July’s Charcutepalooza Challenge: Emulsification

Blended meat and fat, suspended together in tantric harmony. For most people, this cosmic mix should bring us back to a classic childhood memory, decades before I learned what emulsified meat meant. That’s right, you guessed it. None other than the almighty hot dog. Held in the hands of children, hot dogs are remembered by all as a staple at barbeques across the nation. However, if you were raised by a Sicilian step-father that also meant you ate cold cuts like Mortadella. No Oscar Meyer in my fridge, this was the real deal. But, childhood hot dogs taste like crap. And what’s that green stuff in the baloney you’re making me eat? PISTACHIOS? No thanks! I’m a picky kid! So, leaps and bounds more mature than the palate of 7 year old me, bound and determined to up the meat paste’s of my past, I made both. Hot dogs and Mortadella, the July challenge.

It should be said here, in this July and now over half way through this wonderful year of learning Charcuterie and posting about it, that my efforts have not been lonely ones. These successes I have shared with great happiness each month with my dedicated partner in crime, Jake. He totally deserves some face time and recognition for his interest and hard work making all these challenges a reality for us in our home kitchen. Ladies and gents, my partner in crime, my nocturnal assistant, my lovely boyfriend, Jake.

Give credit where credit is due, check. Now back to the assignment. This month, we were to venture into the world of emulsified sausages, making both the hot dogs, and the mortadella.

First the hot dog: Let me tell you, casing emulsified meat is a lot harder than the prior sausages. It’s denser, stickier, full of air pockets that blow out the casings. Frustrating, to say the least. It took a bit of work, but we were able to case the sausages, poach them, and grill them. They made the best hot dogs I’ve ever had. We served them with spicy mustard on huge french rolls, and potato salad studded with pickles, celery seed, mustard seed and coriander. A touch of cayenne and apple cider vinegar rounded it out nicely.

 They were fantastic, and like no other hot dog I’ve had. Smokey, filled with spice, and great texture. Step aside ballpark.

Next up was the mortadella. Now mortadella is like baloney in color, and consistency as well. But it hails from Bologna, and it’s big fat rounds are actually emulsified pork shoulder and fat, studded with tiny diced fat and pistachios. They are stuffed into beef bungs, and believe me, if we could have found them anywhere in the city of Seattle, we would have done just that. However, after many butchers looking at me like I’m crazy, we decided to poach them in plastic.

Mortadella is a lot of work. You have to cut the meat, season it, and grind it. You have to grind the frozen fat as well, and keep them seperate. You have to blanch the fat cubes, as well as the pistachios. Then take the skin off the nuts. While mixing, be very careful to follow the steps and temp your product, so you don’t break your emulsion. Wouldn’t want to get this far only to end up with a break. We did a thorough job of temping and mixing, and came up with a pretty great product.

Mortadella, my step dad would be proud.










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