Saturday, June 22, 2013

Bit more tasting

Well it would be rude not to wouldn't it :)
Slicing is improving so Sunday resulted in some nicer thick cut rashers for Sunday morning breakfast.
Next to try is the unsmoked that has been air drying for a couple of weeks.
Out of the freezer came a shoulder joint to roll and roast tomorrow night so time to perfect the crackling.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Done with the Cure!

So what next?
With heaps of advice (mostly contradictory) on the internet I went for some gut feel stuff!

Decided to smoke one of the bacons, air dry/hang another and the pancetta. So this meant I needed a cold smoker. Again some more internet research and this came out as plan A. Fire in the left bin, cold smoke in the far bin. Simple :) I used some BBQ trays for the fire and then set about turning Oak into chippings mixed with some hickory chips to make the smoke. I was aiming for 24hrs continuous but could only get it to work for 3 sessions of about 8hrs. Less than suggested but I decided not to overpower the flavours 1st time out.
As expected things didn't go exactly to plan and some extra fire killed the flexi pipe so I think mark 2 will have a fixed metal chimney before the flexi hose and more vents in the fire part to get  a better draw. Anyway it's done now and ready to eat (I'll come to that in a minute).

Everything else is drying now in my homemade cages to keep the wildlife and the cats out. Will be sampling some of this shortly. Very curious to see how the pancetta tastes!
As all this was going on my 2 hams were approaching their curing time (one wet one dry). First out was the dry one, with the salt it was packed in having taken on a lot of moisture an was looking good. Following HFW's method that came out and is now wrapped in muslin and hanging in another cage. It needs 3-6 months some hopefully I'll get a nice surprise nearer Christmas though I might have to find somewhere cooler to keep hanging it.
The wet cured ham also came out and following the method was washed and wrapped. Not decided what to do with that one yet for storage or when to cook or eat it so some more planning to do.
Cidre Cured

Air Drying Ham

And now for the best bit.
The Smoked Bacon came up to the Kitchen. There were a couple of spots of mould which I removed but apart from that it's clean. A slight butchering mistake means there is still some bone in there but the clever made fairly light work of it. Sliced and into the pan for a quick cook then into my first bacon sandwich from the Pig. A very happy morning, a little salty but not bad especially for the end. Smokeyness is there but not overpowering. I recon this will be a good thing to have!! Topped with a little homemade tomatoe sauce and it was a great way to start the morning.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Pigs, Bacon, Ham and the rest

So a month after the pigs were dispatched it's time for a roundup of what's been going on.
We started here with one of the three pigs. Next task was to butcher them into manageable pieces this was helped by having 3 vets and watching this a few time

So the chopping continued and we ended the day with a car full of pig each and plenty to be going on with. We decided to leave some of the final decisions on what became what until we had a chance to think it over and see how much meat we had. So with it all bagged up we weighed in at about 45kg (not counting head and a few other bits).

So after a bit more work we had a plan, with the usual chops and joints taken out it was time to sort out how much bacon, pancetta and other bits of curing we could do and to delve into the internet and books for ideas, guides and tips.

So with the freezer full we were left with the following to do fun stuff with:
1 Whole Rear Leg
1/2 Rear Leg
2 Bacon slabs
1 Pancetta

The shopping list was forming but mostly consisted of Salt! All of the recipes were from the UK or US mainly so that lead to the fun game of translating into things that you can buy in Australia (or more importantly what they are called!) Trying to get the right kind of sugar was difficult so there was some swapping round and mixing done. Taking it as a fairly liberal approach that the recipes were more guidelines and suggestions than actual facts.
The best source of info was Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Meat & River Cottage Cook books and his Pig in a Day DVD, couple that with some annoying Americans who had some good methods but really offputting vids online. Using my new found knowledge I set about combining ideas scribbling notes and making a couple of spreadsheets to try and get the right amount of cure onto the different parts.

Bacon turned out to be the easiest with a dry cure of Salt & Brown Sugar with various herbs added. The Pancetta was again simple with a more slat based cure. The only beg decision was regarding Saltpeter ( -Major uses of potassium nitrate are in fertilizers, food additiverocket propellants and fireworks; it is one of the constituents of gunpowder.) The 2 viewpoints were it's essential or you pill poinson yourself & die and no need you can poinson yourself with it..... I opted for running out of time not finding any and not using any. This may prove to be a mistake but we will have to wait and see.

Next came the legs, the whole leg was destined to be an air dried version of Prosciutto, based on tips from HFW. I had to find something to cure it in with a lot of salt, but in a way that would be efficient in the use of salt. I decided to build something from wood which presented me the challenge of my limited woodworking skills :) the other challenge was keeping metal such as nails away from the salt to avoid rust.
This is my solution, the idea is that it can be reused and reshaped if needed for other curing duties, once the leg and salt were added the finished contraption looked like this
This was hidden away for a few weeks with some bags of salt on the top to press down.
The final job was the wet cured 1/2 leg. This used another of HFW's recipes with a cider, sugar, salt & syrup based cure. this was all popped in a large plastic bucket and hidden away for the required time.

So with everything either frozen or curing there was only time to sample one thing