FYI: tons of pics and text, so please be patient when opening this thread, as it's a MAGNUM Q-VIEW.
Hey sausage lovers! I put this together for those who may be ill-equipped to make sausage, but like the idea of making their own,
such as myself, as well as those experienced in similar types of sausage and methods who may be wanting to try something a bit different. In escense, today will be an experimental method of drying/smoking, as I further explore the possibilities of heat-treament methods for semi-dried unstuffed sausages. So, get ready...it's gonna be a wild and crrrrraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazzzzy ride!
If you can read this entire post in one sitting, either you're a speed-reader, or you're just dying to find out where this is all going...all you hard-core die-hard smokers know what I'm talking about. Take your time, bookmark it, whatever...it's a looooooooooooong bit of reading from an even longer bit of writing and recording info, so don't feel bad if gotta come back to it another week...LOL!!!
For those of you who are familiar with my posts, it goes without saying, but for the newcomers, I'll say it up front and out in the open: MAJOR DROOL FACTOR CONTAINED IN THIS THREAD, SO BEWARE OF COMPUTER KEYBOARDS WHEN YOU MISS WIPING YOUR CHIN!!!!!
PREFACE AND HISTORY OF THIS RECIPE AND METHOD:
This is relatively easy to make with minimal equipment and materials. It is recomended to have temp verified digital probe(s) on hand for the drying/smoking. Last summer, I brought some of this original recipe along to our family reunion with many other cured/smoked goodies, and this batch is a part of what I'm bringing along for another gathering coming up soon. Not to sound like I'm pumping you up, but everyone who's had this likes it. It's a very mild and unique flavor, and using previous methods, the texture was very good. I intend to take the texture a step further with a change in meat/fat preperation, and a semi-dried process.
My previous experience and research has prompted me to kick things up a bit with my methods while I seek an even better finished product, and today, I get another chance to follow-up on everything I've learned so far.
Note: for those who have not acquired a meat grinder and would still like to try this recipe, here are links to my previous alternative methods for preparing the meat and fat with a food processor going back to the original conception of two different recipes...I didn't get pics of the actual meat processing with these, but various discussions came up along the way...these recipes are also very easy:
A few of my latest beef salami smokes, for purposes determining similarities, if you wish:
Any of the above recipes would be a good start for a dried sausage by following the drying/smoking methods discussed below, as the drying/smoking methods are where the main changes take place.
I've only recently became seriously interested in drying my sausages, so I've spent quite a bit of my free time researching different methods. What I'm attempting for this batch is about the farthest I can take a cured/dried sausage with the equipment and additives I have (not alot), which exclude the following: cure #2, sausage mixer/stuffer/casings, accurate refrigeration and humidity climate controls, water activity/pH meters, beneficial molds or mold retardants, cure accelerators, and lactic starter culture....yea, to the new guy, there's a ton you could aquire, and I'm not ready to go that far just yet.
Today, I will be working with meat and fat which have been processed with different equipment, so the resulting texture of the meat mix prior to curing will likely be different than I am accustomed to, so I'll have to play the game by a new set of rules, so to speak, and determine the best approach in forming the sausage loaf while wrapping during prep for curing. I have found that it is best to leave the cured meat undisturbed once formed into a loaf, therfore, I allow the curing after forming to avoid breaking down the bonds in the meat which could cause undesirable characteristics in the finished product's texture, such as internal fracturing of the meat. It is also easier to form the meat prior to curing due to it becoming a stiffer consistency after curing is completed, causing multiple loaf forming issues, including kneading out air pockets.
I have modified my original recipe to per-pound measures for ease of calculating for different batch weights in smaller amounts, as it seems most often to be a spur-of-the-moment gig when toss together a chicken sausage batch. I usually have a 4-6lb package of frozen thighs thawing for a couple days in the fridge, and once trimmed, re-chilled and chopped/ground, then it's time for weights so I can get the formulation worked up. It is highly recommended to use an accurate scale to measure your total weights of meat and fat before mixing when using a curing agent, and in the case of formulation when mixing added fats to meats, as the outcome of the final product will depend on accurate weights. Weights are something you don't want to guess with when using a cure as health problems could be the result. I now have a 30lb capacity digital postal scale with weights to 1/10 oz incriments, and accuracy of +/- 2/10 oz with minimum object weights of 2/10 oz as well, so it's a fairly decent scale to work with.
The following recipe starts with approx 17% fat content, and the yeild will contain much less at about 8-10%, so for those watching their fat intake, this is a good sausage for you. I think most of us have at some point eaten the reduced fat and low fat store-bought sausages...this is nothing like the flavor or texture you would expect to find with those sausages.
Let's get started, shall we?
SWEET RED CHICKEN SALAMI
***all measures are per pound of meat/fat before mixing with seasonings/water/cure additive***
13.25 oz lean trimmed and cubed chicken thigh meat, grind through 3/8"/10mm plate
2.75 oz beef fat, grind through 3/16"4.5mm plate (I use beef brisket trimmed fat for the flavor profile...sub with pork fat if desired)
1 Tbls ground red bell pepper
1 tsp ground garlic
1 tsp ground black peppercorn
1 tsp ground sweet basil leaves
1/2 tsp ground oregano
1 tsp ground onion
1/2 Tbls Morton's Tender Quick
2 oz cold water
Mix all dry ingredients into cold water and thoroughly mix into ground meat/fat (I prefer latex or nitrile gloved hands) until the
salt begins to develop the proteins and bond the mix together. It will start to feel sticky at this point. Mixing any longer could
eventually break-down the development of the meat proteins and the resulting texture will not be as desirable, and a crumbly sausage could be the result due to the reduced fat content. I mixed this batch with a tumbling method instead of kneading and squeezing, as it was wet and loose enough to work easily, and I also did not want to break-down the coarseness of the meat grind, which would effect the overall texture and chew of the finished product. Using a food processor to chop the meat and crumb the fat worked OK, but being able to run a true coarse grind should greatly improve the final product, and offer more flexibility for adjustments in procedures and future recipes. Also, after completing the meat mix and curing, having time to think back on my previous recipe, the meat from the the food processor seemed to be more of a coarse string than anything else. It did seem much more difficult to get a uniform mix than what I ground for today's sausage.
***If a higher fat content were used, say 30-35%, the meat mixing aspect would be more forgiving, and the possibility of a crumbly sausage would be reduced, however, the idea behind staying with the ~17% fat content from my original recipe is for health-related reasons. I pushed the envelop a few times to get this ratio as low as I could (12% was bad...15% close to OK, 17% minimum for good product) for the original recipe without having a crumbly product, so I'm staying with it. Also, if breast meat were substituted for dark meat, a higher fat roatio may be need as well, which defeats the purpose.***
Wrap in plastic wrap formed into the desired diameter/length of loaf, (approx 2-1/2" diameter for the 2lb today) and refigerate for
a minimum of 18 hours to cure and set the meat. Disturb the curing and/or post-cured loaves as little as possible for best retention of shape. The loaf will flatten out somewhat while curing, but I don't like to reshape the loaves, as it tends to break some the bonds formed in the meat during curing.
Pre-dried/smoked weight of todays subjects: 2 - 2lb (+/- 0.2 oz), 1 - 1lb (+/- 0.2 oz)
DRYING AND SMOKING METHOD:
This is a modified version of a heated/forced drying and smoking:
0-2 hours: Place cured sausage loaf(s) onto cold smoker food grate and fire (or set thermostat) @ ~125* with a wet water pan underneath to keep a somewhat higher humidity to keep the meat surface porous allowing water evaporation from the meat;
2-4 hours: increase chamber temp to ~150*, maintain smoke and a wet pan, ;
4-6 hours: insert temp probes into sausage and periodically monitor internal meat temps, maintain at least 150* chamber temp while slowly bring up to 160-170* as indicated by I/T readings of sausage, maintain wet pan and smoke;
6(+) hours: increase chamber temp to 160-180* (if needed) to a reach internal temp(s) of 130-140*, then decrease chamber temps to 150-160* to hold internal temps for several hours. I give a broad temp range here, as each smoker type, fuel type, manufacturer and specific model, modifications (or lack there of), and your local ambient conditions (temp, wind, precipitation, relative humidity), meat stall-temps/times (to mention just a few) will all factor into how the smoker will need to be operated for this method, as it would in any other smoking scenerio. This is the stage of the heated forced-drying which will have the largest impact, so the longer the temps are held, the dryer the finished product will be...dryer having the most chew and firmest slice. The holding temperature is important as well...if held at or near finished temps for long periods, over-cooking will result, and this can cause an adverse effect on the finished product, creating a softer texture, and at some point, becoming mushy, hence the reduce holding temp prior to reaching finished temp.
I'm shooting for a minimum of 5 hours in the 130-140* internal temp range on for this batch run.
Final cooking: increase chamber temp to 170-180* to reach a minimum internal temp of 165*, maintain wet pan for a softer crust, if desired, and maintain smoke to 140-145* (or higher) internal temp, if desired.
Remove loaded grate(s) from smoker (or place loaf(s) onto an accesory grate) when finished temps are achieved and rest on a suitable drip pan.
Pat off exterior fat with paper towels within a few minutes of removal from smoker, and continue resting on open grate with drip pan underneath at room temp for 60 minutes to allow more water vapor to escape the meat and begin cooling. Wrap and place in freezer for at least 2 hours to quick-chill (my freezer is -20*F), turning over the loaf every 30-45 minutes for more thorough chilling. Unwrap, slice, and vac-seal and refrigerate/freeze whole or as cut-down loaves for smaller portions to slice by hand at a later date.
***Note: storage of un-sliced meats is more beneficial towards longer, spoil-free keeping while in refrigeration. Less (or lack of) cuts translates to less chance for contamination post-smoke, and less surface area at risk for exposure to contamination during storage. It's all about keeping your expense, time and work protected from start to finish, so you can safely reap the benefits of all your effort.
INTERNAL TEMP LOG AND OTHER RELATIVE CONDITIONS (the heart & soul of this project...minus the pics, of course)
I wanted as detailed info as humanly possible on this smoke, so I can make any adjustments I may want in the future, or try to follow the same general guidelines to replicate this endevour if it turns out how I want. This can also be used to identify the possibility of any trends with the smoker, size/weight of individual loafs and their respective temp profiles, and a good base-line run to follow in the future. Of course, it will be helpful for anyone else to follow along if they wish to have their own crack at this, as it is not what I would consider to be a traditional drying method by any means, and I'm going to extreme measures for a heat-treatment to achieve a semi-dried salami here by using internal meat temps/times instead smoke chamber temps/times.
R/H = Relative Humidity (ambient) in percent, last observed reading from a nearby weather sensing station with hourly updates posted to NOAA's website.
A/T = Ambient Temperature as observed locally from a remote sensor under my covered deck approx 15 ft from the smoker.
ADDITIONAL PERTINENT INFORMATION:
Winds were light and variable throughout the smoke...beautiful weather for another experimental smoke. I did find that my smoker position in my outdoor kitchen was not optimal for this project. I moved it towards the front of my kitchen a couple weeks ago where it was more exposed, and at about the 6th hour, it was getting out of full-shade. By the 8th hour, it was full sun on the rear, 50% of the L/H side, and 80% of the top of the cabinet, so this created some temp control issues at mid-smoke...I should have moved the Vault back to where I've had it for almost 2 years......today's project would much have been much easier to accomplish if I had moved it. Oh, I also employed the temporary open-door method to reduce average chamber temps from time to time. Trying to predict what the smoker will do next, and how it will effect the internal meat temps was probably my biggest challenge today...an electric heated rig may be the best choice just for these reasons, but that would be too easy for me...LOL!!! I will say this: a solid-fuel fired smoker would not top my list of choices for this project.
(I/T's are Right/Center/Left, with 2lb, 1lb, 2lb loaves)
Hours R/H A/T Internal Temps Smoke Chamber Temp
4.5 38 57 118 / 125 / 126 ~150 (adjusted smoke chamber configuration for a bit more air intake to the R/H side)
5.0 38 59 129 / 134 / 134 ~155
5.75 35 63 130 / 136 / 136 ~160 (adjusted back to 155, getting close to internal temp-holding stage)
6.0 35 65 133 / 137 / 138 ~155 (just entering into my crital control point for I/T's now)
6.25 35 67 135 / 137 / 138 ~155 (chamber configuration adjustment seems nearly perfect...not touching that anymore)
6.5 32 69 135 / 138 / 138 ~155
6.75 32 72 138 / 137 / 138 ~ 155
7.0 32 74 136 / 139 / 140 ~155 (chamber temp reduced to 150, to slightly reduce and stabilize internal meat temps)
7.25 32 75 138 / 140 / 140 ~150 (reduced to 145 to continue as described above)
7.5 32 77 138 / 140 / 141 ~145 (decreased burner rate, increased R/H intake from 10% to 25% and L/H intake
from closed to 15% open to reduce smoke chamber convection efficiency to slow
the internal temp climb-rate)
7.75 32 80 136 / 138 / 140 ~140 (slight increase in burner rate, increased R/H intake air to 30%, decreased L/H intake
to 10%, attempting to fine-tune the chamber temps...or more specifically, the internal
8.0 30 81 135 / 137 / 138 ~160 (reduced burner rate for overall temp control, closed L/H air intake to hold I/T on that side)
8.25 30 78 136 / 139 / 140 ~155 (opened R/H air intake from 30% to 50%, reduced burner rate)
8.5 30 79 136 / 140 / 140 ~155 (slight reduction in burner rate, shooting for 150* chamber temp)
8.75 30 80 136 / 140 / 142 ~155 (opened R/H air intake from 50% to 75%)
9.0 34 81 136 / 140 / 140 ~150 (no adjustments, as I predict a temp-drop is coming on it's own...I/T's are bit higher on
the center/left than I would like, but, with the sun getting lower in the sky @ 4:30 PM
mountain time, it'll come on it's own, and chamber temps have dropped 5* already)
9.5 34 78 135 / 135 / 138 ~135 (there's that chamber temp drop I saw coming...slight increase in burner rate)
9.75 33 77 131 / 135 / 138 ~150 (no adjustments)
10.0 33 78 133 / 136 / 138 ~155 (no adjustments)
10.25 33 78 133 / 137 / 138 ~160 (no adjustments)
10.5 33 80 136 / 143 / 143 ~160 (adjusted burner rate to 180 chamber temp..my theory on the I/T climb is that most of
the moisture loss I can achieve has been obtained at this point, based on the fact that
evaporating water cools it's suroundings, much like evaporate water coolers will in low
humidity environments...I feel that the internal evaporation rates have fallen off well below
what they were throughout the drying stage up to this point) Time for finished temps.
10.75 30 84 142 / 152 / 149 ~190 (reduced burner rate to 180..temp swing due to unstable smoker temp...chamber temp no
critical at this point)
11.0 30 87 147 / 157 / 154 ~180 (time to prepare an accessory grate and pan to place loaves on for resting and patting-off
11.25 30 86 151 / 158 / 156 ~180 (wait for it...)
11.5 30 88 151 / 158 / 156 ~180 (hmm...stalled-out???)
11.75 29 87 153 / 160 / 158 190 (no adjustments made)
12.0 29 83 154 / 162 / 160 190 (let it ride, I say)
12.25 29 82 156 / 164 / 162 190 (almost there on center and left)
12.5 61? 79 156 / 165 / 163 190 (waiting to see if the left loaf will make 165 before too long so I can pull two at one shot)
Must be a storm-front close by...should have monitored barometer as well?
Temp at that location is nearly 15* lower @ 40 miles away from me. Hmm, a bit
of hind-sight here...I have a thermo-hygrometer in my meat fridge...could have
had instant updates and more accurate local humidity readings...HA!!!
12.75 61 77 156 / 165 / 165 190 (center and left are coming out to rest)
13.0 61 72 154 / 134 / 144 ~190 (left-hand loaf took a hit from opening the smoke chamber)
13.25 61 70 154 / 121 / 133 190
13.5 77 67 156 / 110 / 124 190
13.75 77 64 158 / 100 / 113 ~185 (bumped burner rate up just a tad)
14.0 77 63 159 / 93 / 109 ~195 (letting it ride...just into a -20* quick-chill for the two that have rested)
14.5 77 60 162 / *** / *** ~195
14.75 77 61 165/ *** / *** ~195 (out to rest on open grate, covered with a towel...did the same with the 1st 2 after
patting-down rendered fat)
15.0 ************************************ (I'm taking a break for dinner @ 10:30 PM and reviewing everything posted below at
last, so the rest can wait...I'll rest the last one 'til it's about 125* and toss in the freezer
for the night, then slice up the small one for a review)
16.0 113 / *** / *** *** (time for wraps, weighing and into the freezer for this fella)
(*** internal temps indicate subject is in the freezer chilling)
HEAT-TREATMENT DRYING STAGE (130-140* I/T RANGE) DATA
Total time in 130-140* range @ 10.5 hours into the smoke
=4.75 / >5.25 / >5.25
Total time in 130-140* range @ 11 hours into the smoke
>5.25 / >5.25 / >5.25
***Due to passing above my target drying temp range of 130+* internal temps on the center and right-hand on the second reading, and the left-hand on the third reading, I should have taken probe readings in the sausage every 15 minutes following probe insertion until all were above 130*, but we can get pretty close estimated times on those from the first, second and third readings (not including times when temps passed over 140* I/T during the heat-treatment forced-drying)...if only I had data-logging temp probes with downloadable readouts...tons of coin for required to grab ahold of those, no doubt.
PRE/POST DRIED/SMOKED WEIGHTS AND % WEIGHT LOSS
Weight pre-dried Weight post-dried/fully cooked & chilled Percent weight loss Finished Yeild %
2lb-0oz(32), 1lb-0oz(16), 2lb-0oz(32) 1lb-5.8oz(21.8), 10.7oz,1lb-6.0oz(22.0) 31.875, 33.125, 31.25 68.125, 66.875, 68.75
OK, I'm about out of breath...er...maybe my typing fingers are worn-out??? Yeah,that...
All that said, how about taking a look at some visuals of how it all came together?!?!?!
MY FIRST RUN WITH MY MANUAL #10 MEAT GRINDER...
One point to consider (which I nearly botched up and forgot about), is to grind the meat before the fat, or else you'll need to clean out the grinder so the fat smear doesn't hamper your meat grinding.
A nice and coarse grind of the chicken thighs...this meat was still nearly completely frozen (approx 25* and very solid) when I first began trimming and cubing to prep for grinding, so it stayed very cold the entire time. I went straight from the plate after grinding into a stainless mixing bowl with plastic wrap to cover, and into the fridge until I was ready for mixing the meat, fat and seasoning/cure blend. SO, this meat tempered in the fridge for about 12-15 minutes prior to mixing. Also, my grinder was sanitized, wrapped and stored overnight in a 20* fridge until I was ready for final assembly and grinding. After grinding, I went straight to the scale, which I had previously retieved and stored the tare weight of the plate. Then I could finish my formulation for fat content, seasonings and cure amounts:
A little bit of beef fat got through the coarse plate as you can see on the top/center of the pile...I displaced the remaining meat through the grinder cylinder with fat, then, changed to the fine plate to grind the fat:
Fat trimmings from a pre-smoke point/flat brisket separation has been my previous choice for this recipe, so I'm sticking with it. I may be wrong, but my theory is that with the stronger and deeper flavors of beef brisket, the fat may be adding a deeper flavor to the chicken thigh meat, lending it's characteristics to this sausage's overall flavor profile as well. I haven't tried the recipe with fat from a different cut of beef, or from pork, so I for now, that's still just a theory:
The seasoning blend and cure formed a nice paste for mixing into the meat...not too wet, not too dry:
The last of the meat mix has been weighed out into my desired amounts for loafs, and I'm taking one last look at the texture and uniformity of the mix before I set out to form my loafs. I place plastic film on the scale tray, so after reaching the weight I want, I can go straight to the board, weigh out another, and get them all formed and wrapped. It's an assembly line of sorts which goes pretty quickly. I had these loaves weighed out, formed, and the final wraps on in less than 2 minutes per loaf, and I don't make sausage loaves very often (less than one batch per month, average). You just need to have your game plan together and your equipment ready to go. And don't skimp on the plastic film when you liine your scale try, etc. You will use all of what you place out. Also, we but 3,000 ft rolls of plastic wrap...inexpensive and lasts for years. Fast is safe when you are handling meat with some room-temperature work surfaces prior to the meat being cured:
This looks like a nice mix, and some great contrasting textures should come through when it's all done:
Time to form those loaves...I like to put the meat on plastic wrap as I weigh it out. When I have the weight I want, I lift the plastic up around the loaf as I knead the meat from the center towards the end. This keeps the meat inside the plastic wrap and off my hands. This works out air cavities while the meat is worked into the desired diameter and length of the loaf. When it looks the way I like and has a nice smooth surface under the pastic film, I fold the edges of the plastic over the length of the loaf, twist one end closed, and tighten the plastic film down the length while I work out any surface air cavities between the meat mix and the plastic film. When the air is gone, twist the remaining end closed and add additional layers of plasctic wrap tightly around the loaf to keep hold it all together:
The 1lb loaf, just finished being formed (before final layers of wrap are added). A nice and smooth surface...just the way I like it. This is a good look at the final mix uniformity as well:
Straight into my freshly defrosted, sanitized and re-stabilized (temps) meat fridge. 20 hours into the cure here, and I'm about to get the smoker fired up. For those without a dedicated meat brining/curing/thawing fridge as I have here, you could place the formed/wrapped loaves into a covered/sealed flat container and place it into your fridge where it can rest until curing is finished. This will eliminate or at least greatly reduce the risk for any contamination to take place if something spills in your fridge. Bear in mind that while complete isolation is the safest method, there are other ways to maintain food safety while in refrigeration...a little imagination will go a long way:
Let the thin blue smoke begin...cherry/pecan to bring it all home...into the Smoke Vault 24 gasser with 125* chamber temp @ 7:30 AM mountain time. I placed the smaller 1lb loaf in the center of the grate where it should be slightly cooler for the height/grate position I chose above the water pan, taking baffling of heat into consideration:
2.5 hours in, just after bumping to 150* chamber temps...color is fantastic already, but, we're just gettin' started...what I'm looking at here is the how much the meat is sweating and any rendering of fat which may be taking place thus far...you can beads of moisture on the rounded portions of the ends the best, not as easily down the length, but it's there:
3.5 hours in, and I decided to have a closer look at the sweating progress...bubbles of moisture forming quite nicely on top and down the sides in some areas, with streaming down the top and over the sides...I'll take that as some good progress:
4.5 hours in, and I/T's were running left to right, respectively, 118, 125 and 126*. I took this opportunity to make smoke chamber configuration adjustments to compensate for the apparent higher R/H temps by cracking my lower right intake air vent open about 10%. Normally, I would run fully closed, as I did for the start of this smoke, for increased chamber humidity, but I was also was running without my 24" vent stack mod for increase humidity by reducing the draft, which I didn't consider would also change the grate temps. I could have caught this earlier by monitoring grate temps with probes, but no harm was done. I can make further adjustments by rotation of grates, etc, later on when I go into the temp hold stage.
Temp monitoring provided by two Bradley digitals, along with a wally-world special I bought off the shelf/in store, which is a Mainstays brand, manufactured by Acu-rite. It reads in tenths of a degree...nice little unit for watching temp swings. All were priced at under $20,00, with the wally-world model at about 15 bucks, of I recall...nothing special or expensive here.
I did place a 2 x 4 between the probe heads and smoker cabinet for thermal insulation shortly after setting it all up, just to keep from having erroneous readings from high operating temp of the probe heads themselves, or worse, causing permanently damage to the heads:
A mess of cables, but it gets the job done:
8.25 hours in, and I'm lovin' this view (!!!!!!!!) while I crack the door now and then to drop average chamber temps back:
I was having technical difficulty with my mug of coffee (14th thru 16th cup...yeeeeeeeeeee---haaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!...do you think I should switch to decaf???...LOL!) by the time I got this last pic uploaded...I was attempting to multi-task...drinking and loading, and it wasn't going too well, 'cause I didn't get long enough breaks between starting the next pic insertion, and keeping the saliva out of my mug between sips was begining to turn into full-time napkin duty...just kidding!!!...but, I'm OK now...
It's probably a good thing that my wife and kids are gone to the local annual 4 x 4 mud (pit) races (what I won't sacrifice for turning out a good smoke to share with family and friends), or else they'd be going nuts about now from seeing what's going on in the smoker while I upload pics. They love this sausage recipe, above all other cold-cuts (store-bought brand-name, or deli)...I rock the house (and the rest of the block) with this one. I'm rather partial to my varioous corned beef pastramis, but then, that's a whole different animal altogether...then the various flavors of beef salami come in second.
Right and center loaves are ready to come out and play @ 165*...
The thermometers I mentioned earlier, while I wait for the magic numbers to appear:
Juat made finished temps with this one, so it's time to get busy...like I needed more to do after monitoring and recording temps and other data all day long......it's worth getting it all on the board though, IMHO:
Center and right are both @ 165*, so I gotta get busy momentarily:
Left one has awhile before it's ready...see ya soon, buddy:
I set-up a non-stck accessory grate with a cookie sheet underneathe to catch drippings and aid in cleanliness of the finished product:
Yep, temp probes are still in...never touch 'em, just unplugged the heads for removal from the smoker...ready to monitor for carry-over and temp drops while they rest:
I gave 'em a good pat-down to check for weapons and drug paraphenelia...uh, er...LOL...to remove surface rendered fat...flipped 'em over and patted the bottom, then again patted the top...they're clean...uh, er, de-greased? LOL!!!
I draped a clean, dry towel over them to allow them to continue breathing off any water vapor while they rest and cool...probes are still in, with 15 minute updates as posted in the log including ambient temps at which they are exposed to...still air, btw:
Tha aromas of these two coming out into open air about forced me into grabbing a knife and steel prematurely...way ahead of schedule! My senses were met with a very concentrated scent from the meat and seasonings, with a milder scent of the cherry/pecan smoke...hard to tell how strong the smoke actually is at this point, becuase I've been in it for over 12 hours today, and we're not done yet. The wait is KILLIN' ME already!!!!!! But, I'll wait for it...my daughters are hounding me for a slice or 3 in a bad way right now...
At 14.5 hours, my girls reluctantly turned in for the night without a taste of daddy's creation...(sigh). The boys have turned in as well, but aren't concerned about today's smoke...they know it will be here when I get back from work tomarrow night. The wife is cat-napping in her chair next to the computer...I know she's waiting for the sound of my steel over a knife, and then, she'll be wide awake...LOL!!!
TIC-TOC---TIC-TOC...get chilly my little friends, so I can cut you up!
The moment of truth has come at last...the 1lbr goion' under the knife here...I'm so tired right now that I didn't realize it when I started slicing, or when I took pics, until I reviewed them...I sliced the probed end...so there's that nice big ol' hole in the middle...Ha-ha-ha!!!
I actually couldn't decide which of these to keep and which to toss ('cause I'm too darn tired), so all but one made the grade...then, organizing them...naw, just go with the flow of the order you took them in, I thought to myself...so now, I'll shut my chicken salami eatin' hole up, and let your thoughts take over...don't forget the napkins, and cover your keyboard...
I'll admit it...that was about the wildest smoke I've had in months...but, was it ever worth the effort. I think the finished weights in the smoke log speak volumes about success of the drying method. If anyone ask me to prove it? I can...
Did I accomplish my goal for a heat-treated semi-dried salami? I'll just say that the weight-loss was far better than even I expected, so that alone gets a high score. 31-33% weight loss? Pretty good for what I call semi-dried...I read somewhere that dried sausages loose from 30-40% water weight, though I realize that some of mine lost weight from rendered fat, so this isn't all water weight loss. I wouldn't even know where to begin calculating that ratio, so I won't try...fair enough?
Were there any noticable flavor profile changes from the original smoking method used for this sausage? Quite a bit more concentration of flavors here, mainly in the meat itself, but also due to the super-long smoking period...never did pull the smoke wood, and it was still going when the last one came out. Had a great, smooth smoke flavor to top off the meat and seasoning.
Texture of slicing and chew? It had a sort of lightly chewy hammy texture, like with a good quality cured/smoked ham you bake at home for a holiday dinner? Anyway, texture was much better than previously achieved with my non-dried methods for chew and slicing. I was crossing my fingers in hopes that the really long ride over 130* wouldn't kill the texture and make a mush out of it, as well as the 165* finish temp and slow cooling to complete the drying, but everything I knew and read told me it wouldn't... sometimes you just gotta find out first-hand to be sure.
Overall moisture content? Very, very good...dare I say perfect? Well, maybe not, but, as th epics show, it still has some glistening moisture inside after being well-chilled and freshly sliced. No scrumbling what-so-ever, and that was...well, that was about as great of a sight as I could ask for on round one for this method.
Will I do it again? If I don't, I'm thinking I better find a rock to live under for self preservation, 'cause the wife and kids would never forget this one...hmm, maybe if I hide it from them and say it went bad? Sour taste and grey inside or something like that? Crap, too late, they know my user name here...I'm DOOMED if I don't make it this way again!
I'm very happy with this one right now. If I could possibly change anything...well, I'll have to get back to you on that, 'cause I'm not thinking extra sharp anymore...1:00AM is fast approaching, and I need eyelid inspections, ASAP.
This was a MAJOR stepping-stone in my quest for the ever-elusive ultimate smoke. It puts me much closer to the way I want to make most of my unstuffed sausage recipes from now on, that's for sure. Tons of info for everyone to digest, including myself. But, the bases are loaded for another home-run. Take your best swing and hope it's not a curve-ball...
Man, I gotta save as much of this batch as possible for the gathering coming up...OK, the 2 - 2lbrs are locked up (I have the only key to the Master-Lock) in my outdoor freezer as I finish writing here...no worries! LOL!!!
I hated to make this such a massively long post, but as you now know, there's a reason behind my apparent insanity! Ha-ha-ha!
You can stick a fork in me now, 'cause I'm done!
Hope you enjoyed the ride as much as I did!