The Hitchhiker's Guide to Ancient Cookery

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Alexandre Lerot d'Avigné
Jeff Berry
(Number 42 in the Series, September 2009)


Every now and then, I invite folks over to muck about with food; this is the elegantly named "Alexandre's Erratic Cooking Thing." The latest installment, August 30, was a festival of pork! Specifically I wanted to make a bunch of sausage.

None of the sausages I made are specifically period in this case, although one is probably close. Really, the day was all about technique, which is applicable to sausages period and otherwise. Thus it was that Friderich and Lilie, Jaji and Sarah, and Betty Spaghetti and her brother arrived to watch me play with meat.

There were four things I wanted to make, which had expanded to five when it looked like it was going to be a party. They were as follows:

Let's begin with the Bresaola. I essentially use a recipe from "Charcuterie," by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. The book is highly recommended, since it not only gives recipes, but also gives the technique and process information behind the recipes. The Bresaola is as close to a foolproof cured meat recipe as I've found. Here's what I used: Grind all the spices, salt and sugar together and rub half over the meat. Put the meat in a plastic bag in the fridge for a week, turning every day or two. Dump the liquid out, rub the other half of the cure mix onto the meat and let sit another week, turning every day or two. Dump the liquid out, pat dry and hang to finish drying.

Careful readers will have noted "DC Curing Salt #2" in the ingredient list. Old-school readers may have noted a lack of saltpetre in the recipe. These two are related. DC (sometimes called DQ) Curing Salt #2 is salt which has had nitrites and nitrates added to it, specifically sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate. This is both handy and important. It is important because the nitrates and nitrites prevent nasty bacteria from growing, and botulism in your sausage is a bad thing. It is handy because you don't need a whole lot of either to get the job done. The proportions are something like 4% sodium nitrate, 6.75% sodium nitrite and 89.25% sodium chloride (salt). That means in the recipe above, I'm using .16 grams of nitrate and around .25 grams of nitrate, which is hard to measure effectively.

More to come!

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Alexandre Lerot d'Avigné, Jeff Berry,

Copyright Jeff Berry
Originally webbed: 9 September 2009
Last modified: 16 September 2009