In fact, I’ve gotten very good at it. I’m not quite a master at failure yet, but I am fairly inventive on that pathway. My exploration of charcuterie has provided numerous opportunities for failure!
For instance, I made two recipes last week that I wanted to smoke. The first was Tasso, and the second was Grav Lachs. Tasso is normally a hot smoked, dry brined pork product used in making a variety of southern dishes. Red beans and Rice, here I come! Grav Lachs is a dry brined Salmon product that is normally not smoked, but I wanted to try to cold smoke it.
Both of these products are delicious when made right. Then there is the way I made them. (Sadness) I need to gain some insight in the dry curing (dry brining) process. The Tasso and the salmon were both far too salty. I think it is really a matter of learning when a direction is critical, and when a direction has more leeway.
There was no excuse for failure on the Tasso. I had made this several times before in the same manner. I have lost the written instructions, but I still have videos of me making this product from several years ago. It was an error of laziness. I probably left he pork in the dry cure for too long. I may be able to partially fix this, but I can’t fix the smoking. My Tasso, which is derived from a recipe I saw on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives wasn’t smoked at all. However, I wanted to try cold smoking it, but my smoker wouldn’t produce smoke at 100F. It is supposed to according to the manual, but it doesn’t. So it was smoked at temperatures ranging from 130F to 170F.
As I wrote, I think it can be fixed. I might be able to leach much of the salt out by soaking it in water. I just hope the other flavorings don’t leach out as well. Or I could just use the stuff in Red Beans and Rice, or Jambalaya, and not add any additional salt to the recipe.
Then there was the Grav Lachs. Here is another recipe I’ve made before. Normally, I don’t smoke it, but I thought a light smoke would taste really good. This was the first thing that I tried to cold smoke. In fact, this was in the smoker only a few minutes before the Tasso. I wasn’t yet aware that my plans were not going to work out as intended. As can be seen in the photo, my Grav Lachs does not slice. It shatters. This one I can’t fix. But I can use it imaginatively! I can see it being mixed with cream cheese to be spread on bagels or toast. I can also see using it with egg yolks to make an interesting Deviled Egg.
Making mistakes is just part of learning. But for every pretty horrid mistake, there is also a success! I more often than not make really tasty meals for my family. And for every mistake is the possibility of finding something new and maybe even wonderful. I have also made some pretty darned good examples of Charcuterie since I have been exploring this topic. I will show them off on my next blog post: Lamb and Smoked Chicken Terrine, and Pheasant Rillettes.