Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How-to: Salsiccias - A Cured, Spreadable Sausage.

Before I talk about what the heck this sausage is all about, I need to start with the first step of the process: Certified Pork. Certified Pork has many names and what it means is basically, through freezing, all possible Trichinae larvae that MAY be present have been killed by a thorough process. The Federal regulations on this process are pretty tedious and detailed but any and all sources will agree on a few of the principals: 

Freeze Pork in blocks that measure no thicker than 6" in any direction and freeze for:
20-30 days at 5F
10-20 days and -10F 
6-12 days at -20F. 

I used the freezer at work which maintains a pretty constant -10 degrees and kept the meat frozen for 21 days, just to be sure. At this point the Pork could be eaten raw with little or no worry!

Now, for a word on the recipe. A gentlemen I worked with in Milwaukee scribbled this recipe down for me after he brought in some of the sausage for the guys at the shop to try. This was actually the first cured meat I had ever eaten, other than bacon, and I was astounded at the dark, piquant flavor. 

Basically... the way he wrote it down was pretty spotty, so after a few different tries I feel like I've nailed down the ingredients to fit my palate. Here we go!
5#  Pork
1.5 ounces Kosher Salt
1 1/2 TBS Sugar
1 TSP Insta-Cure #2
2 TSP Black peppercorns, toasted and ground
1/2 TSP Coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1 TSP Garlic powder
1 TSP Mace, ground
1/2 TSP Cayenne.

The cayenne plays an important role aside from adding flavor, the capsaicin helps to cure the meat as well as adding to the piquant-flavor of the cure. 

Thoroughly mix all of the seasonings, making sure there are no clumps - Mace tends to clump. For those of you that are interested in this sort of thing, the seasonings have a combined weight of ~2 1/8 ounces. 

Pour about half the seasonings onto the meat, mix a little and pour the rest on. 

Reach the primary bind! In most of the recipes that I have shared with you all, temperature plays a vital role in sausage making - however, in this recipe, temperature isn't the most important factor. After tying off the links, this sausage will be hung at 60F -or less- for 48 hours to dry and cure. 

What I absolutely loved about this recipe is how fast the salt and sodium nitrate started working! Almost instantly the color of the meat started to change!

This hank (one casing) was exceptionally healthy and was able to fit all 5# with ease - I was able to finish a different batch of sausage and still had some leftover casing. 

Another aspect of this sausage that distinguishes itself from others that I have made is that the links should be tied with string at 3" intervals instead of being twisted. Notice how the color has completely changed - from the time I seasoned the meat to the time it took to link and tie was maybe 15 minutes, and the overall color and composition has entirely change. 

I hung these next to a pair of windows in my kitchen that has allowed for the temperature to stay below 60 over the course of drying these. Luckily for me, Texas has really mild winters! During the day today, the temperature started to rise a bit so I put the links in the fridge for the 'hot' part of the day. 
This was taken right around the 32 hour mark - as you can see the sausages are dry and a reddish hue is beginning to develop. This red hue is what you're going for.

Right at 48 hours after being hung, you can see the links have taken on a reddish-hue.

And believe it or not, these are meant to be eaten as-is. They're not raw, they're not cooked. It's a curing process that takes 48 hours.  This recipe ONLY works with CERTIFIED PORK, so if you're interested... plan ahead.  I'd recommend only to enjoy these as-is for two, maybe three days, otherwise you can cook them like any other sausage. If not... 
Bake them gently. These cooked at 225F for a little over an hour before I pulled them out. I temp'd them at 139, turned off the oven and let it cool. I'll wrap what I'll eat this week and freeze the rest.

I hope you've enjoyed this installment, it sure was fun making this for you (and me).

Next up will be an introduction to French Sausage Making - Boudins Blanc and Saucisses.

- Reece

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