Minor adventures of an old Gunks climber living in Wyoming.
Sunday, 28 March 2010
Merguez, Sausage and Chorizo making with Carlos
Carlos and I occasionally hunt together; he is a pheasant/grouse/duck fanatic and is generally obsessed with gathering wild meats. When he sees a deer or antelope or elk I can almost see the little cartoon bubbles floating up from his head with images of steaming roasts and other dishes. His regular hunting partners are named Teal and Lola; Teal is a Pointing Griffon, and Lola is an accident, a mix of Pointing Griffon and a German Wirehair that turns out to be a great bird dog.
Carlos and I made sausages and chorizo last Sunday at his house. I took a fresh loaf of no-knead bread, a bottle of Rioja and 7 pounds of elk meat. Carlos provided a large pork shoulder, back fat, spices and the fermentation agent and nitrites for the salami. While we stuffed sausages, Martha cooked us a nice linguine with shrimp and truffle oil. It certainly is more fun to undertake a sausage making project with a friend, good food and a bottle of wine (a Rioja). We made a spicy Italian sausage and a Merguez using a mixture of elk and pork. The recipes were adapted from Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn's book Charcuterie
I should have paid more attention to recipes, ratios and ingredients but that's part of the pleasure of working in someone else's kitchen, you're not in charge. You can just relax and do what you're told. As I recall, and I know that we didn't write it down anywhere but maybe Carlos remembers, we made the Merguez following the recipe except that we substituted elk for the lamb. The Italian sausage was a mixture of about 2/3 elk and 1/3 pork. The chorizo, which is cured with nitrites and salt and fermented salami is not cooked but aged for a couple of months and we made it following the recipe in Ruhlman.
This the first attempt for either of us making a dry aged fermented salami. Carlos is a real scientist, he labels himself a physiological ecologist, so I was quite content to following his lead on this somewhat more technical form of charcuterie. In my incomplete understanding, you add sodium nitrite as a preservative to prevent the growth of botulism and add a fermenting agent to get the curing process going. I don't own a copy of the Ruhlman book and now I can not recall if is it sodium nitrite, sodium nitrate or possibly a mixture of both. I really should have been paying more attention. The Chorizo recipe is one point where I understand the Ruhlman/Polcyn book contains a rather serious typo regarding the amount of fermenting agent to add. There is an explanation buried somewhere here.
On all sausage blogs there are such fine photos of the salamis hanging to cure. They often are hanging on metal racks in white tiled rooms. It turns out to be a more difficult than you might imagine to find a clean, cool, dry place to hang a salami to cure. Carlos put his in the crawlspace under his house, not as bad as it might sound, but still not a white tiled room. I hung mine in the utility room which does stay cool, but which is open to the kitchen. A few days after hanging them I discovered that the dog had uncharacteristically nipped of the bottoms of two of the links; so much for sterile conditions. Matt Wright who writes the Wrigthfood Blog has some really interesting plans for an inexpensive home curing setup.
I used some of the Merguez in a paella and it was great. Haven't tried the finished Italian links yet and we're still waiting for what's left of the chorizo age.