Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spicy Coppa - From Package to Cure

So I finally got a Tails and Trotter Coppa last weekend at the Portland Farmers Market this weekend.  I'm actually very lucky.. Most of the Coppa's are being sent to restaurants, but since Morgan ( the proprietor )and I are now Facebook buddies, I put a request in, and it was waiting for me when I stopped by to say hi Saturday.

Look at this thing!!! Almost 8 pounds of porky-backfatty goodness!!! 

Morgan said that since he knew I wanted to cure the Coppa, he left the backfat on for me in case I wanted to take a shot at curing Lardo.   It's not the 4" thick Mangalitsa Lardo I was saving myself for, but who am I to say no to free backfat? Of course I'll take the challenge.
Stay tuned for a future post that details my experiences with my first lardo.

The first thing I did after putting my daughter in front of the tv with chocolate milk for dinner ( mom was at sushi ), was to separate the coppa from the lardo.   This was pretty easy, and while I'm sure the butchers among you will say I mangled it, I think it looks pretty good.

As you can see, it's a beautiful piece of meat ( that's what she said ), and the backfat is nice and thick, probably about an inch and a half.   The pig breed is Berkshire.

Next up.. the Cure. ( not the weepy eyeliner kind that JDub loves so much, but the salt and spices needed to turn this hunk of raw pork into beautifully cured dried meaty goodness ). This time, instead of measuring the cure, I decided to try a combo of recipe/Salt Box Style ( described in Ruhlman's Charcuterie book ). Basically, "salt boxing" means making a big batch of 'cure' recipe, tweaking it with spices to your liking, then taking your item to be cured and dredging it really well in the cure, rubbing it in until it's worked into all the nooks and crannies. 

Here's the Recipe:
6.5lbs Coppa
3/4 cup kosher salt
2.5 tbsp sugar
1tsp cure #2
1tbsp black pepper
1tbsp cayenne pepper
1tbsp red pepper flakes
1tbsp Chile de Arbol powder
1tbsp Annatto Chile powder
1tbsp dried garlic powder.

As you can see, it looks an awful lot like my "Lonzino Da Diavalo".  I think You and I are going to find that the "base cure" recipe will work for almost anything we make, with some tweaking to our individual tastes.

I placed the coppa in a large nonreactive plastic container, put the lid on it, and wrote myself a note to check on it in 9 days.  At that time, I'll drain off any of the liquid that has been released, and rub it down with the remaining cure mix, and leave it for another 9 or so days ( until it "feels cured". ).

Stay tuned.. I have a feeling this is going to be a good one.. ready just in time for prime deck weather.

PS.. I ordered tshirts and they should be in next week... depending on how they look, I'll then be looking for a tshirt printer and e-storefront so all of you guys can get your PCP tshirts, thongs, codpieces, helmets, etc.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Lamb Proscuitto - update from the "curing chamber" - Week 3( plus lonzino, bacon, and tshirts )

So we're ending week three of our 4-6 week first attempt to create Lamb Proscuitto.

I originally hung my two LP's ( Lamb Proscuittos ) in my "curing chamber" which is a dorm size fridge with temp controlled by a petsmart reptile cage temp control, and humidity kept close to 70% RH with a supersaturated salt solution in a tupperwear pan at the bottom.

As we discussed in my previous post, the first leg began showing spots of white fuzzy (not quite furry ) mold and the surface became sort of "tacky" .. not sticky, but a little bit "gooey". 

Jason at the Cured Meats Blog thought that it was just proteins coming to the surface of the meat, as a normal component of the meat shedding water, but I didn't have a good feeling about it and didn't want to throw $50 bucks out the window on my first LP, so I gave it a mild vinegar rubdown per Jason's instructions and then hung all my meat ( insert drum beat ) in the man cave.. which averages 62 degrees or so, with about 60-80% RH, depending on the weather outside ( and it's pouring.. )

Both legs are firming up great, as is my new Lonzino Da Diavalo.   I estimate my leg will be ready in 2-3 weeks, with Paul H's leg ready 2 weeks or 3 behind mine.

The lonzino is looking great, although it developed white and green mold spots while in the fridge, er curing chamber.  Since I washed it and hung it next to the LP's, it hasn't seen any more furry mold of any color, and has started developing that magical white mold that all great Salume develop.

Stay tuned.. we're getting closer to tasting.

Tomorrow, I'm going to meet Morgan Brownlow of Tails and Trotters at the Portland Farmers Market for a hazelnut finished coppa.  I'll be making (hopefully) a freaking awesome Capicolla from it.    If that coppa tastes anything like the pork hangar steak (who even knew pigs have a hangar steak .. see pic below) he sold me last week, I'll be in pig heaven.

I make bacon pretty often, and it's ridiculously good ( not my words.. check out the best wine blog ever Sip With Me ).  Special thanks to John Pence for teaching me the basic recipe over a year ago.. and special kudos to JDub, for "loaning" me his smoker for the last year :)

I'm finally going to get off my butt and order some tshirts this weekend.  Since I just want to test the concept, I'm going to order them from, and they're a bit expensive at $25 each, so I won't be handing them out like pickles.  I will however, give a few to those people who have inspired me and supported my efforts to improve the world ( and SE 20th ave ) through a little charcuterie.
If the tshirts prove popular, I'll find a local producer or some kind of pass through storefront to sell them on here.. when and if that happens, feel free to buy them, knowing your purchase will support me and my love of pork products and alcohol. ( oh, and my little girl )

Cheers... have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lonzino Da Diavalo -Heading into the Curing Chamber

The Lonzino Da Diavalo that I started curing on March 4th, was feeling "cured" on March 15th, so I pulled it out of the bag, gave it a really good rinse, and was going to apply another liberal coat of the hot spices I applied previously, but then took a good whiff, and realized that all of those spices had permeated the meat so well, I didn't need to reapply. In addition to having that "sort of hard" feeling, it's taken on the deep reds/oranges of the spices. 

I then stuffed it into a 100mm collagen casing ( it's easy to pick up on the way home, so spare me the lectures on natural casings ), then tied it up, poked a few holes for air and liquid to escape and hung it in the curing chamber for 2-3 weeks.

As you can see, it's a beauty, and as long as nothing too crazy happens to it in the curing chamber, this is going to be one freaking tasting spicy lonzino. ( Yes, I'll bring some into work ).  I'm just hoping it's not too salty since I kept it in the cure for 2 or 3 days longer than the recipe called for. ( although anonymous follower Paul H will eat anything that's salty, so it won't go to waste ).

Into the curing chamber, where it will hopefully pick up some of that white mold from the lamb proscuitto and add that 'salami' taste to it.   curing chamber is approx 55-60 F, with a Residual Humidity (RH ) of approx 70%, obtained by using a super saturated salt solution.

Lamb Proscuitto - Update from the curing chamber ( end of 2nd week )

I just wanted to give a quick update on my whole leg of lamb I'm ( hopefully ) turning into Proscuitto

Around March 10th, I noticed some white mold growing on the leg, so I consulted Jason from, and confirmed what I thought.. it's ok to leave it or wipe it off, so I watched it for a few days, then on March 15th, wiped it off with a clean cloth soaked in a mild vinegar solution ( the acid helps in preventing additional bacteria from growing ).

Here's a pic of the leg after 2 weeks in the "curing chamber" ( otherwise known as a dorm fridge purchased off of Craigslist for $50. )

 The first pic shows the mold when I first noticed it.. (notice the mold on the left side, about 2 or 3 inches below the hook )

Now look at it 4 days later ( more pronounced mold ).   This is when I wiped it down with a mild vinegar solution ).   It feels a little "tacky" and kind of sticky, for want of a better word.   I'm sure it's because of the high humidity and I'm tempted to just hang it in the mancave like we did with our pork proscuitto, but I'm going to hold on and follow the instructions ( the pork proscuitto did have a very hard skin on the outside, and maybe this one won't ).

My estimate is that the leg has probably lost about 5% or so in water weight.  I'm going for 30% or so, and about 30-45 days, so I won't even bother weighing it for another 3 or 4 weeks.

The second lamb leg was still not feeling "cured" so drained off all the liquid, and rubbed it down in salt and cayenne pepper ... in the 3 days since, it's really shedding liquid and I'll be pulling it out to hang in 2 days.

Stay tuned for more exciting lamb proscuitto updates.

PCP Logo.. You've been waiting for it, now it's here!!

Ok.. I'm a dork, but with all the great blogs I've been reading, I've realized that I can't find true Charcuterie Happiness without having my own Logo ( which I will now plaster on all sorts of merchandise you can buy, starting with tshirts ).

Observe and be amazed.
Oh.. by the way, this logo is copywritten 2010, for exclusive use by the Portland Charcuterie Project.  It may not be copied, distributed, or altered in any way ( palmer ) without my express permission.

I'm looking at tshirt designs now and should have a link where you can buy one if you'd like, up within a week or so.  Regardless of whether you like my blog.. there's something cool about a pig riding a bike with one of his legs cured and turned into proscuitto in the basket. ( or maybe it's just me ).


Monday, March 15, 2010

A bit about me

So I thought I'd take a minute to tell you a bit about me, so all my faithful readers can know and love me, like my friends do.

Since moving from Philly to Portland almost 8 years ago, I've really gotten more aware of where our food comes from, and even more interested in making my own.   I'm fanatical about my new hobbies of curing meat, pickling, drinking great wine, and generally living the sweet life on 20th Ave.

This is me.. Timberline at Mt. Hood.. catching some air on my 40th bday this past Jan ( I know it doesn't look like a lot of air, but my friend Jdub caught me coming down from what was a pretty sick jump for an old man)
This is my Wife, Amy, my Daughter, Ella and I. ( Wildlife Safari in Roseburg, OR Aug 2009.)

This my raison d'etre.. my little nugget, Ella.   She's almost 4, and tons of fun.  This year she started skiing, and it's all downhill from here ( insert drum beat ).

This is the Chocolate Bacon Love Cake my good friend and neighbor Caprial made for me ( I think John helped a little too ). All I can say is "Wow"

Here is my urban farm. I converted half my front yard into 4 raised bed containers, and have been growing quite a bit of produce year round.  Most of the produce is either eaten immediately, shared with my great neighbors, or pickled.    I'll be discussing Pickling in more detail in the future, but for now I just wanted to show you where the great pickles you may have heard about ( or tasted ) come from.

The next photo shows the infamous "Wall of Pickles".   This is an old French wine cupboard that is now used to hold my treasure trove of pickled goodness.  Typically, I make blueberry/rasperry preserves, balsamic onion Jam, Hot ( and not so hot ) kosher dill pickles, pickled beets, salsas, chutney, italian style tomatoes.. and something new this year "Garden Mix" - Basically, I pick from the garden, and whatever is ripe, get's pickled ( beets, radishes, cukes, squash, zuchini, eggplant, beans ).. it's really good and recieves rave reviews.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lonzino Da Diavolo

My first Lonzino was such a hit with my wife and friends that I'm going to make it a regular in the rotation ( and alway try to have one ready, or close to ready ).

Whole pork loin is relatively inexpensive... I got this 6 pounder at QFC for 6 bucks on sale. 

Now if you know me, you know that I prefer to buy my meat from a farmer who has raised the pig humanely and healthily(is that even a word ? ).  But, I happened to see it on sale and thought of a post I saw on Jason's Cured Meats blog Lonzino recipe, and thought "what the heck?".  Now, after a getting such good kudos, I'm going to try again.

On March 2nd, I started my newest creation, Lonzino Da Diavolo ( my apologies to my readers who actually speak italian )

This one is going to be spicy.. I'm talking SPICY...  ( sorry Harry.. there's always bacon ).  You'll notice that I left the fat cap on it.. turns out that stuff tastest pretty darn good when it's cured.

I took the rest of the blue light special pork loin ( 3lbs ) and applied this cure to it. ( slightly tweaked the basic recipe after starting to read Ruhlman's Charcuterie book and learning a bit more about ratios.

3 Tbsp salt
1/3 tsp Cure # 2
1 tsp Black Pepper
2 Tbsp Cayenne
2 Tbsp dried Annatto pepper
2 Tbsp dried Chile de Arbol
1 Tbsp Red Pepper Flakes

I took the entire amount and rubbed it into the loin for about 1 or 2 minutes, really making sure it had permeated every possible bit of surface area. 

I then placed it in a gallon size ziploc baggie ( I would normally use a reusable container, but my man fridge is a bit full of lamb and beer.)  I poured the rest of the spice mix in there and packed it on to the lonzino the best I could, with the rest of it sitting on the bottom of the bag.

Today ( March 4th ), I checked out the Lonzino when I got home tonight and noticed that quite a bit of liquid ( looks like 4-6 oz's ) has already come out of the lonzino.    My plan is to keep it in the bag for a total of 10 days or so, then hang in the curing chamber for 2-3 weeks.

Stay tuned.. my next post about this topic will include "how to tell when your meat is done with the dry cure and ready to hang", as well as a discussion about "curing chambers" ( Sometimes known as an old fridge, unfinished basement, garage, or man cave.).

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lamb Proscuitto

Something I've always loved, but don't often see in stores, is Lamb Proscuitto.

What's not to love? Lamb and Proscuitto, all in one.

So about a month ago, I decided to give it a go.

I'm going to give you the specifics and then attach a few pics.

I'm doing 2 legs now, One for me, and one for a fan of PCP, who we'll give the secret name Paul H.

On Jan 28, 2010, I started with an Anderson Farms whole lamb leg. ( 6.5lbs )... it's a beauty and almost went into JDubs Traeger.

Cure Mix:
9 TBSP Kosher Salt
6 TBSP Sugar
1 TSP Cure #2
1 TSP Black Pepper
1 TSP Cayenne Pepper
2 TBSP chopped fresh Rosemary
I split the cure into 2 halves, and then applied one half to the leg, placed it in a tupperware container and
then put in my "man fridge" to cure

On Feb 15, 2010 I drained the liquid in the container,  took the remaining half and applied it to the leg.

On March 2nd, 2010 I pulled the leg out, rinsed it well, then hung it in my curing chamber ( approx 55degrees F, 70% Humidity ) for 30-45 days to finish.  I'll expect it to lose about 30% of it's weight before it's fnished. 

Stay tuned for our next post, when I'll provide an update, and hopefully a taste test with some great Oregon Pinot Noir.