Posts Tagged ‘Meat’

Curing in 2014 part 2

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Curing progress: this is the progress on my second batch. A pork neck, in two pieces, which is now under the house, and a beef skirt, which is now in red wine. The cuts were two weeks in cure in the fridge.

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Hanging from a beam under the house. Looks a bit sinister, but in 6-8 weeks it will be porcine bliss. The beef will join them in about 4 days.

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Kids and meat

It’s been a busy year: baby 3 was born in November so we had trouble doing much in the garden or with the chickens. I haven’t eaten a single bird that I raised all year, I think, though we have been given a few. As a consequence we have bought a few chickens from the shop.
Today, while we were shopping, I told Miss 5 about a chicken in pastry dish I’m going to make this week since we were buying the ingredients at the time. “chicken?” She asks: “can I have the heart and liver?” I explained that the ones from the shop have had them taken out already. “where do they go?” She asks. I tell her it’s probably pet food. She’s a bit crestfallen. “can you kill a chicken so that I can eat its heart and liver?” is her response.
Cut to tonight: she’s enjoying a stew I made. She comments on how soft it is: I tell her it’s because it’s made of pork neck and hock, pointing out the corresponding parts of my own body. I tell her that the hock is what makes it feel good to eat: “tendons” she says, knowingly. We go on to discuss the cuts of meat, and she pokes around my neck to feel where the pork cut comes from.
I feel like this is what cooking and eating meat is about: knowing where cuts come from, why they’re different, which are fattier, leaner, tougher, or have more tendon. And being in touch with the offal is good too. When I was a kid I was shocked when I learned that meat comes from animals. My 5 year old knows that she and I are made of it! I guess that I’ll have to start showing Mr 2 all of this soon, but it will be easier with him: I’ll have Miss 5 to help him learn.

An early start to curing

Last year’s bresaola was sufficiently successful that I was determined to get an early start to curing this year.

First to be finished is a pork belly. I did a half salt, half sugar cure with instacure #2, black pepper and garlic powder for two weeks in the fridge, changing the cure half way through. This was a cure-in-the-bag arrangement, so it started dry and became wet with the extracted moisture.

This was followed by two months under the house wrapped in muslin. The finished product was inedibly salty but a day in fresh water fixes that. I think the extra salt was probably what let me get away with curing while the temperatures were a bit too high.

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The finished product! Now that it’s winter we’re not getting any eggs from our hens, so it’s nice to have something else home made on the plate.

Note that this is not a “how to cure”. I don’t have enough experience to help someone else do this: it’s just a record of my own experiments. If you intend to cure at home, I’d recommend getting a good book or doing a lot of googling.

Finished bresaola

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The finished product! It has an even, deep color and it’s dried evenly throughout. I didn’t have any mould issues with it either.

The taste is pretty good too. I think I used too much sugar in the cure, and I might revise the spice mix for next time once I work out which aromatics I like.

The internet rightly tells you that you need a meat slicer to properly enjoy it. I don’t have one, and even with sharp knives and patience, it’s hard to get thin slices. If I keep going with curing I may have to invest in one.

Preserved meat update

Canberra will have a very warm day tomorrow, so I have shifted my curing meat from under the house to the fridge. Something about meat and 30 degree temperatures doesn’t sound good.

After I brought it in, I weighed it to check its progress:

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It’s 800g even, which is only 50g above my target weight (1.08 kg x 0.7).

I also unwrapped it to get a good look:

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It looked and smelled ok. No sign of bad mold, just a pleasant meaty smell combined with old wine.

I’ve heard that sometimes curing meat will dry unevenly, and harden on the outside while staying wet in the middle. Apparently the fix for this is re-equilibrating the moisture in a plastic bag in the fridge, so I’m taking the opportunity to do this while it’s inside, just in case.

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