Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Home Cured Salami Class!

Have you ever made your own salami?  I suspect the answer is "No" for most of you, perhaps with a "you nutball" muttered under your breath at the end.  Well, after last week, I have!  And you know what?  It is so much fun it's ridiculous.  Seriously.

I took the Home Cured Salami Making class recently offered by the Institute of Urban Homesteading and it was a huge success.  Nine enthusiastic students, ranging from a seasoned sausage maker to a recovering vegan, showed up to be taught by the master.  We started with a classroom session covering the basics along with a sample of our teacher's home-cured salami: delicious!  (I conveniently parked myself on the couch next to the snacks). 

After the basics we all piled into the kitchen, broke into teams of two, and got to select our own seasonings.  That was when things really started getting fun.  My partner and I selected a mix of ground dried fennel, coriander and pepper, along with a generous helping of Aleppo pepper, garlic and a dash of red wine.  Yum!  We mixed all the seasonings into our bowl of ground pork and fat until it looked well-mixed and we were happy with the smell (we wanted to know all the seasonings were there- we ended up doubling the amount we started with).  At this point, our instructor poured each of us a wee dram of home-distilled plum brandy.  Woohoo!

Next, we all took turns at the "sausage stuffer," filling casings with our mixtures.  It's impossible to avoid making inappropriate jokes at this stage, even if you had refrained earlier.  You are literally putting a condom of casing over a tube and then cranking out salami.  One simply cannot retain one's decorum (though it might have been easier to behave before the brandy...).  Once you've filled your casing with meat, you twist it into links and then hang it up to cure.  That's it!  Though can I just say- cranking several pounds of meat through the sausage stuffer was a serious workout!  My triceps are still sore and the bruise on my palm is gonna be there for a little while yet.  Totally worth it, but don't underestimate the physical effort that's involved.

A team readies their salami for casing. 

Their first salami is already done and ready to be hung up.

Half-way through - 
one long link of salami, soon to be twisted, tied, and hung.

The teacher has a nice little room off the basement where the salami are now hanging up to cure.  It will take about three weeks and then I'll have my very own home-cured salami to enjoy.  I should get my act together and make some cheese and brew some beer... I think this will definitely call for a party!  I'll be sure to let you know how it turns out, and let you know if I take the next step and try this again on my own.  If nothing else, this class reaffirmed my appreciation for the wonderful world of charcuterie.

Curing salami... Yum!

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