Our adventure with aspiring to make salumi at home started with the magazine Lucky Peach, which included a recipe for mortadella. For weeks Mrs. Monkeyshines babbled about making mortadella and read and re-read the recipe, but somehow we just weren't ready to commit an entire weekend day to putting it together.
Finally, the day came when we were ready to make it happen. So what did we do? Sort of follow the Lucky Peach recipe and also the recipe in Salumi as we saw fit. I know, great idea to not follow the recipe on something you’ve never made before, but that’s how things happen here…
Unlike the capicola, we didn’t go the heritage breed route. Since the mortadella is cooked right away, it didn’t seem as urgent to pay for the good stuff. We cheated on our regular butcher and went to a local Asian market. (Sorry Guerras!) They had chunks of lean pork marked ‘Pork Chowder’. We think they meant ‘Pork Shoulder’ but Mrs. Monkeyshines asked for '”pork chowder” so as not to rock the boat. The nice man behind the counter looked at her as if she were insane.
Anyway, the results were surprisingly good. Next time we’ll add a more salt, but the sausage was really quite tasty and (relatively) simple. In other words, there will be a next time. The homemade version is less fatty than the store-bought kind and doesn’t leave that icky greasy feeling in the mouth.
Here is the recipe for our version:
3 lb lean pork shoulder
2 lb pork belly or pork back fat if you can get it
1 Tbsp coriander seed
1 Tbsp nutmeg
1 tsp bay leaf, dried
9 grams curing salt
9 grams regular salt (we suggest using more, maybe 18 grams, but haven’t tried it)
6 oz white wine
10 oz crushed ice + a bunch more ice for sundry ice baths
1 1/2 Tbsp coarsely cracked black pepper
1 1/4 cups whole pistachios
1 beef middle or plastic wrap or other casing material.
- Cut the pork shoulder into 1 1/2 inch cubes and trim off any extraneous fat and sinew
our pork shoulder and pork belly, ready for turning into mortadella!
- Remove skin from pork belly, if present, and cut 8 oz of it into 1/4 inch dice, the rest into 1 1/2 inch cubes. Place the large cubes in a big bowl with the meat and refrigerate while you get the rest of the ingredients together.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch the small cubes of belly for 3 minutes, then cool down in an ice bath. Refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.
- Toast the coriander seed, then grind to a powder. Similarly grind your dried bay leaves (If you only have fresh leaves, you can dry them in the microwave on medium power for 3-4 minutes. it works great!)
- Add the salt and spices (except for the peppercorns) and the wine to the bowl of pork chunks.
- Grind the meat and spices using the coarse disc of your meat grinder.
- Bring a small pot of water to a simmer – you’ll use it in step 9.
- In a food processor, blend the meat and crushed ice in batches until it is as smooth a paste as you can get it. This took us four batches (apportion the ice equally in each of the batches). Refrigerate while you prepare a sample in the next step.
- Wrap a half-cup or so of the meat in plastic wrap to make a small sausage and poach in the pot of water until cooked – 4-5 minutes. Do enough that you can take a few bites and really assess the flavor. Cool completely before tasting, then adjust seasoning as needed.
- Stir the small fat cubes, pistachios and the peppercorns into your meat puree until evenly distributed.
- Bring water in a very large pot to a near boil – about 200 degrees F. You’re going to poach your mortadella at 170 degrees, but adding the meat will cool down the pot, so we shoot a little high at this step.
- Stuff the sausage meat into your casing. We used plastic wrap, and rolled a third of the mix as tightly and evenly as we could into a compact log about 3 inches in diameter and about 8 inches long. We then rolled it in a second layer of plastic to try to prevent water from getting in and tied off the ends with string. Repeat for the other two thirds of the mix or make whatever size of mortadella appeals to you.
- Poach the sausages at 170 degrees F for approximately 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees.
- Cool the sausages in an ice bath and refrigerate. We’re told they’ll keep 2-3 weeks, but don’t yet have experience on that front.
Slice and enjoy!