File Size: 6589 KB
Print Length: 320 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Revised and Updated edition (September 3, 2013)
Publication Date: August 28, 2013
I've cured and smoked bacon twice in the past couple of months. The first time, I implemented a recipe that We found by Googling and it came out great. Everywhere I looked, though, We saw references for this guide, and how great it is, and I thought I ought to probably break down and spend the money to get " real" instructions for bacon -- alongside with anything else contained here.
Ruhlman makes a point of providing weights (in grams) for everything, which is great. Hey, precision! Thus, I got out my scale and mixed up his basic dry remedy. I read the instructions that say how much dry cure per how much pork belly, then weighed my two pieces of belly and measured away, to the gram, exactly how much cure We needed for each and every piece. We applied the cure, put the meat into bags, and put it in the refrigerator to let the salts, kosher and green, do their thing.
The first time I cured bacon, the belly produced a lot of liquefied. This time, not so much -- even after a few days. Also though I was aware that every piece of meat is different, and what was happening could be totally normal, I started to worry that We had messed something up. I went back to the recipe, read it carefully, and realized the extent to which Michael Ruhlman is all within the place.
It's almost as though he's engaging in providing sporadic curing instructions as performance art, and fancies themselves Marina Abramovic. The first thing i noticed is that he gives two recipes for dry remedy. Both use 450 grms (equivalent to one lb, he says) of kosher salt and 56 grams of pink salt. The difference is that one uses 240 grams (equivalent to 7 ounces, he says) of sugar and the other 425 grams (equivalent to 13 ounces, he says) of dextrose.
Let's first check out those conversions. That turns out that 435.00 grams is 15. 87 ounces; that's close enough to a pound that I can't imagine that it'll make any difference. Up to now, so good. The 225 grams / 7 ounces is merely this alteration cut by 50 %, so which fine too. But 425 grams is 14. 99 ounces -- which isn't very even near to the thirteen ounces which he claims. Maybe it's a typo? Maybe it's unbelievably sloppy. The recipe finishes with an estimate of yield: about 725 grams if using sugar (731 using math concepts, so that's okay) and 950 grams if using dextrose (931 using math concepts, which is less okay). The between the two recipes is 200 extra grams of dextrose. Why the 225 gram difference in yield?
More egregious is that he says to use 56 grms " of this mixture" per 2. 25 kilograms of pork. Well, which mixture? If the most important thing is the nitrite/meat proportion, you have to use different weights of the sugar cure and the dextrose cure to offer the same ratio for specific piece of meat. Does Ruhlman say which mixture? Nope.
It actually gets worse from there. In the bacon recipe, he creates that "[i]farrenheit your belly weighs between 3 and 5 pounds... it's fine to easily simplify the method by placing the belly in the Ziploc bag, adding 1/4 cup/30 grams of dried out cure [Ed: which one?? ] alongside with [spices]" and then in actually the NEXT PARAGRAPH creates: "[o]ne 3- to 5-pound... slab pork belly, skin on, Simple Dry Cure... as necessary for dredging (about 1/4 cup/50 grams). " In the space of just one paragraph, a quarter cup changes from 30 grams to 50 grams. Moreover, it says to use this amount for a stomach between 3 and 5 pounds; 5 pounds is 67% heavier than 3 pounds, which is, you know, a pretty important difference. So on one end of the instructions (30 grams / 5 pounds) he's telling us all to use 6 grams for each pound, and on the other end (50 grms / 3 pounds) it can about 17 grams for each pound. Factor in having less reference to which version of the dry remedy to use, and you could have someone " following the recipe" who utilizes 3x more nitrites on the slab of bacon than another person, also " following a recipe. "
Hello, maybe bacon is absolutely forgiving and it doesn't really make a difference. But he doesn't actually SAY that anywhere. Instead this individual gives faux-precise instructions that function as choose your own bacon adventure. And it does matter, at least according to the FDA. (Why? Since sodium nitrite inhibits botulism, which flourishes in the anaerobic environment found in, say, the smoker most likely putting your bacon into. ) The recommended level of pink salt is 1 ounce (28. thirty five grams) per 25 pounds of meat, or one 134 grams per lb. (Google " how much sodium nitrite per lb of meat". ) Ruhlman's sugar cure is 7. 66% pink salt by weight and his dextrose cure is 6. 02% pink salt by weight. If you are using his suggestion of 56 grams of remedy (let's go with the sugar cure to be generous) per five pounds of meat, that works out to 0. 857 grams of pink sodium per pound of meat -- below the FDA's recommendation. With all the other combinations... forget it, you can decipher it away, but trust that they're all messed up.
Wanna have your head explode? The small amount of Googling will lead you to a post Ruhlman made on his website in 2011, about a piece of bacon he cured, where he says to use cure comparable to 5% of the weight of the meat. So, that's twenty three grams per pound of meat -- a proportion way greater than any interpretation of what this individual wrote in his guide. And he's explicit about using the sugar remedy in the blog post, which means using 1. 76 grams of green salt per pound of meat -- well above the FDA's recommendation. Is actually absolutely maddening.
So, my bacon. After a 7 days in the cure it wasn't looking great. Not really much liquid had accumulated, still, and it we hadn't firmed up the way it was supposed to. I threw in some more salt -- not cure -- and left it in the fridge for three more days and nights. It was looking better by the time I put it on the smoker, and when I ate some I didn't die of food poisoning. So, which is best thing I can say relating to this book: it didn't get me wiped out. Maybe my expectations were too high, but We have to say that this book has been a massive disappointment. I consider ongoing to go through it and maybe look into making some of the other tested recipes, but only with a whole lot of confirmation. And, like I said, it's written in an engaging style -- but if you actually want to learn reliable information and have solid tested recipes to follow, I can in no way recommend it., Birthday present for my buddy. He has chosen up some good tips from this on smoking meats.
We looked at the library copy and may use it next year for fermenting veggies and for sauerkraut. \
We both like the explanations for why you need to use certain products and do certain techniques., We recently got thinking about sausage making and decided before jumping into a number of the methods that requiring drying out, smoking, etc, I should probably read up on it a bit, so I don't give myself botulism or something.
Lots of info with clear instructions and recipes. Also provides advice on the best equipment to use., good book... describes tech and why, good rescipes and it leaves them open for individual taste adjustment... give recommendations on equipment and crushes,,, good whole meat remedies and aging times/temps and why... just good data, This is a great book. I use it for reference frequently. It is very informative, Like a Chief cook, I wanted to broaden my horizon in this field and the tested recipes are simple and the book is simply informative., The information is uplifting and informative, although not obnoxiously so. The line images are incredibly fine, and probably a good choice given the subject. The only problem is the writing, as it can get a little difficult in spots. In the end though, it informs you all you need to know, and does it pretty much.
Edit: I forgot to note the section on gravies at the end of the book. This was an unexpected, highly useful, and nice surprise. The authors' other book, Salumi, is next on my list., Excellent simple-to-follow recipes! Take the mystery out of preserving meats and try it yourself! While some of the recipes require special equipment if you want sausages to choose out as pretty since the store-bought versions, you can easily still make do. We prefer simpler cooking; We really don't have the space to hang salami to dry, nor the patience to wait, but the Canadian bacon and used to smoke pastrami were worth the effort.
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