Salame di Sant’Olcese

I make a lot of fresh sausage on a regular basis, but rarely do I make a dry cured fermented sausage. That’s primarily because I do  not have a proper curing chamber that maintains a steady temperature and a high humidity level. Most amateur cooks who dabble with fermented sausages use an old fridge equipped with a humidifier for humidity. As my dear wife constantly reminds me, I already have too many hobbies and too many gadgets. So I do not think a suped-up curing fridge is in my near future. This recipe is courtesy of Jason Molinari from his great Cured Meats blog.

The idea behind making fermented sausages is not that different than making beer or even bread. You mix the meat with spices and any other flavorings, then you add a “starter” and mix well. The starter is analogous to the yeast added to wort to make beer. It’s a live culture that can be bought online from sausage making suppliers. The mixture is stuffed into casings and allowed to ferment at about 70 F. During that time the starter culture grows and in the process makes the mixture acidic. This gives the salami the characteristic tangy flavor and the acidity controls the growth of any undesirable bacteria. Nex,t the sausages need to sit in the curing chamber to dry evenly and age. Ideally they need be at 55 F or so and the humidity should be about 65%. Lacking a curing chamber, I had the sausages in my garage fridge. The temperature in there is much lower (need to keep my beer cold afterall) and I control the humidity around the sausages by using a large (2.5 gallon) plastic ziploc bag. When the sausages loose about 25-30% of their original weight, they are ready to eat.

These came out perfect, with a nice tight texture and no air pockets. The flavor was tangy and porky with not too much garlic or spice. I need to make more salami!

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