30 months ago, the boy and I embarked on a journey that has become one of the most rewarding hobbies we could have imagined. It was then, that we decided to take a family tradition and evolve it into a new craft. I never knew a time where we didn’t make our own Italian sausages, and now my boy(s) will never know a time that we didn’t make charcuterie.
Me and my dad.
And a few years later, and I am with a young Uncle Nick and a Miss Play Gourmet.
Making sausage has always been about family. Making it and eating it together, sharing the time that it took to make as well as the pride in how wonderful a job we thought we did.
Fast forward to 30 months ago, the little play gourmet and I undertook a project to build a curing chamber. We found an old drink fridge on craigslist. We added a temperature controller, humidity controller, humidifier, and fan. With a couple of nights of tweaking, we had our curing chamber.
Now that we had the chamber, we needed a project. In hindsight, the project we chose was a bit ambitious. We decided our first project should be a prosciutto. Prosciutto de Parma, to be precise, cured for 30 months.
After a fair amount of research we found the pig we wanted, and purchased a leg, cut for the purpose of curing.
Uncle Nick and I built a wooden box for this leg, where we packed it in salt, and placed a heavy weight on it, in order to let as much blood out as possible.
After about a few days of this, we brine it for another week in the traditional spices, mostly salt, but highlighted by juniper berries, brown sugar, rosemary and thyme.
Then it was ready to be hung. In order to protect the meat from anything malicious, we coated the exposed areas with copious amounts of cayenne pepper.
The final step was to wait 30 months. No joke. Nothing else to do.
So what do we do for 30 months in the meantime? Well, we learned a lot about charcuterie.
The day finally came this week. The boy 30 months older, and it is time to see how our 1st project came out.
I was 100% prepared to toss the final product. I was ready for a grey color, or bad smell, or rock hard piece of petrified meat.
But instead, it was dream realized.
The most magnificent thing we have ever cured, ever created.
How can a piece of meat sit for 30 months, and turn into something like this? When you consider that something in the fridge for 2 weeks goes straight in the trash?
There are all kinds of lessons to learn from this project, but right now, we are just thrilled to have such a success and to be able to share it with others.
And even though we have made dozens of salami’s and other cured meats, we can now say we have completed the first project of our fabulous family tradition.