Saturday, February 26, 2011

Learning to Make Chorizo and Pancetta

When I learned that chefs Jared Van Camp and Sam Burman of Quality Social were going to be teaching a two-part charcuterie making class at Cups, I knew I had to check this out. And, in fact, not only have I attended the first class and am looking forward to the second next month, I'll be writing a piece for Edible San Diego's summer issue on charcuterie making at home around this class and interviews with local chefs.

In the meantime, however, I wanted to share some photos of what went on. Van Camp and Burman taught a group of 16 how to make Spanish-style chorizo and pancetta.

Spanish chorizo, of course, differs from Mexican chorizo in that it's dried and cured. Mexican chorizo is fresh sausage. In Quality Social's recipe, pork shoulder and fat back are ground separately and then blended with chipotle, dried Ancho chile powder, cayenne pepper, minced garlic, and smoked sweet paprika. A bit of bacto-ferm is dissolved into distilled water and then also added to the mixture. Once the mixture is fully blended and feeling a little tacky it's ready to be stuffed into hog casings, tied, and hung in a cool space for 18 to 20 days.

Jared Van Camp grinding pork for Spanish chorizo
Grating garlic into the ground pork, fat back, and spices
The trick to the perfect sausage is blending the meat, fat, and spices just enough but not overblending so that the fat warms up and loses its shape. You want those fat modules in the finished, cured salumi for a "mosaic" effect.
The meat mixture is placed into the sausage filling machine. As Van Camp turns the lever, Burman gently eases the filling into pork casings and eliminates air pockets.
When the casing is full, it's time to tie off individual sausages. Burman also ties in a loop for hanging.
Once everyone had filled and tied their sausages, we moved on to pancetta. This is a much simpler process. The pork belly lies flat and a flavor blend is rubbed into the top, fatty part of the belly. It's refrigerated for seven days during which time the flavor is absorbed into the fat and meat, then it's thoroughly rinsed and patted dry. The meat side is then sprinkled with finely ground pepper (toast whole pepper corns briefly before grinding to power up the flavor). Finally, the pork belly is rolled up and tied off at two-inch intervals and hung to dry for one to two weeks, depending on how dry you want the cure.

The fat side of the pork belly is rubbed with a mixture of minced garlic, Kosher salt (no jokes, please), dark brown sugar, coarsely ground black pepper, cracked juniper berries, crumbled bay leaves, grated nutmeg, and fresh thyme leaves, plus Instacure.
The newly spiced belly will sit in the refrigerator for a week, and will be turned every couple of days.
At our next class, the chefs will return with our charcuterie and will teach us how to make condiments to accompany the charcuterie. Stay tuned!

Print Page