Sunday, March 08, 2009

Homemade Salami?

If you read cookbooks or food blogs more than once a year, you may have a mild-to-moderate curiosity about food. If you have a vast collection of cookbooks (I have more than 800) or you subscribe to multiple food blogs and newsletters, you may be moderately-to-extremely interested or obsessed with food. Wherever you fall on the cooking continuum -- enjoy yourself!

Because trips to my favorite Chinese Restaurant (Shuang Cheng in Minneapolis) often require stops at one of Dinkytown's two used bookstores (Cummins and the Book House), the ultimate bill for $7.00 worth of Chinese food is often north of $25. Last Friday was no exception. I came away with very excellent Singapore Noodles, The King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Book and The Aveda Cookbook (no authors, no title page, no date -- just a small three-ring notebook with recipes from Aveda staff from around the world).

I expected whole grains with a side of cucumber for facials -- instead, I found a very typical "Church Lady" cookbook with bars, hot dish and dips. There was, however, one surprise, and it was on the first page I turned to. Homemade Salami (contributed by Jennifer Schrepfer from Blaine).

I'm no expert in charcuterie, and what I know about sausage and salami-making consists of knowing that it is a technical and often mysterious process. I also have a finely honed ability to find those products at a butcher shop or grocery store when I need to -- which is about once a year.

But Homemade Salami? I was intrigued. As intrigued as I've always been with Laurie Colwin's Spiced Beef from More Home Cooking: A writer returns to the kitchen, (HarperCollins Publishers, 1993), which requires you to make room in the fridge for 12 days for a hunk of beef that you rub each day with brown sugar, sea salt, black pepper, juniper berries and allspice and then bake for five hours at 290 degrees. I apologize to all of the guests for whom I have wanted to make this dish since I first read the recipe in 1993.

Compared to Spiced Beef, which, admittedly doesn't sound too time consuming, Homemade Salami is a snap. The recipe is easily multiplied or divided. You'd be welcomed at any buffet with a roll of this salami, some good bread and spicy mustard, and it makes a great meatloaf-like sandwich. Season this to your taste. The original recipe called for a good quantity of mustard seeds, which I didn't have. I substituted Penzey's Ancho chili powder, upped the crushed red pepper and added more black pepper. The umbrella flavor here is the liquid hickory smoke -- everything else is a supporting player.

Tools you will need:
1 bowl which will hold the entire recipe and which will fit into your refrigerator
1 large sheet pan
1 rack on which to bake the salami
1 set of tongs for turning the salami as it bakes

Homemade Salami

5 pounds ground chuck
4 T Kosher salt
2 tsp garlic powder
1 T chili powder (I used Ancho)
1-2 T coarse ground black pepper
2-3 t Wright's liquid hickory smoke
1-2 T hot crushed red pepper

1. Mix all ingredients well. Pack into a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.
2. Form into rolls. I have a kitchen scale and I was able to weigh out 12-oz rolls.
3. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment. Spray a rack with vegetable spray. Lay the rolls onto the rack.
4. Bake at 170 degrees for 8 hours, turning about every 30 minutes.

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