Today we are tackling Mortadella. This charcuterie is an emulsified sausage that carries with it some very technical challenges. In this post I’ll share with you all the tips and tricks so you can increase your chance of success.
The first thing we need to understand about emulsified sausages is the relationship between myocin (the protein extracted from meat), fat, and water. Myocin will bridge the gap between the water holding properties and fat emulsification. In order for us to have a stable emulsion there needs to be enough myocin to surround the fat particles present. If we can achieve this a stable bond will occur leaving us with a silky smooth mortadella with an incredible texture.
How do we extract the myocin?
Salt plays a large role in protein extraction. 2% – 3% added salt will allow for maximum myocin extraction. With this in mind we also need to consider the saltiness of our end product. I have personally found that 3% salt is a little on the salty side for my tastes. For this recipe we will be going with a 2.25% salt content.
Temperature is another key factor in protein extraction. The optimal temperature for maximum protein extraction is between 35F – 38F. For this reason we will be chopping our meat (along with the salt and cure) first.
What’s the best way to make an emulsified sausage
There are a few techniques that you can use make an emulsified sausage. The first (which happens to be the easiest) is to use a kitchen aid stand mixer. This is the preferred method for home producers of charcuterie because it’s a little more forgiving and although it’s technically not an emulsified sausage it’s about the closest thing to it (without all the fuss). If you plan on using this method then you will grind your meat and fat together 4 times. Start with a 6mm plate, next 4.5mm, then twice on a 3mm plate. Place your very cold (32F – 34F) ground meat along with your seasonings into your kitchen aid. Turn it on a medium/high and begin to mix. You’ll want to check the temperature along the way. We use a Thermapen by Thermaworks as it’s fast and accurate. As you mix you’ll want to keep the mince between 35F – 39F. You can achieve this by adding crushed ice to the mix or a little ice cold water. After a few minutes of mixing your meat batter should look smooth with very no discernable fat particles floating around. Turn off your stand mixer off and proceed with your recipe.
The other way you can make this happen at home is by using a food processor. This method will produce a finer texture (similar to store bought products) but carries with it several challenges. The first challenge is the condition of your blades. They need to be sharp!! If they are dull you will “whip” your batter creating a fluffy mousse type product with a very pillowy texture. The other challenge is temperature. If you use this method you’ll have to really keep an eye on the temperature. The friction of the blades will raise the temperature of your batter very fast. With that in mind let me explain how to do this technique.
Start by grinding your meat and fat separate. I generally grind mine twice. Once on a 6mm and then on a 3mm plate. Add the very cold lean meat (along with all your salt and cure) to your food processor. Chop for a few minutes trying to keep the temperature between 35F and 39F adding a little ice about half way through the mixing. Once you have a smooth batter add the cold ground fat along with the rest of your seasonings and chop till your temperature reached 57F. Here you will add the rest of your ice to ensure that your mix stays cold. Once you hit 57F you can proceed with the recipe.
Should you use a binder in your recipe?
The use of a binder is completely optional but highly recommended (especially in emulsified sausages). Binders serve several purpose when making emulsified sausages. Primarily they can help stabilize the emulsion. They have great water holding capacity allowing you to add more water to your sausage meat. This really helps to keep your sausage juicy. Finally they improve the overall texture of your sausage. I personally like to use potato starch but if you can’t get potato starch you can also use Non flavored gelatin, Non Fat Dry Powder Milk, Soy Protein Concentrate, or even Carrot fiber. I generally add between 2% and 5% to my recipe.
Why do you blanch certain ingredients?
When making mortadella you will notice that a lot of recipes (including mine) call for blanched ingredients towards the end of the process. Blanching the ingredients (fat, pistachios, pepper corn, olives, peppers) serve a dual purpose. Color and texture preservation To blanch these ingredients simply bring a small pot of water to a boil. Place the ingredients in the boiling water and boil them for 3 minutes. Immediately remove them from the boiling water and place them in an ice bath to cool. Once cool, remove them from the water and place the blanched ingredients on a tray to dry out. If you want to help your solid ingredients stick to the mince meat give them a light dusting of potato starch just prior to mixing it in the farce.
Overall this sausage is a joy to make. It does require some patience, skill, and a love for the finer things. If you don’t nail it on your first try don’t get too discouraged. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who successfully made emulsified sausages on their first time. Hopefully with these instructions we can change that with you!!! If you make this be sure to leave me a comment and let me know how it came out..
Here are a few things we used in this recipe
- Pepper Crusted Casing
- Potato Starch
- Insta Cure #1
- Bella’s Cold Smoke Generator
- Sausage Stuffers
- Meat Grinders
If you want to see the different things that we use in operation our be sure to check out our new Amazon Store.
If you are making sausage adjust the servings to reflect the total weight of your meat and fat
- 4 g whole peppercorns
- 25 g pistachios
- 25 g olives
- Dice backfat into small cubes and blanch for 3 minutes
- Grind the lean pork and the fat separately twice. First time through a 6 mm plate, partially refreeze then grind again through a 3 mm plate.
- Mix the salt and the cure in with the ground lean pork and place in your food processor. Chop for 3 minutes adding half the chilled wine. Try to keep the temperature between 35-39F
- After meat has ben chopped add the fat and the rest of your seasonings. Emulsify in your food processor. Add the rest of the wine and the ice water while chopping. Chop till the temperature reaches 57F.
- Dust your whole ingredients (blanched fat, pistachios, etc.) with potato starch to help them adhere better to the meat.
- Mix your meat batter with whatever whole ingredients you plan on adding (cubed fat, pistachios, etc.)
- Stuff into your casings and let rest in the fridge over night.
- If you plan on smoking your mortadella then smoke low and slow. Start at 110F and slowly work the temp up to 175F (over a 10 hour period) until the internal temp reaches 150F
- If you plan on poaching then place the mortadella in 176F water and cook till the internal temp reaches 155F.
- After it's cooks cool it down in an ice water bath and refrigerate overnight. Enjoy
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