Home curing is starting to become popular again. Many home chefs are discovering what their ancestors loved - deliciously cured meats and fish with unique flavor.The best part of curing is that it's so simple .Even novice home chefs can try their hand at and get good results.
Ian Fisher wrote about it as he also tried his hand at this ancient method in today's New York Times Food section. Curing is one of the oldest food preparations, beginning with the ancients and the first uses of salting and smoking. Every culture had some type of cured meat from the indigenous Plains tribes to the ancients,Greeks, Romans, Spaniards and Persians.Curing can range from simple to labor intensive and highly elaborate. There are all sorts of gadgets to create charcuterie or salumeria level meats. For those considering it, remember you'll have to humidifiers, grinders slicers, casing and pH readers. Some home curers even go as far as building their own drying rooms.It's a hobby that can quickly take over a person's life much like canning. Like canning there are caveats. There have to be precautions since it's basically rot that causes curing,Without any proper ones, salmonella can set in. A former chef at Chez Panisse and an early advocate of home curing Paul Bertolli offers this advice. Leave the more complicated processes to the pros.Beginners should buy his book Cooking By Hand to learn simple curing (although his cured salamis can be had at Whole Foods). He learned how to cure by observing his Italian born grandparents curing cold cuts in their Berkeley California home.
Mr Fisher went the simple route with curing, using the simplest method - salt.Using it draws the rot sucking the moisture out as well as concentrating flavor.This process also allows added flavors to infuse into the meat. This way home curers can add favorite spices to make every piece of cured meat unique,.Many home curers use a variety of different herbs such as fennel and clove as well as nutmeg, juniper thyme and bay leaf.. Garlic can also be used along with onion flakes.Mr Fisher's favorite,the Roman guanciale or pig's cheek, one of the main ingredients in pasta carbonara is one of those cured meats delicately spiced for flavor.Garlic , rosemary and coriander is mixed with salt, pepper and sugar and then rubbed over the cheek.It's then popped into a Ziploc bag for just three days. it canbe roasted right away or cured in a drying space. such as a fireplace Mr Fisher also has dried meats in his. Three weeks later he had the perfect cured meat, tough and dry on the outside, with meat encased in an almost buttery fat.His next project was bacon, made from the pig's belly and cured with salt sugar and maple syrup. He moved on to lox , salmon cured with horseradish and surprisingly beets.The result was a flavorful treat ,perfect with bagels and cream cheese of course.
Home cured meats and fish are true delights that any home chef can make. The recipe is simple enough to make delicious maple bacon or variations of salami It's worth the effort because the end result is flavor packed slices of cold cuts..