hardly ever do the steaming bit, I just slice it really thin and enjoy it more like a cured meat).

gluten free flatbreads – hot pepper lonzino and mizuna

It has taken us nearly a year to perfect this gluten free flatbread dough. The “we” part is my wife and I. For the last couple of years she has had to be gluten-free and that might well never change, so we decided to try and develop a fantastic pizza and flatbread gluten free dough. A regular weekly staple for us was making pizza from the basic “wheat, no knead” recipe that seems to be on every blog these days. We changed it a bit to use a mix of white and whole grain flours, but it was essentially the same. The only problem with it was gluten.

So when Danika first had to go gluten free, this was the one thing we had to make. We started with a recipe from a gluten free baking book. Our hopes were high. We bought the 4000 different flours required, the 20 different bizzare gums that I had never heard of before, and started to mix. We let it rise, then baked it. We wanted to like it. “hey this isn’t bad” I seem to remember muttering. But we knew different. It was bloody lousy. It was also a sodding pain in arse to work with.

Click to read more about this gluten free flatbreads

the USDA approved basement..

It was about a year ago that I met David Pearlstein. He had a charcuterie blog back then, and was making some very decent looking (and tasting) product in his basement. He came over, we shared some of our cured meat (he makes the best duck proscuitto I have ever tasted) and chatted for a while about salty pig bits. Back then there was no mention of his great plans afoot.

About 6 months ago I checked his blog and saw a post on how he was converting his small home garage into a fully inspected, USDA approved meat processing facility, with the view to make awesome fresh sausage from local sustainable meats. Frankly, this didn’t surprise me much. David has spent more than a decade making fresh sausage, so it only seemed natural for him to make a business out of it. What did surprise me however was that he was going to do it legally from his garage. At the time I remember thinking that it will never work. That he would never get USDA approval for something like this. I mean, everything you hear about the USDA is that they are there to support big (BIG) business and giggle with a non-approving look at small artisan businesses.

click to read more about this meaty garage

homemade port and fennel pollen salami

If I was to get all swanky on ya, I would call this salami “finocchiona salami”, however whenever I use some authentic name I seem to get emails from twerps telling me that it isn’t in fact XYZ because of this this and this. So I am not going to.

To be a true finocchiona it should have both fennel pollen and fennel seed in. I doubt the port should be in there either. No doubt it also has to be made by a certain old man named Giovanni who lives in a hut in the back of Tuscany somewhere. You can only contact him by a secret bird call, and he will only make finocchiona salami when he has the exact breed of pig required and at the right time of year so that the one certain kind of natural mold will settle on said salami, which of course gives it is characteristic taste.

I am guessing only part of that is true..

Click to read more about making salami at home

Meat curing safety

Some of you might know that I am one of the judges for the rather large, rather viral #charcutpalooza challenge. I am in great company there I have to say, and the challenges are shaping up to be very interesting. Michael Ruhlman does a great job in his Charcuterie book to go in to some detail about the safety side of things when curing meat, but I figured I would add my thoughts on the whole safety side of things too.

When I started meat curing at home many years ago I promised my wife two things – If I thought it might dicey, I wouldn’t eat it. I would read up as much as possible on the safety of curing meats, the process and so on, so that I can guarantee my work is safe.

If done properly, with good technique, attention to detail, and the right environment curing meat is safe. Very safe. It has been done for centuries. People in the past have died from it so we don’t have to. Sounds harsh, but it is true. No need to make the mistakes that others less fortunate have. With that in mind, here is a list of safety facts that I have gathered along the way, to make sure what I do doesn’t make myself, or even worse other people sick.

(more…)

Home made blood sausage

This blood sausage sort of just happened. It wasn’t long ago when I was flicking through the River Cottage Cookbook I happened to see a blood sausage recipe or three. My first thought was “wow, I haven’t had blood sausage in ages”. My second was “yep, there was a reason for that”.

As with almost everything not all blood sausage is created equal. I remember eating some in motorway (freeway to the Yanks) greasy spoons that should never be served.. especially considering that people are then often locked in their cars with no quick access to a bathroom 30 minutes down the road..

Click to see more photos and to get this morcilla recipe

Lamb prosciutto is done!

Well folks, this stuff has been hanging a while now. It seems to have done really quite well. It even survived the great International disaster of 2010 – “the humidifier is out of water for 3 days catastrophe” which I am sure you read about in a variety of international newspapers…

About two months ago I broke down a lamb leg in to three boneless pieces, and salted them along with various herbs. Becky came over and we rolled and tied each piece up much like you do a pancetta. These were considerably harder to tie than a pancetta however given a rather uneven shape. They were then left to hang in my curing chamber, where they sat for a month, getting moldy and drying out. Because of the international disaster mentioned above, they didn’t cure as evenly as first hoped, and in fact I think one is maybe for the trash, however two came out really pretty darn well.

Click to read how to make lamb prosciutto

Home Cured Lonzino (pork loin)

This blog is fast becoming a mix of salted dried meat and vegetarian recipes by the looks of what I have posted recently – and frankly I am rather enjoying it!

This is the latest in my meat curing expedition, and whilst I have most likely only eaten 15 slices of it, I would consider it a favorite. Lonzino is a section of pork loin that has been cured then air dried. A very simple whole muscle cure that has a wonderful tenderness to it, with clean pronounced flavors, possibly thanks to the low amount of fat in each slice. It is pretty much the pork version of bresaola – the cured air dried beef eye of round that seems popular these days (especially with me!!)

click to find out more about this charcuterie, and see the lonzino recipe

Bresaola

home cured bresaola recipe

Bresaola is the salumi that got me started in to meat curing at home a couple of years ago now. Some of you might remember the story of rat cage and the thing eventually ending up in the trash. Since then I have got far more obsessive (some might say that isn’t possible), and a little more scientific with my meat curing. I have cured a lot of meat over the last couple of years, but somehow keep coming back to this simple air dried beef charcuterie.

click to see how to make this classic charcuterie and more food photos

making dry cured pork loin (lonzino) – video!

Something a little different today folks. A full on video post. Well, almost full on. I recently put a pork loin in to cure, and air dry and thought it might be rather fun to video the making of it. Turns out it was fun, and I now feel the need to inflict the video on every reader of this blog (hi Mum!).

Lonzino is really pretty simple. A section of pork loin that has cured in salt and herbs, and then is left to dry hang until ready – normally about a month. To make things far less boring, I tend to case all of my whole muscle cuts now – so you get to watch me try and force a big piece of meat into a small casing (no jokes please..). The reason to case is that it slows down the drying process, and also helps prevent the exterior of the meat drying out too much – so you get nice even dryness across a slice.

Click to see the video of me stuffing meat in to a casing!!

Making Salt Cod

There has to be something said for a recipe that combines the two big culinary focuses in my life – seafood and charcuterie (curing, preserving). Salt cod takes care of that.

Salt cod is one of those ingredients that I hardly ever use. In fact, come to think of it I have never done anything with it in my home kitchen. It is always on the menu in some form at a favorite local restaurant of mine, where it is impossible for me to have dinner there and not order something salty and fishy.

I got thinking the other day, and wondered how hard it would be to make. Turns out it is bloody easy. Easier than breathing. Well, almost. You know a dish is going to be easy when the name of it is also the full ingredient list.

Yes folks – to make salt cod you need… drum roll, no guessing now…:

salt.

cod.

BINGO! Well now, that can’t be too hard. Heck, I reckon even Sandra Lee makes stuff with more ingredients than that.

Click to see more photos, and read how to make this classic cured fish recipe

Nitrates and Nitrites

nitrates

Blame this post on some Twitter friends that assured me it would be interesting.

When you cure meat you have to learn a thing or two about ingredients that don’t come up much in regular cooking. I don’t know about you, but I never cooked much with dry milk powder, dextrose, or peculiar sections of beef intestines. I can say without a doubt that I never dealt with nitrites/nitrates before making moldy meat in my garage.

So I thought it might be kinda fun, in a food history geeky kind of way, to look at why nitrites/nitrates are used in meat curing, the effects and benefits they have, their health implications, and natural sources of nitrites. We will talk a bit about botulism poisoning too, just for giggles.

Click to read a whole heck of a lot more about nitrates

Home made, locally sourced dry cured Spanish Chorizo

When you say “Chorizo” to someone, you hear back a lot of different meanings. Here, in my second home of the USofA most people think of Mexican chorizo, when you throw out the C word. Mexican chorizo is a fresh sausage, heavily spiced that needs to be cooked. Mexican chorizo is usually made with chile peppers. and some simple herbs.

If you mention chorizo to anyone from Europe, they will most likely nod you towards Spain, and often the northern Basque region (and surrounds). Spanish chorizo is almost always dry cured, and more often fermented too (fermentation is the addition of good bacteria, to raise the acidity of the sausage, help prevent spoilage and also develop flavor). Spanish chorizo relies heavily on smoked paprika, not fresh hot chilies. This is really what gives a Spanish chorizo so much character. They can be either smoked, or just simply dry cured.

Click to read and see more about how to make Spanish chorizo at home

Home cured Coppa

how to cure coppa

When you talk to most people about cured meat, it is only a matter of time before “coppa” is talked about. Next to prosciutto, I think this certain cut is everyone’s favorite, and it is easy to see why. On a properly raised hog, you get what I consider a perfect fat-to-meat ratio for cured meat. What is more, the fat runs throughout the slice, rather than around the edge, with a few pieces of marbling. No, this fat is in the middle of the meat, providing great textural balance to the meat along with just enough of that fatty mouth feel with every bite.

Most people know coppa as a cured meat, but technically it is a certain cut of pork from the top of the shoulder. The loin of the pig ends, and the coppa begins, and wraps over the shoulder. Coppa is really a bundle of a few muscles, which are heavily used, so have a lot of flavor. Between these muscles is lovely pockets and striations of fat that gives the coppa its unique flavor and texture.

Click for more home cured coppa pictures and coppa recipe