Return to the Cabinet of Doctor Charcuterie

Last year at this time I was furiously scrambling to complete my final entry in the Charcutepalooza competition. My lonzino and bresaola had just crossed the time/weight threshold for safe consumption, and quickly disappeared in a flurry of holiday gifts and dinner party appetizers. The salami I had made the month before took longer to run out, mostly because I was rationing it. I had put so much effort into making it that I couldn’t bear to see it disappear.

But that salami and I had unfinished business. I tasted good, but could have been better. It was too thin, and the meat/fat ratio had skewed during drying. I had resolved to try again, but kept putting it off until my copy of Salumi by Ruhlman and Polcyn arrived, which got me thinking about making another batch. When Punk Domestics announced their Festa di Salumi, I knew it was time to get on with it. I would make more finocchiona, and this time i would get it right.

The Salumi recipe is the same as the recipe in Charcuterie: coarse ground pork and pork fat mixed with seasonings and wine. The difference for me is that grinding five pounds of meat is no longer a major undertaking.

Ground Pork

Instead of dicing the fat by hand, which resulted in oversized chunks in my final salami, I ran it through the grinder.

Ground Fat

After adding curing salt, dextrose, black pepper, wine, and a healthy dose of fennel pollen I gave everything a good mix.

Mixed Filling

I switched from hog casings to beef middles in order to produce a thicker final product. (It’s also much easier to stuff a few middles than it is to fill twelve feet of thin casings.) I had one casing split, but was able to recover. Rather then tie each one off with string, I used elastic netting, which I figured would maintain a more even pressure on the casing as it hung. I improvised a stuffing tube by cutting the top and bottom off of a plastic bottle.


When we (I was assisted as always by She Who Must Be Obeyed) were done we had three large and one small salami, and a few ounces of unused filling which I wrapped in plastic to use as a fermentation check.

Ready to Ferment

I let the salami ferment in a plastic box, which I left in my oven with the light on. It created a constant 80 °F for 36 hours, at the end of which the pH had dropped to 5.1 and the filling had changed to a bright pink.


After giving each salami a dunk in mold culture, I weighed them and hung them in my curing cabinet, which you can see at the top of this post.

As of today they are completely covered with new mold. They won’t be ready until after the new year, but I’m willing to wait. In the meantime I’ll try the lonza and pancetta I hung weeks earlier. But that’s the subject of the next two posts.

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