Archive for the ‘Saucisson Sec’ Category

1867 – Oyama Sausage Co. [Ep 62]


Many a romp through France got me very dearly attached to saucisson sec. The count of Albertan charcutiers in business back then, and still, added up to a disheartening zero. There was, however, hope. Every visit to the west coast meant pilgrimage to Oyama’s stall at the Granville Island Market to get a fix. I’ve adored their rillettes, confits, terrines, sausages, dry cured meats, you name it. And this whole damn time I wondered how they got it all so right. Then I met John.

It was really, really hard not to make a reference in this post to Yoda or Mecca somewhere, and will likely be scorned for capitalizing both those words in the same sentence. John’s at the top of his game, and goes right to the top of the list of coolest people I’ve ever met in the world of food. Folks think they know their shit. They don’t. John does. A mini-series of videos wouldn’t be sufficient. It was a humbling visit.

Moose Saucisson Sec at 8 Months


More learning as I go. Just checked previous posts to see when I made this batch of saucssion sec. 8 months ago today. I wasn’t sure how long this stuff would last, and apparently the answer is: ‘a really, really long time‘. I’ve wondered if one could indeed put up dry cured meats from fall-butchered animals and have them keep successfully without refrigeration or freezing until the next butchering season. Looks like the answer is yes. Perhaps even more exciting is that the quality has not deteriorated, and I even am going to suggest it has improved. I was satisfied with this batch, but not excited about it generally – likely the reason there’s still some hanging in the cellar. But it seems to have actually improved with age. Maybe I’m tasting satisfaction rather than reality.

I’m very pleased with the white molds that have become the norm in the cellar. And yes, mold can be very desirable indeed, despite how many people feel about it. Seems all mold has become synonymous with spoilage or ‘yuck’ in general – a 21st century misunderstanding. I don’t innoculate the meat with any culture, it’s simply the flora that decided to come hang out in my curing space. I’m still amazed at how some of these processes [fermenting being another one] seem so complex, exotic, and magical as a newbie retro-gastronomist [I'm coining that one, baby], yet are so natural, passive, and well…easy. I no longer wonder how our ancestors discovered fermentation or moldy charcuterie and cheese. Nature did its thing, and humans observed and went along for the ride. A tasty ride.

Saucisson Sec, Two Ways


These batches were put up on Tuesday [Mar 29]. I find I have to write about this kind of thing or I simply lose track of when they were made, which makes it a bit hard to remember how long they’ve been aging and how they’ve responded to temp, humidity, etc.

Both are essentially Ruhlman’s recipes, with two major exceptions. First, the pork version [used Irvings Farm Fresh Berkshire] has half the garlic called for, as I’m looking for a cleaner expression of the pork, less dominated by garlic. I find Ruhlman generally likes ‘flavor’ about 25% more than me, so I tone down his aromatics, generally.

The second batch was made from wild cow elk shank – trim I’d reserved in November for sausage. Because I could, I used some of the now-ubiquitous-to-me dried morel and shaggy parasol powders in this batch. I’m not sure they’ll show up, but I had to try in the name of research. And because, well, wild game and wild mushrooms in the same dry-cured sausage just plain sounds lovely.

So there they hang in the cellar, at 5C & 76%rh for at least a month.

Saucisson Sec Follow Up


It’s been 3 weeks since I put up this batch, and the thinnest of them are just starting to become ready to go. The thicker ones – the game ones being especially thick, won’t be ready for another week or two at least.

My first successful batch is all but a memory, now long gone. It was lovely. This second batch was about twice as large. I’m making another today – pork from two local farms. I’m trying to have the resolve to put up a batch once per month – enough to have a continuous stock. Not too difficult to have the resolve when the product’s so dreamy.

For the  geeks. Modified my drying setup. You can see the dowels the small sausages are on – 3 rows 48″ long. I can make links the length of a half sheet pan, and make two per string – my solution to the links not touching each other. Then there are two dowels running perpendicular across the end of the room, also 48″ long. It multiplied my hanging capacity by about 500%. Still have some tweaking to do for ease of use, and may increase my capacity further down the road, but for now I’m thoroughly pleased. 5C 63% humidity. I’m still shocked that at this time of year I actually have to tone down the humidity in the space – it easily can climb into the 70’s if I allow the salt water wicking from a pail to pool on the floor. The rest of the house is sub 20% humidity. I’m likely going to have to knock it sub 60% RH before loading the space with all those jowls and new batches of saucisson sec, which will bolster it upward.

Saucisson Sec & Dry Curing Calf Moose


I put this batch up last weekend – about a 5lb batch of pork saucisson sec, and a similar sized batch of calf moose saucisson sec. I’m also dry curing a piece of sirloin tip from the calf moose to see how that goes. For my first attempt at the game version of saucisson sec, I opted for a higher ratio of Berkshire back fat than would be used for the pork version – the fat reserved from one of the many fall pig butchering escapades.

That’s one big change in my sausage making routine that rocks. When we butchered the pigs, the trim was set aside but not ground that day [which saves time and labor that day - both appreciated] AND an appropriate amount of back fat was added to each pack. Genius. So when I pull a trim pack from the freezer to make saucisson or fresh sausage, it handily includes the necessary fat. I used to freeze my fat separately.  No more. Saved time on butcher day, fuss on sausage making day, uses less packaging, and leaving it in trim form rather than ground gives me more options for texture of the forcemeat.

I’m a little shocked that my cellar is at 79% humidity – a little too high for my liking, and the opposite problem I’d expected at  this time of year with the furnace fighting the -30C weather and drying out the air something bad in the rest of the house [sub-20%]. I’m not complaining. Easier to dry it up here than get the RH up.

I can see me having an awful lot of saucisson to put every year if this keeps working out.

Saucisson Sec-sess


Finally. After screwing it up, then waiting more than a year to give it another go, I’ve got it. Yes, I walked around my kitchen with my arms up in the air declaring to all my victory. See, I love this stuff. Deeply. Not only that, my otherwise vegetarian daughters love this stuff. And bacon.

I wrote about the making of it here. What I knew but had been too busy to concern myself with was that the small hog-middle sized ones dry quickly and I would be rich in saucisson sec sooner than expected. Only by happening down there to show a friend my setup did we realize that they were getting close to ready – the odd one being ready to go.

Why’d it work this time? Imo, two factors, both important: 1] Humidity was roughly 60% with a temp between 9-11C in my cellar and 2] I used Instacure #2, which I should have used the first time [used pink salt, the #1 version], but you can’t buy it where I live, so I had to order some online from the US.

Just when I thought my food-life couldn’t get any richer.

Saucisson Sec


Must be the weather. I was writing down when various batches of sausage were made, and it turns out I’ve done 5+ batches of sausage in the past couple weeks – far more than  normal. Three reasons. 1) my new grinder is making the whole process easier and more enjoyable and more importantly 2) my cellar conditions are where they need to be and 3) I have some time, with most of the garden in, wines started, and a gap between butchering sessions. So this morning, another batch of saucisson sec – same recipe from ‘Charcuterie’, but in hog casing. The big dark ones in the photo are more of a coppa/saucisson sec, and have hung for a couple weeks now. I made the saucisson out in my unheated garage this morning as it sleeted – again taking advantage of the cold.

Conditions: The bottom line with dry curing, is if you don’t have a space with the right temp and humidity, you can’t do it.  Trying to fight those requirements yields wasted meat and time – been there. My cellar’s currently at 11.3C and 64% humidity, so I’m pretty pleased. Perhaps a bit cold, but I’ll take it. I’m fairly certain that the cheese cellaring setups are contributing critical additional moisture to the space as they have water wicking into masonry achieving 95% or so within the container, and the lids are quite open, allowing humidity to escape – the sausages sitting above the cheese cases. Who knew cheese cellaring could assist meat cellaring. I also have your typical salted water bucket in the space wicking into a cloth, dripping onto a large flat rock. Takes all that here when furnaces are running, and I’m guessing it won’t be enough in a couple months. My backup plan is to store the finished saucisson [if succesful] in a setup similar to what’s holding my cheese – no humidity problems there, and I know my cellar drops to 8-9C in the deep freeze of Jan/Feb – so keeping it there should be safe.

Troubleshooting: One item I need to resolve when using the natural hog casing – how to hang them so that the adjacent sausage isn’t touching it’s ‘partner’. I know dowels are used at the joint rather than string as I’ve done, but that wouldn’t be a practical setup here. I think simply tying them up so they don’t touch would be easier and more effective. The second bit I have to improve on is making sure my trim [when butchering the pigs] has an appropriate amount of back fat tossed in with it so that when sausage making time comes, the bag is geared up with exactly what I need. This batch has half as much diced back fat as it should – simply because that’s all that was tossed in on butchering day. Easy fix.

Last item of note. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on forums, and have become very grateful for my space. Most folks use geared out fridges of some kind. Although the fridges have their advantages, I’m finding my cellar offers vastly more capacity [the space being about 4'x8'x6'], requires no technology, and has no operating cost for energy. I also get that utopic experience of walking into the cellar to see all of the hanging meats in their glory, rather than a not-so-lovely-fridge.

Cellar Dream-Come-True


I knew when I built my wine and root cellars, that they would bring me joy – but I had no idea it would happen so thoroughly, so quickly. Today I made a batch of very, very large saucisson sec. It was time to try again after my last slightly hurtful failure, and the humidity in my cellar has been above 60% since early spring, largely having been resolve by 1) building a door, imagine that and 2) having a passive humidifier setup which is a bucket with salt water + a rag wicking water on to a flat rock on the floor = ~20%+ bump up in RH.

As I tied the links up in the cellar, I paused at the sight of copious quantities of saucisson sec, hanging above aging wheels of local goat cheese, themselves above many carboys full of urban fruit wine - and was thoroughly pleased to the core. It’s a dream-come-true, really. The cheese setup, btw, is a genius one – Holly at Smoky Valley Goat Cheese hooked me up with this idea: food grade plastic bin with lid, salt water on bottom, add rack, cheese on top [not touching water] = 95+% humidity. The humidity can be tweaked by simply sliding the lid open or closed. I had no idea how to achieve the necessary humidity for cheese ripening without the typical old-fridge-setup folks use. Problem solved.

I find myself ducking down to the cellar daily now – checking dry cured meat or smelling the cheese and checking out for any microflora action, topping up wine carboys or checking their state of fermentation, grabbing a bottle of wine or a jar of pickles, jam, or fruit syrup, or rounding up some root veg for dinner. Cellars are underrated – mine’s changing my life, and I think I’m only just starting to get the hang of it.

Saucisson Sec V1.0 Floppage?

Okay people who know better, please weigh in. Verdict on Saucisson Sec V1.0 = crap. The inside looks as if it was hollowed a bit, and has a browny-not-so-nice color to it. I currently believe it was a humidity problem. We’ve had a really dry spring, and my estimate of 60%+ humidity quickly turned into 20%-30%. [the good news being that my basement is really dry this year!] So presumably the outside dried quickly, not allowing the center to breathe? If you know, please comment. I’ve left the rest to continue to do its thing, as a hail mary that it might improve, but I suspect it won’t.

Disappointing? Yes. But I also figured it would take some learning the hard way prior to getting some chops down.

Saucisson Sec – Day 14

A quick update at the two-week mark. On day one, it looked like, well…like fresh sausage. Surprise, surprise. But today it’s already looking the the part! This is day 14 of roughly 18-20 days of dry cure process. We had a cold spell in there, which dropped the humidity far below the 60-70% I was hoping for into the 40%s. Not ideal, so we’ll see how that impacts things. But so far it looks, smells, and feels like something I’m going to be pretty jazzed about – which is a big relief.

What does one do with saucisson sec? Slice it thin. Wine. Some cheese, perhaps. Rustic bread. Fresh fruits and veg. Olives. Some fresh air and some sun, maybe. Can’t wait.