Finocchiona

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Finocchiona

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Tuscany provides a handy share of elite products. It doesn’t hurt that they’re finely advertised, of course, but one has to admit: it is a land where the earth itself is bountiful to those, who care to ask or to look.

Finocchiona belongs to the category of these gifts that Tuscany bestowed upon the world. There is a well-known story about a thief who stole few salamis and, to evade his pursuers, hid them in the field of wild fennel. Upon returning to the spot after one week, he discovered that those sausages developed irresistible aroma and decided to open his own salumi shop.

The myth, of course, is always fully functional. As Aristotle taught us, literature is always truer than history. Finocchiona as we know it appeared in Renaissance as Tuscany’s answer to European fascination with the spices from the Orient. You equate the price of black paper with the weight of gold? We’ll just put the seeds of that wild herb that grows everywhere and get ourselves some pretty tasty sausages…Why should a spice of India top the herb of Tuscany?

The following recipe not only corresponds to the prescriptions of “Disciplinary” as much as it is possible in the non-Tuscan settings, but has been tasted number of times by the author and those who followed his steps in making Finocchiona. Moreover, it has become almost a family tradition. I typically make one shortly after the Anniversary of my wife’s not that wise decision to say “yes” to my proposal to the life-long journey gother.  After 5-6 month of dry-curing, it gets sliced for the first time on Easter. Utilizing the largest beef bung available in USA in combination with this length of curing almost inevitably result in a slight case hardening.  It’s nothing that cannot be fixed by few weeks of equilibration in vacuum sealed bag. I’d advise to remove the casing after the curing done and keep the sausages vacuum sealed. They become only better with time.

Also for this large diameter Finocchiona, I recommend using combination of fennel seeds and pollen.  The“Disciplinary” allows both. Currently I’m using Fiore di Finocchio fennel pollen from Poppi, Italy.  In short and long-term, they play out differently and, combined, create a much greater complexity. As for the best ratio of seeds vs. pollen, I haven’t found the most suitable one simply because it’s hard to compare sausages that have one year of age between them. Of course, the brilliant idea of making few sausages with different content at the same time has not entered my mind…

Start with decent pork. It should come from the animal that was at least 9 month old at the time of slaughter. Semi-fat pork ( I typically use Boston Butt without the neck ) :90%, back-fat  (typically diced to cubes, proportioned to the diameter to the size of my monster finocchiona): 10%.

Cubed shoulder gets covered with 2.5% sea salt; 0.25% cure#2; 0.5% sugar and goes to fridge for a day. Then it goes through 8 (6 will work, 10 would be even better) mm plate on grinder. Next, add 0.3% BP; 0.3% combination of Fennel Pollen and Seeds (seeds should be roosted and cooled);T-SPX cultures; 0.1% garlic and as much Chianti as needed for the forcemeat to “feel right.”

Then,  let it rest for a day in fridge before staffing  into large beef bungs and sending to fermentation for almost three days. Weight before fermentation is typically around 8kg. Adding  Mold-600 is optional. Due to the relatively high amount of fat, after six-seven month of aging in the Curing Chamber, the weight loss is around 40%. The finocchiona is typically soft and highly aromatic. As stated above, the taste only improves with time.

 

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18th Anniversary Salami
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Pork neck en sous-vide
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18th Anniversary Salami
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Pork neck en sous-vide

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