Garlic and Ham Luncheon Meat

Luncheon meat is one of the best illustrations of the British relationship with food; call something Luncheon Meat and it's sold as a product in the supermarket's budget range at £3 a kilo; call it Jagdwurst, Stuttgarter, Schinkenwurst or Mortadella and it costs five times as much! We just don't value our own British products. Admittedly, the budget Luncheon Meat has a little less meat than it's fancy named counterparts, but this doesn't have to be so. If it was held in higher esteem and commanded a higher price like it's continental counterparts, this could be changed.

Fortunately, attitudes are gradually changing, and with that in mind this is my first 'prototype' of a Ham and Garlic Sausage, a clone of one that Pauline likes to buy. It's a work in progress, so although it's received favourable comments from the people that have tried it, I want to tweak the recipe before I put in online; maybe a bit more garlic and a 'paste' with more bite.

Ham and Garlic Sausage

The small air holes annoy me, but are difficult to avoid when recreating an industrial process with domestic equipment.

Making Hot-Dogs

Hot Dogs

It's a while since I've done any sausage-making, what with trying to convert a bedroom into a work-space and not feeling too good. We really need to make a trip to buy meat but in the meantime I raided the freezer to make some hot-dogs.

"Hot-dogs", you ask, "Why would you want to make horrible fast food?". Well, my dear reader, there's a vast difference between what you buy on a Friday night when the clubs close and a good home-made hot-dog in a quality bun; ask any American! They virtually have wars over there as to which style is the best!

Now, I'll not make any bones about this, the process isn't easy; there are certain rules that have to be obeyed to get a good product (and the one pictured isn't a good product - but more of that in my next post). That said, it isn't too difficult if you obey the rules. Yes, it's more time consuming than you'd think, but the result is worth it.

A word about equipment: as well as the normal sausage-making equipment that I've talked about before, you'll need a food processor - the more powerful the better. Emulsifying sausage-meat to a paste will soon take its toll on an under-powered machine.

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I sometimes wonder if someone 'up there' has got something against me? When it comes to making salami, if it can go wrong, rest assured it will! At the moment I don't have my drying-fridge fully set up as, within the next few weeks, all my fridges and equipment will be moving into the bedroom recently vacated by my eldest daughter. She's just bought her own house.

OK, that's my excuse, but the real reason is that the humidifier ran out of water because I'm a lazy basket and hadn't checked it! I lose interest easily and having tasted two of the three salami I made recently and not being too impressed with the results, I'd just left things to their own devices. I've gone from one extreme to the other; fellow sausage-makers will know what I'm talking about: when you first make them you tend the flamin' salami as though its your first baby! Now, I'm totally blasé about the whole thing; fine if your experience exceeds your knowledge - but I'm the opposite when it comes to salami: my knowledge of the subject far exceeds my experience.

"What the heck are you prattling on about?" "Shurrup, and get to the sausage!"

OK, I'll come clean! All this is a roundabout way of saying that I'm not 100% happy with the Nduja I recently made.

But, I'd better start at the beginning... see, in 2008 a US based forum member contacted me and offered to bring me supplies of sausage-making products that are difficult to find in the UK, as he was coming over to visit. When it came to arranging collection it turned out that he had family living within 20 miles of me and so we met to exchange goods and cash, albeit briefly. When he got back to the US, he wrote about having a spicy, fiery, spreadable salami when at Borough Market in London and he subsequently made his own version. Whether others jumped on his band-wagon or he accidentally climbed onto theirs, it seemed that for the next couple of months the food press was full of this fiery Calabrian spreadable salami called Nduja.

Now to cut a long story short (!??), I promised another forum member that I would make the salami when I could lay my hands on some Calabrian chillies. He kindly sent me a pot of them ready made up into a paste for the salami. However, because of one thing and another it was only a couple of months ago, some 18 months or so later, that it finally happened.

Imagine then, dear reader, my disappointment that the sausage-meat is nowhere near as spreadable as I would have liked; It's got the Oomph; it's got the heat that takes the 'top off your head'; it's got the, "I want some more, even though it hurts", sensation; it just hasn't got that soft spreadable, "This won't need butter", feel about it. It obviously needed fattier pork, and it certainly didn't need the couple of weeks drying at low humidity that, because I'm lazy, it got!

Now, before the Elephant and Castle 'Bar Council' start 'laughing their socks off', it's still perfectly usable. I'll use butter on the bread, use it as a pasta dressing or, even use it in dips and savoury butters. It's just that, of all my projects, this is the one where I wanted to be able to say: "It's perfect!"


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12 Days On

The pork that I processed on the 2nd February is now 10 days down the line. The small piece of bacon is cured and has been washed and is hanging to dry for a few days before slicing.

Bacon and salami drying

Alongside the bacon in the drying fridge are some Saucisson Sec, Salami Finocchiona and Nduja. They were fermented for 2½ days at 24°C with a relative humidity (RH) of 90 - 95% to allow the Lactic bacteria culture that I put in them to work and are now drying at around 12.5°C with a RH of between 75 and 80%.

I've only made a small quantity of each to test the recipes, in detail they are:

Saucisson Sec
A coarse ground salami based on the French Saucisson Sec with simple flavourings of black pepper with a hint of thyme and cayenne, based on the recipe for Saucisson Sec in the book Charcuterie and the one on the EGullet Forum.
Salami Finocchiona
A finer ground salami flavoured with black pepper and fennel based on the classic Italian sausage of the same name but without the wine, based on the recipe from
A spreadable salami with 20% Calabrian hot chillies. The recipe's by my mate Larbo with the chilli paste supplied by another friend who makes great salami - check out his products at his Quiet Waters Farm website.

I have a few concerns about the first two as the fat in them didn't grind cleanly (due to lack of freezer space I couldn't freeze the fat before grinding), they're also drying far more quickly than I would like. The Saucisson Sec have dried particularly quickly which I assume is due to the larger pieces of meat in the mix. I have lowered the drying fridge temperature and increased the humidity slightly to try to slow things down a little.

In a couple of days, it'll be time to prepare the Lonzino for drying. The two pieces of meat that I'm curing as Black Ham won't be ready until the end of the month at the earliest though.

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More Pork to Process

I've been up to my neck in pork for the past couple of days - that's why I've not written anything here. It's late so I can't go into all the details but here's some things that'll whet your appetite until such time as I can write about them fully.

A great loin for bacon:

Processing the pig

Getting the ingredients together for a ham:

Processing the pig

Applying cure to a Lonzino:

Processing the pig

An extra large grind of pork for Salami:

Processing the pig

This Nduja's going to be fiery. The red colour is chilli:

Processing the pig

Salame ready for drying:

Processing the Pig

Full details and the recipes will follow.

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