Headcheese Help

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Headcheese Help

Post by Rick » Tue Sep 30, 2014 21:38

I followed Rytek's recipe for his 10# headcheese recipe. I also did the meat cure using the 2 1/2 gal. of water, 2 1/2 lbs. salt, 12 oz. cane sugar and 4 oz. cure. Heated this all up to dissolve the ingredients and let it cool in the fridge til the next day before putting the meat in for 3 days.

I followed the 10# recipe except I used 4 1/2 oz. of salt, rather than 5 oz.

The finished product was way too salty!

I followed his recipe by simmering the tongues and snouts in a big stock pot for several hours. Drained off the water and put the meat in the fridge til the next day, at which time I diced the meat up into small cubes. I then sprinkled the spices and 4 1/2 oz. of salt over the diced meat and mixed it by hand. The next day I stuffed it and poured in the gelatin. Let it set-up over night and tried it today.

So I'm looking for some help on reducing the saltiness of the finished product. Did I brine too long? I made sure the brine was cold before putting the meat in so it wouldn't suck up all the salt. I'm at a loss at the present time. I'm thinking my brine is suspect.

Your comments would be appreciated.
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Post by Butterbean » Tue Sep 30, 2014 21:48

Did you rinse the meat with water after brining? I always find it best to rinse the brined meat and let it soak for a spell before doing anything further with it.
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Post by Charcuteryan » Tue Sep 30, 2014 21:55

Ive never made it but 2 1/2 lbs seems like a lot to me. Maybe use more water when you boil the meat. He doesnt specify how much, he just says "sufficient amount"
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Post by Rick » Tue Sep 30, 2014 21:56

Butterbean, no rinse or soak. I just placed the meat in a large stock pot filled with cold water.
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Post by Rick » Tue Sep 30, 2014 22:32

I was doing some reading on the forum here and someone mentioned CW's 25° SAL solution, which I haven't a clue as to what this is or used for. This whole brine + cure thing really seems to be a complete mystery to me. For those of us who do watch salt intake, or don't like salty food, is there a recipe or formula to making a brine with the minimum amount of salt and cure?

Perhaps there is a way to add a specific amount of the pink cure to my simmering pot of water and meat rather than soaking the meat in a brine solution for 3-5 days. If adding the cure to the simmering water is acceptable, maybe that's the way to go.

Pretty disappointed in the outcome of the headcheese, but as they say, no education is free!

In going back over the Rytek recipe, there does seem to be a large amount of salt called for. 2 1/2 lbs. in the brine and 5 oz. as one of the ingredients.

This is a head scratcher at the moment!
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Post by Bob K » Tue Sep 30, 2014 23:22

You can find the brine table and other info here:
http://wedlinydomowe.pl/en/viewtopic.php?t=4830
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Post by Butterbean » Tue Sep 30, 2014 23:54

Brining is an art as much as a science. You will see all sorts of brine strengths and each requires a different time table. To make life much simpler I would suggest finding a brine strength that you like. Make some stuff with it. Make some corned beef, shoulder ham, bacon and stuff like that and get a feel for the time it takes to brine a certain sized piece of meat and keep some notes. Then always go with what you know. Keep it simple. Brine strengths are like opinions, everyone has their opinion and there is no right or wrong one. The important thing is to learn your brine and always use the one you like. And ALWAYS rinse and soak the meat to get the brine off.

If you do this, your life will be so much easier and you will see the beauty of brining.
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Post by Rick » Wed Oct 01, 2014 01:09

Okay, I found a chart here: http://www.meatsandsausag...ng/making-brine

In looking at the Rytek headcheese recipe, his brine works out to 1 lb. salt per 1 gal. water or about 40 1/2 degrees.

The brine chart towards the bottom says at 25° SAL for chicken, and to brine over night. Lets remember that even though the recipe calls for 5 lbs. of pork tongues, an individual tongue only weighs about 14-16 oz. So I'd think the 25° SAL with an over night soak would be all that's needed. I can see where the 40 1/2° SAL Rytek calls for and a soak of 3-5 days for that 14-16 oz. tongue is going to make it way salty. The same goes for the snouts which are lighter yet than the tongues.

Now isn't the whole idea behind this cure thing to make the meat stay pink in the end product? I forget who it was that said he was able to accomplish this by adding 4 oz. of cure to his kettle of water when simmering the tongues and snouts, thus not having to do the curing for days. If I could get by with adding cure to my simmering water and not having to do the brine for days thing, well that's the way I want to go.

So for you headcheese experts, is my thinking flawed, am I over looking something? Frankly, I'm not all that concerned with a good looking product as much as I am a great tasting product. So what if the meat isn't red, if it tastes great!
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Post by Butterbean » Wed Oct 01, 2014 02:24

You could do without the cure completely. Many ways to skin a cat and like you say, the end result is what you are concerned with.

Personally I would want to repeat everything again to see where the problem was. I think you learn more that way. I would however rinse and soak the meat after the brine and sample some meat after its cooked before adding any more salt.
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Post by Cabonaia » Wed Oct 01, 2014 06:54

Hi Rick - when I make head cheese I don't measure the salt. Instead I salt the broth until it tastes the way I like it, starting out less salty and adjusting after it's boiled down. I haven't used cure in head cheese yet. It seems to me you could put the cure (measured to the volume you will boil down to) in the pot along with salt to taste, bring it to a boil and cook the meat, then refrigerate it overnight. This would give the cure time to penetrate the meat and give it color.

Has anyone tried using cure this way?

Butterbean's suggestion for tasting the meat (cooked) after it's cured, and soaking if it's too salty, also makes sense.

Jeff
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Post by redzed » Wed Oct 01, 2014 07:35

Rick, the brine in Rytek's recipe is the standard strength of 40 degrees. And I guess Rytek forgot to mention that you should rinse the meat after brining. Polish recipes specify that you soak the heads in running cold water for 15 minutes. So maybe that was the problem. And I certainly would not have added any salt to the water used for poaching. .

The first few times I made headcheese I cured the meat first, but now I just prepare the broth to my liking as does Jeff, being careful not to over salt it. That way I can still add more salt if necessary when adding the broth to the cooked meat. And I add only two tablespoons of cure #1 to the broth. That is more than enough to give the meat that pink colour and enhance the flavour a wee bit. If using tongues it is a good idea to make a deep cut on the underside to allow the cure better penetration.

Oh, and one more point. When preparing a brine and heating it to dissolve the salt and draw flavour from spices, add the nitrite after the brine has cooled. The strength and efficacy of the nitrite is significantly lessened by the heating/cooking process.

Hey, live and learn! I don't know how many times I messed up before arriving at something that was to my liking. Just think of the fun you had cooking that head!
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Post by Rick » Wed Oct 01, 2014 10:10

redzed, Jeff and butterbean, the salting of the broth makes complete sense. As redzed stated, he only adds 2 T. of cure #1 to the broth water which is enough to keep the meat red. This is the way I'll go with the whole idea of using the cure.

So let me see if I've got this right. You pretty much salt and cure the broth water before boiling the meat. Once the meat is cooked, you strain the meat from the broth to cool over night and reserve the broth for the gelatin.

Here comes the big question, after a night in the fridge, you cube your meat and then add in your spices before stuffing. Rytek instructs to add 5 oz. of salt along with the spices. If one salted the broth to taste, why go to all that trouble if only in the end you're dumping 5 oz. of salt onto the meat?

I think I'm for salting the broth to taste, and going without the brine soak and the added 5 oz. of salt at the end as stated in the Rytek ingredients list. Maybe just a salting to taste, but that five ounces seems a lot to be dumping onto the meat and negates all the concern I've had for the salt content to this point .
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Post by Cabonaia » Wed Oct 01, 2014 15:04

Rick - If the meat and broth taste as salty as you like them, don't add more salt no matter what any recipe says. You've nailed it and you're going to like the result in the finish product.

Red - I never knew that heat lessened the strength of nitrite. Thanks for that info. And good idea about making a slit in the bottom of the tongues.

When you say you would not add salt to the poaching liquid, I think you mean the liquid the stuffed head cheese will be poached in, not the water the meats will be poached in prior to stuffing, correct? I have found after making many stocks that I prefer to add some salt to water I boil meat in. If I add all the salt at the end, the meat itself comes out bland unless it gets a lot more time in the broth. So I follow this method when poaching meats for head cheese.
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Post by redzed » Wed Oct 01, 2014 16:43

Cabonaia wrote:When you say you would not add salt to the poaching liquid, I think you mean the liquid the stuffed head cheese will be poached in, not the water the meats will be poached in prior to stuffing, correct? I have found after making many stocks that I prefer to add some salt to water I boil meat in. If I add all the salt at the end, the meat itself comes out bland unless it gets a lot more time in the broth. So I follow this method when poaching meats for head cheese
Jeff, I did not say that I don't add salt to the poaching broth, I said I don't over salt it. In other words, I'm careful with the amount of salt I add, especially since I always reduce the broth after straining it and adding to the cooked meat. That way I have better control of the saltiness of the product. And of course I go one step further after filling the casing: pig's stomach, beef bung or artificial. I poach the head cheese for a further 90 minutes at around 170-180F. That way the meat, broth, seasonings and any additional salt all come together in perfect harmony!

I hope to make some head cheese in a few days, using beef tongues, pork feet (for the gelatin) and will substitute the beef head with some chuck and the pork head with picnic meat, and stuffing into beef bungs.
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Post by Rick » Wed Oct 01, 2014 18:07

Okay I'm with you on the salt finally!

Now I'm not sure I'm with you on the poaching though. So on day 2, I've got cooled cooked meat in the fridge along with my strained liquid the meat was cooked in (broth) which has now hardened into a gel.

Now I'm thinking I proceed with cubing the meat, which when done, I add the spices and mix the meat and spices well.

Now comes the tricky part. Do you return your meat to the fridge to let it meld with the spices?

So now you've got your spiced meat and gel. For a 10# chub, I'm thinking that you would have to have about a quart plus of reheated gel, getting it back into the liquid state.

So you've got a meat lug of cubed spiced meat and a pitcher of hot liquid gel which you do what with?
Do you pour the hot liquid gel over the cubed meat and let it sit for an hour or so? If you do this, you'll be washing the spice off the meat and it will end up in the gel around the meat. Then do you ladle the meat and liquid together into the casing?
-OR-
Do you pack your casing with the cubed meat and pour in some liquid gel as your packing? This is the process I used and the gel didn't get into all the nooks and crannies, which resulted in slices that didn't hold together. I think the ladle process might work better.

Okay so once the casing is full and sealed now what? Why poach already cooked meat and gel that is in a liquid state inside the casing?

Maybe return the sealed casing to the fridge to allow the liquid gel to solidify once again around the cooked meat before slicing?
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