In this comprehensive ‘How to’, The Craft & Co‘s Dom Marzano shows us how to make world-class salami.
The process itself is relatively simple (you can do it in your garage), but there are a lot of fiddly things to get on top of before you’ll be able to call yourself a true salami master. Thankfully, we run regular salami making classes and sell handy salami-making kits sourced from local DIY experts Home Make It, which will have you churning out authentic-tasting meats in no time. But for now, on to the recipe:
A FEW THINGS TO NOTE BEFORE YOU START
There are a few things you need to put in place before you start touching that meat. First, you need to prepare your storage area.
Salami season is strictly in winter, when the temperature and humidity converge on that magical pork-maturing sweet spot.
Before starting, make sure you have enough hanging space for your salami to mature while it is drying. Traditionally this space is in the family cellar that exists under every self-sufficient Italian house. But this is Australia, and in this day and age, under our current climate, the garage is the temple to every salami-maker’s yearly offering.
The best temperature for maturing salami is anywhere between 6 and 16 degrees Celsius, with a humidity of anywhere between 70 to 85 percent. This is why winter is perfect. (If you want to gauge how suitable a spot is with scientific accuracy, go down to the hardware store and purchase a temperature and humidity gauge.)
Some other things to note about the room:
- It has to be free from any draught, but have really good air flow
- The hanging salami can’t be in contact with any of the elements. Rain is bad, and so is sunlight. As a rule, the darker the room the better.
- It might sound obvious, but make sure your salami won’t be interfered with by vermin or other pests. Anything from rats, flies to your family dog should be kept well away.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
- Pork (as much as you want to make – keep in mind the meat will reduce by about 40 per cent in size)
- Curing compound (1.2 grams per kilo of meat)
- Salt (30 grams per kilo of meat)
- Flavours. You can experiment with different spices. Some that go particularly well include:
- coriander seeds
- fennel seeds
- black pepper
- red capsicum sauce
- Casing (hog intestine, lamb bung or synthetic – the choice is yours).
Notes on meat
When selecting the pork you want to use, always go with a butcher who can tell you where the pig came from. Most Italian (or Italian-style) butchers know when salami season is, and will have the good stuff ready.
By “good stuff”, we mean free-range, heritage-bred pork, which comes from a pig that has had a happy life in the fields eating whatever it can find (as well as being fed by the grower), and comes from a breed that takes a long time to grow to its full size.
As for the cuts: salami is traditionally made from the whole animal, but the best cuts to use come from the shoulder or the leg. These cuts normally have the right fat-to-meat ratio, and are the muscles of the pig that are the fullest in flavour.
Tip: When cutting and mincing the meat, make sure it stays cold. This will prevent any potential problems like spoilage down the track.
Notes on other ingredients
Salt: the most important ingredient – without it, there is no salami. Natural salt is what you’re after, nothing with any additives.
Curing compound: an additive that kick-starts the curing process. It acts as an anti-oxidant, and helps prevent the growth of bad bacteria that can cause things like botulism.
The right equipment can mean the difference between a good and bad experience for any salami maker. You can purchase a mincer that has a filler attachment, manual or electric, large or small. Go with the equipment that suits the quantities you plan to make – don’t over do it, but don’t under do it either.
Moulds are important to the development of your salami – they can create really good flavour profiles that will set yours apart from your friend’s. Salami moulds, which are white, are from the same family that grow on the outside of Brie and Camembert cheese. Bad moulds are normally blue, green or black. They are not the end of the world – you can clean them with vinegar and hang them again – but if the mould comes back you should look at its hanging environment; it is possible that there is too much moisture in the air. You can reduce this by using dry wood chips on the ground under the salami to help absorb some of the moisture.
You can also use a vacuum sealer to preserve your salami. Vacuum sealers prevent any excess air to get to the salami and preserve them in the state you packed them in until you open the bag.
Mince your meat. (These pictures show us seasoning the meat first, but for smaller quantities you can do this after.)
Add your curing compound and mix thoroughly.
Add the salt and spices and mix really well, creating a sticky, well-bound mixture. This helps create a better bind in the salami later on when you are filling them.
Add the wine.
Fill each salami in your chosen casing to the desired size. The trick to filling salami properly is to fill it tightly, without making any room for air pockets. Encasing the filled salami in tension netting increases the chance of success, because it helps squeeze out any excess air under the skin.
As for the size of the salami: the bigger the diameter, the longer it will take to cure. Obviously the thinner the shorter is also true, but flavour develops over time, so the longer you can leave that salami to hang for, the tastier it is going to be.
Over-hanging can be undesirable as well. You’ll get the gist of this over time, but a sure-fire way to tell if your salami is ready if you’re not sure is to weigh it before you hang it. Monitor the weight over time, and when it has lost up to 40 per cent of its total mass, it’ll be ready. (You can leave it longer if you want something firmer.)
As a rule of thumb: smaller salami (cacciatora) will take between 6-8 weeks to age. Larger sizes (soppressa) will take between 8-12 weeks.
When it’s done, take it down and enjoy!
Tip: Always write down what you did to the batch. This way if you enjoyed it, you can replicate it the next year, or if you thought it needed some minor adjustments you can work out where and why.
For all your salami making equipment and supplies, please visit Home Make It.
This article was first published on June 02, 2016 in Smith Journal