Sausage and Mould Cultures & Fibrous Casings

Following a reorganisation at they are now selling a range of Hansen's sausage and mould cultures, along with two sizes of fibrous casings available individually.

Pushed for Time

Given that Christmas falls on the same date each year it may be hard to believe that it always seems to creep up on me unnoticed! However, what with both Pauline and myself being none too well, along with the lousy weather we've had, preparations had got way behind schedule. Monday saw a quick run over to Joseph Morris's for some meat for curing. I can't believe how lucky we are as domestic consumers to be able to buy direct from the abattoir in relatively small amounts; most of their prices reduce significantly if you buy more than 10lb in weight. Think about it, 10lb is not a lot of meat for a family, maybe 3 or 4 joints. Buy 10lb of pork loin and you can have (say) a 3lb Sunday roast, eight pork chops or steaks and about 4lb of back bacon for about £15.

That said, my bill came to about £90! However, it would have been about £150 if I had bought the same amount of meat from the supermarket, and it would be nowhere near the same quality. You know they care when, for their Christmas beef, they have bought the Champion and Reserve Champion from the Thrapston show, the Rugby show Reserve Champion and the Market Harborough Champion & Reserve Champion.

On Tuesday we got on with curing the meat. About 8lb of back bacon, 11lb of ham and 7lb of pancetta have all gone into cure. We also boiled up some of the bones and a couple of trotters for jellied stock for pork pies, cut some meat for joints, and prepared 12lb of meat ready for mincing for sausage - this has been frozen ready to make the sausage next Thursday fresh for Christmas.

Here's a photo of me rubbing the cure into the belly for pancetta. I've cut right back on the spices for this one so that the meat can 'speak for itself'. I'll write more about it when I know how it turns out.

Pancetta being prepared

Black Ham VI - The Recipe and Calculator

The final part the story of the Black Ham, the previous post is here:
Black Ham - Part V - Cooking and the Finished Ham

Black Ham

For anyone wanting to make a similar Black Ham, this is the recipe I used. I've adapted it to use Cure #2 rather than Saltpetre as this will be what most people have and is easier to weigh. Please bear in mind the comments I made about changes to the cure in my previous post (Link above):

Important This recipe must be used in a ratio of 2 parts meat to 1 part brine. The cure below is for meat weighing 2kg. For all other weights of meat please use the calculator below. The meat should be cured for 10 days per kilo or pro-rata. This cure is not recommended for meat above 3.5kg in weight, without adaption.

Click here, there's more to read...

Black Ham V - Cooking and the Finished Ham

Continuing the story of the Black Ham, the previous post is here:
Black Ham - Part IV - Smoking

I cooked the ham on Friday, 10 days after it came out of the cure. I did it simply in my slow cooker in plain water at 80°C - the 'keep warm' setting on my cooker once it has come up to temperature. I changed the water after about 30 minutes to avoid it being salty, although with hindsight this wasn't necessary.

Black Ham

The ham was cooked until it reached an internal temperature of 75°C and then glazed with a mixture of brown sugar, French mustard and apricot jam and put into a hot oven for about 20 minutes.

Black Ham

So what of the end result? Well I was amazed by the weight loss, particularly given the small amount of skin that needed removing. The total loss was some 45% and amazingly, it actually lost weight during the brining, somewhat unusual to say the least.

The meat is drier that my normal hams, something that it has in common with the Emmetts Ham that was the starting point of this recipe. The meat is also very firm, probably due to the less than ideal smoking conditions and the combined length of smoking and drying period for, what is, a small piece of meat. I doubt that a larger piece of meat, even matured for a longer period of time, would have the same problem.

What of the taste? Well the glaze I used does absolutely nothing for it! The smoking is virtually undetectable, next time I'd either smoke it for a lot longer, or not bother at all. The outer crust of the meat, where it was unprotected by fat has very much a molasses taste with a hint of the beer, so it's obviously better done (as Emmetts do) with whole legs. That said, the rest of the meat is very nice, neither too salty nor too sweet, neither too spicy nor too bland.

The family's verdict was mixed; mum loved it, she's a real lover of drier styles of ham with good flavour, Dad was a bit non-committal, but came back for another slice, but Emma my daughter didn't like it at all.

What about next time? I'll be happy enough to stick with the same basic recipe; maybe I'll tinker with the molasses a little or replace the raw cane sugar with white granulated, or even up the spicing - maybe 10 - 20% more - I don't know, but fundamentally the recipe seems sound. What I do know is that I'll use a larger piece of meat of better quality than the cheap supermarket product I used for this - one with a good covering of fat and skin. I know I'd either smoke them for longer or in heavier smoke, or not at all; I'm not sure that it really needs the additional smoke flavour. All-in-all, given that this type of ham is not really my 'cup of tea' (I've made it 'cos mum loves this type) I'm pleased with the results.

The next part is:

Part VI - The Recipe and Calculator...

Some you win!

You know how it is, you see a bargain and can't resist. Well that's how I ended up with a 6lb frozen Pacific Salmon for £1.71 a pound. Now that, in itself, is nothing special you might say. You're probably thinking, "Well just stuff it in the freezer and use it later, don't tell us about it". Well, that's OK if you've not swapped your chest freezer for an upright one that the fish is too big to fit in to!

Pacific Salmon

Never mind, revert to plan B - defrost the salmon, fillet it and smoke it. Mmm... smoked salmon.

I have to admit that it's the first time I've handled a Pacific salmon. I made a lousy job of filleting it, noticing that the flesh isn't as firm as the Atlantic ones (although this may be partially due to it being frozen?). I salted it for a bit longer than normal to firm it up more... my second mistake.

Smoking it wasn't without it's problems either, the smoke generator kept going out - a good clean, and drying the dust in the oven, eventually sorted it out, but not until after much cursing!

It eventually got done by smoking during the daytime and bringing it in at night so that it didn't freeze.

Smoked Pacific Salmon

And the end result? Well it looks as if we'l be eating a lot of salmon páté, quiches and the like. The flesh seems to have far less oils than it's Atlantic cousin which means that it's a lot drier and doesn't slice anywhere near as well. It's also too damned salty.

...some you lose!

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