“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”
– Jimmy Dean, country singer, actor, businessman
Buenos Aires – Those of us from the U.S. recognize the name Jimmy Dean from the sausage brand. What many people probably don’t know (I certainly didn’t) is that prior to founding his sausage company in 1969 (was it only then? I thought Jimmy Dean sausages were around when I was a kid… hmmm…), he was a star country singer, and a television and film actor (not to be confused with film actor James Dean). And that’s how he comes to be tangent of conversation in this post, as I was searching for some connection between sausages and James Bond after I came up with the post’s title, and turns out that he starred in one James Bond film – as business tycoon Willard Whyte in the 1971 film Diamonds are Forever. Internet serendipity is a wonderful thing.
You might have thought that I’d stopped making sausages and such after my first flurry of posts on fresh chorizos, cured chorizos, merguez and summer sausages. But no, I’ve continued to make some of those and do a little experimenting, and there will be more, however, one of the last things we learned to make in class was the genre of long-cured meats, a process that can be used with pork, beef, lamb well, meat. A very popular one here, and the one that Hector chose to be our home practice, is the cured bondiola. Now, bondiola is the cut of meat, that’s more or less a neck and high shoulder cut, on a pig what in the U.S. we call a Boston Butt. It’s a cut that lends itself well to long, slow cooking, and that’s common here, where braised bondiola appears on many a menu. It’s also served up thinly sliced and charred on the grill in bondipan sandwiches, usually squirted with a bit of lemon and sprinkled with salt. It’s also a very popular cured meat, and can be found on pretty much any fiambre (meat and cheese) platter.
We started with a roughly 1.5 kilo (3-3½ pound) bondiola, trimmed it up a bit, rolled it tightly and tied it, then put it in a curing net.
From there, it spent roughly a day and a half (24 hours per kilo) submerged, completely, in a simple salt brine at a cool temperature. After that, we rinsed it, then put it on a rack in a pan in the refrigerator for two days, turning it regular, to let it dry out a bit.
Now, traditionally, it would then be cold-smoked. We’re just simply not setup to do that, so instead, brushed it with a liquid smoke solution. Not the cheap stuff you see in the supermarket that’s made with various chemicals, but the pricey stuff that’s simply water that’s had smoke bubbled through it until it’s strongly flavored. Then, hung it up in the same place I’ve been curing sausages, on our small kitchen patio, where it could stay cool, and relatively humid (I still spritzed it lightly once a day with a mist of water).
After 15 days, it had shrunk up a bit, darkened in color, and it was time for another coating of liquid smoke solution. Hmmm… I’ll have to ask, I wonder if you’ve actually gone to the effort of cold-smoking if you need to re-smoke it. My guess is no, but worth checking out.
It was then left for another month hanging (I flipped it over and hung it from opposite ends about every 4-5 days, just to make sure than internal juices stayed properly distributed and that it hung more or less straight. I’m not sure that was necessary, but it made me feel like I was an active participant beyond misting. At the end of the month it’s even darker and more shrunken. But there, fascinating, cut open, and the meat inside, firmly cured, and still as bright red as it was at the start. For my tastes, this came out a bit too salty, but then, I usually find cured bondiola a little too salty, so perhaps it’s simply the style here. Another thing to check out I guess, by how much can I cut the brining time without risking bacterial problems.