What a week!

It's been a funny old week; we're having the bathroom refurbished so it's been plumbers, tilers et al.

Added to this mayhem, Don "had a pig 'coming back' on Monday, so did I want half?" Well it's true that we are about out of piggylicious delicacies, so I accepted. Of course I should have realised that it probably wasn't the best timing; plumbers tend to require the water turned off on a regular basis!

No photos I'm afraid, it's hard enough for me to do the necessary without taking pictures. My left hand isn't as strong as it should be, so skinning the meat and fat for sausage is a particularly difficult and sometimes painful job.

I made the brine for the ham and hocks on Monday morning, the curing salt was added just before use as it reacts very quickly. I injected the meat with 10% of its weight in brine cure - purists will scoff at this method but in my experience the result is no different to just immersing the meat in the brine - I don't of course use the chemicals that are often used commercially to hold water in the meat - so it absorbs no more than it would by soaking naturally.

Next was the loin, dry cured in two pieces, one for smoking and one for 'green' bacon. The belly wasn't very thick, so one piece was kept for eating and the other made into pancetta. The rolled collar, minus its fat and skin was put into dry cure to be made into Coppa (or Capicola), an Italian air-dried meat. Unfortunately, I made a big hole in one of the layers of meat when taking the fat off, so it'll be slightly lacking in the diameter department. Oh OK, keep it simple; it ain't goin' to be as fat as it should be.

So far so good, now we come to the sausage. I keep promising my chutney crunching nephew, Mickey, some chorizo, and 'cos he's bigger and stronger than me, and 'an all around good egg' - coming to tinker with my smoker every-time I change my mind as to what design will work best - I thought I'd better make some. The rest of the meat was going to be made in to two or three different types of sausage, but as I had used the collar for Coppa there wasn't enough meat, so I stuck to just my 'signature sausage'; the newly renamed, 'Thurlaston Sausage'.

All went well until we stuffed them; the sheep's casings for the Thurlaston sausage had more holes than a tramps vest! So now I've got to find something to do with the 2 kg of sausage meat that didn't get stuffed. I can feel some Scotch eggs coming on.

Well that's the sausage done, but what of the chorizo? Now, a quick lesson in stating the obvious; for the normal horseshoe shape chorizo in the supermarket you don't start of with a casing that size; it needs to be a lot bigger as the casing shrinks as the sausage dries, losing up to 40% of its weight, and of course reducing in diameter. So I buy 'extra wide' hogs/pigs casings, they start off at about 40 mm. Wrong, the last batch I bought must have got swapped with something else; if I'd used them, the chorizo would have ended up like those Peperami snack-sticks you get in the supermarket. On to plan B then; the chorizo are now fermenting in 60 mm collagen casings; somewhat annoying, as I like a traditional look to my chorizo; not chorizo that looks as if it's come from a massive factory. It'll also take a lot longer to dry which means that Mickey'll have to wait just that little bit longer.

As for the offal, I decided to make the lot into Pâté and added a small amount of cure and vitamin C to preserve the colour. Pauline's just tasted it and says it's bloomin' awful; fortunately others haven't got her fine tuned taste buds (honed by years of smoking roll-ups), and like it!

I'm going into hiding now 'cos when she reads this she'll kill me! In the meantime, I love this uniquely Italian answer to the credit crunch; it's the thought of British banks doing the same thing and ending up with freezers full of ready-meals that amuses me!

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