Friday, November 29, 2013

Stuffing Meat Into Your Bung (Cotto Salami With Harissa).

Sometimes I get a craving for a bit of good ol' American-style "sandwich salami" of the variety that is mass-marketed throughout the land. I have a weakness for the familiar flavor of the stuff and I don't really know why... Oh yeah, I actually might know why. How is this for some local Albany, NY folklore? -- At the Albany Academy Day Camp Carnival (circa the late 80s when I was a wee 'un in attendance) there used to be a game where you tried to pop balloons with darts. Your prize was a hunk of salami cut from a lengthy chub slapped on white bread with a squirt of yellow mustard... Maybe this craving is a nostalgic taste memory sort of situation resulting from this.

Anyhow, the generic "salami" peddled at the grocery stores (and even at many upscale "delis") is generally of dubious provenance and manufacture. Who knows what nonsense lurks in those perfectly cylindrical lengths of salami languishing in your grocer's cold case? So I thought I would give a try at a homemade example of the form. I decided that a "cotto" or cooked style salami might approximate the familiar texture as opposed to a dry-cured product.

For large diameter salamis I haven't had too much luck with synthetic or collagen casings, so I went with some good ol' beef lung for this recipe. When using bung and writing posts about it you get the added benefit of being able to make numerous childishly naughty references to bungs (see title of post)...

You can get a bung delivered (free shipping!) from the Sausage Maker, Inc. out of Buffalo, NY. 


A single beef bung can be about 4-5" in diameter and you can stuff about 10 pounds in each one. I am using a 5 1/4 pound recipe so I cut the thing in half. You can re-salt the remaining bung, seal an end with a hog ring, and reserve it for a future recipe.

I adapted the following Len Poli recipe for American Style Cotto Salami. I omitted the TVP, utilized dextrose instead of sugar, and substituted equal amounts of allspice and mace for the cardamom. In addition, I added 4 tablespoons of harissa. I like a spicy salami.

Finally, I inoculated the meat mixture with some live culture (Bactoferm FLC) and altered the cooking times to get a slight bit of fermented tang into the recipe.

A note on salami tying. Watch this video on "legatura del salami," that guy is my idle. I try to follow his technique as best as I can. A tip I have is to make a little string spindle like the one pictured below. Makes things a bit easier.

There she is. Not bad, not bad. A little sloppy and lopsided but she will do nicely.

Here is the break down on cooking times. I let the meat paste develop in the fridge for 48 hours. On cooking day I left the mixture out for about 4 hours to come to room temp. Then the chub went into my temperature controlled smoker rig (with no smoke) for 2 hours at 110 degrees. Then I incrementally raised the temperature to 165 and cooked until the salami had an internal temperature of 150 degrees. Total cooking time was something like 12-14 hours.

Here she is after I removed her from the heat cabinet and sprayed with water until the internal temp dropped to 120 degrees. I hung the salami in my chilly basement overnight.

I got impatient the next day and cut into the bottom to see the results. I generally like to leave a salami like this in the vegetable drawer of my fridge for a couple days to develop and dry out a little bit before cutting. But slicing in I found that the color, texture, and smell were all just about right!

Today I thinly sliced a half-pound or so on my trusty meat slicer Lurlissa.

I thought this particular salami came out just right. Just the right amount of "salami" flavor with a nice bit of flat heat from the harissa. The texture was firm and was somewhere betwixt a deli counter "hard" salami and a "Genoa" style. I pretty much hit the nail on the head in terms of what I was going for so I was very satisfied with the results of this endeavor.

I will be munching salami sandwiches (have you tried a salami n' butter sandy? You should.) for some time to come as 5 pounds is a butt-ton (bung-ton, teehee) of salami. I am OK with this. 

There is just something reassuring about having a giant chub of salami floating around the homestead, don't know why... Just think about how much it would cost to buy your own big ol' whole salami from any purveyor. It would cost an arm and a leg. This is how I convince myself that all of the time and money I put into my sausage making is worth it in the end.

In any event, I am chalking up my Cotto Salami w/Harissa as a resounding success. 

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