I spent literally all day Saturday working on my first batch of dry-cured salumi. I feel like it takes me a long time when it’s my first time trying something new, since you’re not quite sure what to do and just don’t want to fuck it up. (TWSS.)
It didn’t help that we started at 1pm. I had asked Sous Chef S beforehand if I would be able to complete my project in the shortened amount of prep time, and he said “Of course! It’s easy!” I should have been more specific; sure, it is possible for someone with years of experience in charcuterie to knock out a round of salumi but it was a hell of a push for a newbie who also had other items on her prep list. Sigh.
First though, I set up the immersion circulator so I could let my mortadella poach while I work on other things. Then I sanitized EVERYTHING. My table, my hands, my knives, my scale, the meat grinder parts, the pans and trays I would be placing the meat into, the bowl I was using to collect the measured spices and salts… I swear you could have performed surgery on my station. :)
I followed the recipe closely and had to coordinate with Pastry Girl to borrow her commercial mixer between her 14 batches of pizza dough. Then I had to “borrow” Chef’s assistance to stuff the salumi before I took over weighing, tagging, and hanging. All in all, it’s certainly a PROCESS.
Chef teased that being Asian and educated, I tend to over-think and make things more difficult for myself. He didn’t say it in a malicious way and I think he was just making an observation. He knows that I am my harshest critic, so some things take me longer to do since I worry about making sure they are done right.
I didn’t get much done other than the mortadella and duck salumi during prep. Luckily, even though Chef started out working on Pantry during service, he left by around 7pm and I could spend some time finishing up my prep without his chastising me for not helping the Pantry Boys (though how their inability to handle a slow night of service on their own becomes my problem is beyond my understanding). I sliced salumi, poached potato slices for a salmon terrine, pickled cipollini onions, and made extra deviled egg filling. Most importantly, I felt productive, especially since the other guys were just goofing off.
Oh yeah, Sous Chef J took a great photo of the finished product that Chef presented at the food event. I also heard through the grapevine (ie my blogger friends) that our dish was among the best! Thank goodness they decided to bake the ink doughnuts as brioche buns rather than use the initial version (which, as I may have mentioned, tasted FOUL).
Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone!