The Salami Test

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Some six weeks back Gian Carlo and I attended Salami School. Fine tuning our charcuterie skills was the aim of the day, but Gian Carlo was certain that getting his hands dirty would bring those long lost salami secrets flooding back to him from a childhood as a junior charcutier back in Italy. The day was incredible and a real culinary sensation, James our host not only welcomed us into his home but was more than happy to share his wealth of knowledge and if that wasn’t already enough he then organised a near 100 kilogram pig for for our own salami day the following weekend.

DSC_0604Our Salami day was also a massive success and our curing room is now bursting at the rafters. But with everything we produced still curing, we still have a couple more weeks before we can try our handy work. But the salami from Salami School requires no more waiting, which is good because we are only becoming more and more impatient, also a little hungry.
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The first test was done by Gian Carlo last weekend: a success he proclaimed. The second test was done by friends at the local brewery and as the whole salami was consumed in about twenty seconds I’m claiming this as a success as well. And the final test, I call it “The Pizza Test” – Excellent!
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Salami School

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The mornings are getting colder and I’ve pretty much made the switch from beer to wine, that’s a good sign that winter is just about here. The heavy yield garden crops of the warmer months are all but gone and so now we look for something different to preserve. Around the start of winter, usually the Queen’s birthday weekend most Italian families lock themselves away and convert their garages, sheds and kitchens into home butcher workshops; it’s salami season.

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The weekend just past was something of a test run and real treat, Giancarlo and I were able to attend an amazing day of butchery, cooking, charcuterie and most importantly coffee. Hosted near Kilmore, just north of Melbourne, in a converted stone building that anyone would be happy to have in their backyard we kicked off early and with an espresso in hand, James, our host proudly led us on a tour of his home, garden and backyard butchery. WOW!

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Organised by the Home Make It crew and the Salami Board (hosts of the massively successful Melbourne Salami Festa) we were in great hands and in my opinion they really nailed it. The day consisted of meat boning lessons – a guide on how to butcher a pig, mincing, mixing and spicing – getting the texture right is just as important as the spice mix and then a guide on filling and hanging salami.

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During the day we were treated to an amazing spectacle of food, wine and hospitality by our host, true to form from any Italian, and when it was time to go we were all sent off with our own salamis to hang as well as a few kilograms of pork sausage to cook. Most of us stayed well after the course officially finished, enjoying that day’s produce cooked in our host’s wood-fired oven all the while quaffing his chianti.

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From our new friend made this weekend we have already secured our own 130kg free-range sow and are planning our own full scale weekend of butchery and curing soon, stay tuned for the result.

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Roo-Boar Sausage

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Like many Italians, my father immigrated with his family just after the second world war, they brought with them a wealth of knowledge and culinary skills that have helped to shape the flavours of food we enjoy today. But Italians have been calling Australia home since settlement and in the 1850’s gold rush came people from all over the world looking to strike it rich.

Many Swiss-Italian came to make their new home here during this time, bags bursting with dried spices, aromatic garlic and rich red wines, the flavours they loved so much. Daylesford, Victoria still holds an annual festival preserving their rich heritage. This recipe was known to the Italians  as salsiccia or sausages but it was the Australians of the day that gave this sausage, made of beef, pork, red wine and spices, its name – Bull-boar.
If you grew up in Tasmania then you will more than likely have tried or even made your own kangaroo patties, they’re much the same as a normal burger pattie but the Tasmanian kangaroo used have less of a gamey taste, a real treat if you get the chance to try them. But today I’m not making bull-boar sausages nor am I making kangaroo patties… I was recently given some freshly shot kangaroo meat from the apple isle and have opted to try a roo-pork hybrid inspired by a traditional Italian sausage recipe.
There are many variants to this recipe and I’m sure they are all good, this one’s fantastic! A great alternative to this is to cure these sausages into salami, If you are planning on this then five grams sodium nitrate per kilo of sausage filling.
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1 natural sausage casing
1kg pork shoulder minced
1kg kangaroo minced
8 cloves garlic
1 nutmeg grated
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tbs ground pimento
1 tbs cayenne peper
1 bottle of red wine (full bodied)
25g salt
20g black pepper
Combine minced meat with dry ingredients and mix by hand for at least five minutes, mix in red wine and leave to sit overnight in fridge or some place cold. At this stage of making salami of sausages I always fry some of the mixture up for a taste test, delicious! The next day fill sausages, tie them off and let hang to dry for another day before packing for freezing or eating.
sausage1The mince can also be cooked in patties but I would advise against this, I ate a considerable portion during taste tests and resulted in less sausages and a very full stomach.