Pork 'Haslet' Luncheon Meat

Maybe it's not the time to be writing about another pork sausage, with the pork futures market in free-fall, due to the outbreak of flu in Mexico from the H1N1 virus. Commonly called swine flu, even though the link to pigs has yet to be established. The FT reports today that: "The Mexican virus appears to contain porcine, avian and human genetic components", so no more chicken either folks!

The fact is that eating properly cooked pork is not going to give you 'swine' flu, even in the very unlikely event that the meat contains the virus.

Anyway, back to the luncheon meat. It's not my recipe, but the idea of my online buddy John at the sausagemaking.org forum, however I claim ownership to at least part of it as it's based on my 'every day' sausage blend.

...and the recipe? Simplicity itself - just replace the rusk in this recipe with 155gm of breadcrumbs, and increase the water to 200gm. Add 1.5gm of marjoram, or other herbs of your choice prior to stuffing.

I poached mine in a large collagen casing for about 1½ hours at 75 - 80°C until the internal temperature was 72°C. John, I now notice, cooked his in the oven at 180°C in a fibrous casing (large collagen casings aren't suitable for oven use). The resulting sausage is a sort of mild tasting haslet:

Pork 'Haslet' Luncheon Meat

...and the verdict? Well to be honest, next time I think I'd either base it on this Lincolnshire sausage and cook it as a meatloaf, or just make the traditional haslet recipe from my 1938 copy of "Handy Guide for Pork Butchers"!

Another Half Pig

Blimey, is it that long since I last posted? Well, to be going on with, here's a photo of this week's goodies sitting nicely in my new curing fridge.

Ham, Bacon and Sausage

There's my 'everyday' sausage top left, polony sausage (top right), below them a ham and hocks in brine, then 2 pieces of loin curing for back bacon. On the bottom are two pieces of belly, dry curing for two very different pancettas. The door shelf is concealing a large 'haslet' flavour luncheon sausage.

I'll get around to posting details and recipes in due course.

The meat was from Don Hutton at Littlethorpe. For those who just want a nice bit of pork for the freezer he's doing ¼ pigs for £50. They're all cut up nicely into joints, chops etc and packed in freezer bags, the less popular bits are already made into sausage for you. All you've got to do is take it home and put it in your freezer. You get none of the bits that I insist on having like the liver, heart and cheek - it's completely pain free! Give him a ring and order one - but don't tell him he's not as good looking as me, 'cos I already do that!

Further Adventures with Ciabatta

Last year I started playing with higher hydration doughs and made a not particularly good ciabatta. At the time I didn't experiment further, so I thought I'd better give it another go. Some online research turned up some super looking recipes on Dan Lepard's Forum. Anyone planning to venture into ciabatta territory is well advised to read this thread.

I decided on my recipe, a combination of two on the first page of the thread, and made my biga (starter) on Thursday. 24 hours later I should have made the final dough but had to go to Coventry, so it was late in the day when I started. This meant that the fermentation time was shortened to about 3½ hours as against the 6 - 7 hours I had planned. Even so, I am quite pleased with the result:



Biga (starter)
75% hydration
300gm Flour
225gm Water
½ tsp Yeast (or 1 tbsp starter)


200gm Flour
150gm Water
9gm Salt (1.8%)

1. Mix Biga to develop gluten.
2. Leave at room temperature, in an oiled bowl, for 12-24 hours.
3. Break it up and add flour and 100gm of the water and mix until it starts to come together. Leave it for 20 minutes.
4. Add the other 50gm water and the salt. Mix for 10 – 15 minutes then put it into an oiled rectangular container.
5. Cover it and leave for 1 hour.
6. Tip it out and gently fold the two outside thirds over the middle third - like folding paper to put into an envelope, I use a dough scraper for this, oil your container again and return the dough to it.
7. Do this twice more with an hour’s gap in between each fold.
8. 3 – 4 hours after the last fold, tip it out onto a well-floured surface.
9. Cut and shape gently so as to retain the air.
10. Roll lightly in flour and prove for 30 minutes.
11. Slash and bake at 220°C until brown. Turn oven down to 190°C after 7 - 8 minutes. They take about 15 - 18 minutes to cook.

Next time I will use a larger container, which should give a flatter loaf.

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Hot Cross Buns

I was going to post this recipe yesterday, but the test batch I made weren't very good. Then I realised I'd picked up plain flour instead of bread flour! Also, they weren't spicy or moist enough. This is the adjusted recipe; it takes time to rise properly, being a rich dough. If you want them quicker, increase the yeast to 3 sachets. I used just currants and sultanas; the choice of fruit, or addition of mixed peel, is entirely at your discretion.

The finished Hot Cross Buns

Ingredients for 16 buns:
600g Strong bread flour
85g Caster sugar
300ml Semi-skimmed milk
1 tsp Salt
120g Butter melted
3 tsp Cinnamon
4 tsp Mixed spice
2 Eggs
2 Sachets Fast Action Dried Yeast (14g)
100g Currants
100g Sultanas
1 Grated lemon rind

For the crosses
50 Flour
55ml Water

To glaze
30g Sugar
30ml Boiling water

Soak the fruit in strong black tea or alcohol of choice for at least an hour. Melt the butter and beat the eggs.

Mix the dry ingredients together then add the drained fruit, butter, eggs and milk.

Kneed for 10 minutes in a mixer with dough hook, turn the very sticky dough out onto a well floured surface, shape it into a ball:

The sticky Hot Cross Bun Dough

...and put it into a bowl. Cover and leave it until doubled in size.

Knock all the air out of the dough and cut into 16 pieces - I do this by weight - make each piece into a smooth ball dusting with flour to stop the dough sticking, and then flatten each piece slightly. Put onto a baking tray, I use a non-stick mat; parchment would be fine, or just dust the tray lightly with flour.

The Hot Cross Bun Dough after shaping

Cover - I use a clean tea-towel - and leave to rise again until doubled in size.

Mix the flour and water for the crosses and pipe them on using a ribbon nozzle, or a plastic bag with a cut off corner.

Bake at 180°C (170°°C Fan Oven) for about 20 minutes until light brown.

The cooked Hot Cross Buns before glazing

Mix the sugar and boiling water for the glaze and brush it over the buns. Then leave to cool on a rack.

The finished Hot Cross Buns

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She Bent My Sausage!

Well I made Ham Luncheon Meat on Sunday, and what a kerfuffle! You see, you shouldn't make a sausage this size...

The Ham Luncheon Meat

...unless you've got a pan large enough to cook it in:

The Ham Luncheon Meat Cooking

Sliced thinly, no-body's the wiser:

The Ham Luncheon Meat Sliced

Personally, I'm not keen on it, but everyone else likes it. However, when pushed, they agreed that it wouldn't be their first choice but would be fine in a mixed plate of different meats. To me it was predominately garlic, too salty and with a strange after-taste. I'll certainly do something similar again though, maybe with more ham, or even use cured raw ham, and less garlic.

The recipe is by Len Poli.

Spend, Spend, Spend

It's been a week of spend, spend, spend. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining 'cos it's not been that sort of spending, you know the sort when things go wrong. No, it's been the pleasurable sort, but it still gives you funny pains in the wallet!

Some time ago a fellow forum member who lives in the US got in touch to say he was coming to the UK and was there anything I wanted bringing over? Why, you may think did he do this? Well sausagemaking supplies, not only equipment but ingredients as well, are so much easily sourced in the quantities used by non-commercial curers in the US. Obviously, we thought twice about him bringing any cures and powdered ingredients just in case UK Customs didn't see the funny side! So I settled on asking him to bring some large collagen casings (sausage skins), well very large actually, they're 90mm (3½") wide and about 680mm (27") long!

Collagen casings

It turned out that my forum pal Laurence, known as This Little Piggy has an uncle in Loughborough and was visiting him, so it was great to go in person to collect my goodies. I also got him to bring some smaller 60mm casings, hog rings, and hog pliers. What are hog rings I hear you ask? They're those metal rings that seal off the end of cooked sausage in the supermarket. The pliers make it easier to use them. In all £50's worth.

I'm going to use the casings to make luncheon meats; not the cheap and nasty stuff that we all remember as children, but bologna, mortadella and some of the ones of German origin. The first one I'm going to try is a Ham Roll Luncheon Meat from the great sausage maker Len Poli's website. I've got a piece of ham curing and will hopefully cook it on Saturday and make the sausage on Sunday.

I also ordered sausage making and curing supplies from Sausagemaking.org and Weschenfelder's. Cure from Sausagemaking cost me about £16 and casings, vacuum packs, stockinette and a mincer plate from Weschenfelders, about £80. All-in-all the week was shaping up to be an expensive one!

To cap it off, last Friday was my birthday so I used this as an excuse to treat myself. Now, the luncheon meats and the hot dogs that I make are what are not just minced, but processed with water. Commercially they're done in a machine called a bowl cutter. No, I didn't buy one of those; the smallest ones are £1-2 thousand! The nearest we can get to this at home is a powerful food processor.

Magimix Food Processor

One of the best for home use is the Magimix with it's 1100w motor. The hairy biker's review of it can be viewed here. They don't come cheap though. The top of the range one cost me £240 but, if it's anywhere near as good as the ones I've owned before, it should last for years.

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