if it looks like a duck prosciutto…

After the salami success of rigoniman, I wanted to have a go at meat preserving myself. But because I’m a bit lazy, I wanted something simpler and quicker. Also because of the risk; I didn’t want to put in effort and weeks of waiting for a dodgy result. And mind the squids too.

From the back of my brain I recalled reading about the charcutepalooza blog project, which I suspected might help me choose an entry level meat product. ELMP. I landed on duck prosciutto. How’s that for some weird imagery.

The suggested recipe by Ruhlman was heavy handed on the salt, so I went googling to find an option that didn’t mean I had to buy salt. I found a really simple one by this guy from Master Chef (whose restaurant I’ve actually been keen to visit because of his whole-beast philosophy). We  managed to have everything already in the house but the duck. The Queen Victoria Market helped with that.

Making duck prosciutto is supremely rewarding in its simplicity.

There is something lovely about cheesecloth and kitchen string.

After a handful of days and many curious squeezes, we unveiled a most impressive looking pair of duck boobs.

It looked right, it smelled right, it walked… No! It tasted right. I think. (Well, we’ve never eaten duck prosciutto before, so who knows.)

I have to be honest. I’m a little afraid if it. I only eat small portions at a time. It seemed suspiciously easy. The prosciutto smelt clean and meaty and spicy. We didn’t get sick, so that is an excellent result.

This is science though, so do your research and follow the rules! Trust the nose and be wary of any odd smells.

Balmy for Salami

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In Italy many years ago, dispatching and sorting the pig into curable meats was the job of my father’s family. The brothers would go from home to home assisting the villages in turning la porcetta into whichever salami they liked best. In our region of Veneto, located at the very top of Italy, they called it Salami Veneto. Not the most creative name I admit, but what the northern Italians lacked in creativity in name they also lacked in spice, in a good way.

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The Veneto salami is as un-enhanced as it comes, the pork has very little in the way of spices or other flavours and so the quality of pork we use must be perfect and the very freshest. This year our pig was supplied by James Mele of The Meat Room, who hosted us for the salami sessions a couple of weekends back.
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So this weekend past we set up shop Gian Carlo’s home and with knives sharpened and benches sanitised we awaited our sow. We set to butchering early Saturday morning and by that afternoon had turned a near 100kg pig into its parts there of. Minced then graded, we had various piles of meat around the room, the fat ratios are just as important as spice, Gian Carlo exclaims.
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Now days we don’t just have one style of salami, no matter how delicious it is. This year we made several including, Veneto, Calabrese cacciatore, Sopressa, Salamini and Cotechino, The first of which should be ready in four or five weeks.
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I’m not here to claim we have the best recipes and nor will I publish them, but we are certainly happy to help with advice and instruction. If you are interested in or about to start making salami or any charcuterie then fantastic, what you’re about to create will turn you off store bought small goods forever. Home made is best made. Please stay tuned for the results.
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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.