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[USA] Mortadella by NorCalKid

Posted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 04:55
by NorCal Kid
Here`s a go at making a five-pound batch of Mortadella. My wife loves this stuff, and so after recently make 10-pound of bologna, she asked me to try my skills at making some traditional mortadella. For those unfamiliar with this Italian delicacy, mortadella is a firm, emulsified pork & beef product with visible bits of high-grade white pork fat. Often it also contains black peppercorns and pistachios. Good mortadella is slightly spicy (not hot) with a distinct `good bologna` aroma, and a pleasantly smooth texture. Unlike it`s distant cousin, bologna, mortadella is usually very thinly sliced & served as is-no frying. It makes a great sandwich or simply eaten by itself.

First we need to start with some good meat. - 2 to 1, pork to beef ratio. I`m using a fairly-lean beef chuck and pork loin, with a bit of pork shoulder I had:

Very important to this recipe is the addition of pork back fat. Belly fat is considered not ideal due its softness and ease of rendering, so I was able to pick up a thick slab of the back fat from a local carnicería. I cut a half-pound into 1/4" cubes.
Ratio of meat to fat for this mortadella is 80-85% lean/15-20% fat-so in fact the end result will actually be much leaner than the vast majority of store-bought lunchmeats. Traditionally, mortadella is 70/30 lean to fat; so I`ve trimmed the fat down just a bit.

Here are the list of ingredients I`ll be adding to the ground meat. Although this product is not smoked, the cure adds the traditional color & texture to the final results. The whole peppercorns and whole pistachios (locally-grown!) will be added, along with the fat cubes, prior to stuffing.

Makes approx. five pounds.


Pork Butt/Shoulder 1150g 2.5 lbs
Beef 525g 1.25 lbs
Pork Fat 225g 0.5 lbs

Non-Fat Dry Milk 60g 2 Tbls
Corn Syrup solids 47g 2 Tbls
Coriander; ground 5.0g 2.0 tsp
Mace; ground 1.5g 0.5 tsp
White Pepper; ground 4.5g 1.5 tsp
Garlic powder 5.0g 2.0 tsp
Paprika 2.0g 1.0 tsp
Kosher Salt 35g -----
Allspice 1.0g ------
Cure#1*** 1.8g .25 tsp

Black pepper; whole 4.0g 1.0 tsp
Pistachio Nuts 60g 1/2 cup

NOTE: ***Cure amount is on the low side in this recipe. Cure is added for texture and color ONLY. This sausage is meant to be cooked thoroughly at a higher temp (165°), NOT smoked. If one wishes to smoke it, the cure amount needs to be adjusted per meat weight in the proper proportion (1 level teaspoon of cure should be used for every 5 lbs. of meat)

Divide pork fat into two groups. Cut one group into 1/4" dice.
Chill & set aside for later.
Grind chilled meat & 1/2 of fat through medium plate.
Add salt & cure, mix well then refrigerate for several hours to allow meat to cure.
Add remainder of spices (except whole peppercorns) to meat & blend thoroughly.
Regrind through smaller plate (3.0mm); adding 1/2 cup of ice water if necessary
Add in cubed fat, peppercorns and pistachios; mixing well to disperse ingredients in the meat paste.
Stuff into fibrous casing.
Immediately poach in 165° water until IT of 155° is reached.
Ice-bath to cool down.
Chill very well before slicing thin. serve.

Grind Number One: 4.5mm medium grind to start. I`ll next add the majority of spices:

MIX: Using my Kirby Bucket mixer; meat in and spices added...

Less than a minute later, the meat is well-mixed and ready for a second grind:

2nd GRIND: Using a 3.0mm plate for a fine grind.

Final mix: Adding the last `whole` ingredients to the meat paste- the whole peppercorns, the pistachios, and the fat. I`ll mix this in and let it rest overnight.

Next day it was a nice day outside so I brought the Kirby cannon water-powered stuffer outside to make quick work on this single chub.
Meat-cannon loaded & ready to go:

Using the largest feed tube (41mm). This particular Kirby cannon will hold about 12 pounds packed, so its only about half-full.

A few minutes later, the chub is done.

The "Mini Mort"...

Next step is to get water up to 165 degrees and add the mini mort. I expect this slow-poach will probably take a good 3 hours to reach the desired IT of 155 degrees. time to go watch the game on tv.

After it reached the IT, next is a quick ice-bath. The chub will then rest for a day or so in the fridge to firm up before being sliced.

After resting overnight, the mini mort is WELL-CHILLED and ready to be sliced...

Upon slicing it, I was pleasantly surprised to find a good distribution of all the whole ingredients in the chub. The flavor and texture were great. Thinly sliced, it has a nice somewhat mild flavor with a kick of heat from the peppercorn. Nice crunch from the pistachios, too. My wife said it was quite delicious, and since she's the 'mortadella connoisseur' around here, I'll take that as a success!

Got a portion put in ziploc bags for the fridge, and the rest I'll keep in foodsaver bags that'll keep for quite some time.

Best eaten freshly sliced with some olives, cheese & crusty bread! Good stuff!

- Kevin

Posted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 05:01
That is some of the best looking Mortadella I have seen. I, like your wife, love it.

Posted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 05:32
by Devo
That looks very interesting Kevin. I'm not a big fan of mortadella but I think you could twist my arm to try that :grin:

Posted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 06:02
by ssorllih
Attractive presentation is very important and on this one you get a perfect "A+".

Posted: Fri Jan 20, 2012 06:23
by Chuckwagon
Kevin that's just beautiful! Very clear definition, instructions, and photography, along with clear, precise ingredient list. Most presentable! This one is a blue-ribbon knock-out my friend, just like your others. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and technique. Lots of folks out there will be making better Mortadella thanks to you!

Best Wishes,

Posted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 13:56
by Maz
Well done NorCal I have made the one from Len's site, I just like the visiable bits of fat will give that a try.

Posted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 23:21
by Cabonaia
Hey NorCal, I tried your mortadella recipe. Fantastic! Didn't come out as amazingly good looking as yours (I have a lot to learn) but it pleased me and everyone around here greatly. Instant favorite. Already working on batch #2. Many thanks for your clear instructions and beautiful illustrations.

Shot at 2012-07-17

Things I did differently (not better):
- used table sugar, and cut the amount in half
- used nutmeg because I didn't have mace
- not sure what kind of nonfat milk you have, but I used the grainy kind that you buy in supermarkets, not the superfine stuff
- used pork butt (picked out the leaner pieces)
- made the mistake of mixing all the ingredients, including cure #1 and salt, together at once. So I had to add them all at once, in violation of your recipe. Might be why you got a rosier color than I did?

Things I will do differently next time:
- start poaching early...I waited till 11 PM and had to get up three times in the middle of the night to check the temp, then finally ice bath it at 3:30 AM :shock:
- use my new Kirby bucket mixer...should get here in a couple days.
- try not to screw up on the recipe steps

Cheers, and thanks again for sharing your wisdom,

Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 00:00
by NorCal Kid
Hey Jeff-that mort looks great! So you're happy with the flavor? That's the important thing.
A good mort is awesome!

Regarding the other ingredients you use:
Table sugar(sucrose) vs corn syrup solids- corn syrup is usually higher in fructose & thus sweeter than table sugar. So you could get by with a 1 to 1 ratio substitution on this.
Nutmeg vs Mace: a wash. In this quantity, you'd never know the difference.
NFDM: I used the store-bought variety; plopped it in my spice grinder & made it into a smooth powder before weighing & adding it.
Pork butt vs Pork loin: fat=flavor, so no harm done.

Re: Early morning poaching- It does take a while to poach a large chub. I've learned best to start it early in the day. I've done enough late-night, early morning baby-sitting of chubs now to know better. :mrgreen:


Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 00:43
by Cabonaia
Kevin - yes, the taste is the thing! It tastes fantastic and for now I don't feel like making a single tweak. I can't stay away from it. Just ground the meat for my next mort and it is curing in the fridge. :mrgreen:

I do have some questions:
- I like the color you got. Does this have anything to do with how long you let it cure before the final grind/emulsification and stuffing? Or could it be because you used loin, which has a lighter color than butt? Or both?
- How do you mix in the salt and cure? By hand, or in your mixer?
- How do you mix in your fat cubes and pistachios?
- Do you add water? I iced up the drippings from the thawed meat and added it while mixing, but that's all.

Sorry for all the questions...but I love getting expert advice. :razz:

Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 04:11
by NorCal Kid
Cabonaia wrote:I do have some questions:
- I like the color you got. Does this have anything to do with how long you let it cure before the final grind/emulsification and stuffing? Or could it be because you used loin, which has a lighter color than butt? Or both?
As I recall, once I had EVERYTHING stuffed (including fat & nuts), I gave it a good overnight rest in the fridge. I did use very lean beef & leaner-than-normal pork, so the cure may have had more to work with in turning the mixture a stronger 'pink.'
Cabonaia wrote:How do you mix in the salt and cure? By hand, or in your mixer?
All spices (salt & cure) were mixed in the kirby mixture. The fat, peppercorns and nuts were mixed in by hand. I didnt want to 'smear ' the fat by overmixing in the Kirby.
I added at least 1/2 a cup to a cup of ice water during the intial mix to ensure a nice sticky, cohesive paste. NOW this did create a more difficult job in sending the sticky mass through the grinder again with the fine plate attached for the SECOND grind. In fact it was a pain. But doing this step with the grinder was still easier and faster than using a processor to get a fine emulsion.


Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 04:38
by JerBear
Both of you guys made a fine lookin' chub o' meat. Hats off to you!

Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 04:50
by Cabonaia
Thank you kindly NorCal for your great advice - just in time! And JB for the chubokudos! I love this forum. Onward!

Posted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 21:30
by gurkanyeniceri
We were at the breakfast table and my wife said, why don't you make something like a mortadella, and I am like "yeeehaaaaa I have the permission to buy more things for sausage making".

So I searched the forum and found this recipe. Throw in 1.7 Kg of chux untrimmed, 225g of beef back fat and started grinding. This is a fully halal version of it. I have also added pitted and capsicum stuffed green olives.

When I finished cooking and chilling and served it in a breakfast table, my wife was over the moon. This is the taste we were missing as we are living away from home land.

I have ordered more casings, hog clipper etc to make more of it.

Sorry there are no pictures as it went so quickly with my hungry two kids. But promise I will take some photos next time, for your eyes only.

Thank you NorCal Kid for the recipe.

Posted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 22:35
by Cabonaia
Gurkan - It is a great recipe and I am still making it - has become a favorite at our house. When I serve it to guests I cut it into cubes. Looks very nice that way, and they always ask, "what is this wonderful stuff??" I say, "Mortadella," and they never guess that it's pretty much bologna done right. :mrgreen:

I would like to see pictures of your mort with olives and pimentos/capsicum, next time you make it, as I've been meaning to try that.

If you like this recipe, you should try salami cotto as well. Mortadella pointed me in that direction. Len Poli's site has a good recipe, but I would recommend increasing the salt to the levels used in NorCal's mortadella recipe.


Posted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 02:57
by Blackriver
Great work guys! Thanks for posting your recipe, pictures and recipe Kevin! I always enjoy reading your posts!