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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Chicken nuggets, sausages, ham, frankfurts, deli meats... they all have this common thing going on with them.
They're moist, juicy, and there's this bounce or springiness to them. In the case of chicken products in particular, the meat doesn't feel like meat. It doesn't go tough, it doesn't harden (as much) when it goes cold, doesn't get chewy, doesn't dry out, and doesn't turn into stringy rubber.

What's causing this? Originally, I thought it was the nasties from the curing salt like your nitrites and nitrates, but these are supposed to give off a pinkish hue so that can't be it in the case of processed chicken meats, which remain completely white.

Can someone walk me through the process and whether it is possible to replicate this texture at home without the use of harmful preservatives/chemicals? Not trying to make meat last for months - I just wanted to replicate the texture.

Cheers all!
RookieT
 

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I'm sure someone will chime in.
Just wanted to say that nitrite is used in bacon and other cured products to kill any chance of botulism. This has basically been done for centuries as in olden times salpetre was used (nitrate) and that worked by the conversion of nitrate into nitrite.
 

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Some of it is myocin activation. You see this in sausage, Chinese dumplings, fishballs and such. Basically you mix the meat until it starts to form small strings or peaks, the meat gets stickier during this process too.

For sausage, they often add a "binder", additional protein, usually dry milk powder, but there are others.

And extra liquid is a very common addition too.

In the video below you'll see most of these ideas developed in different ways.

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Basically you mix the meat until it starts to form small strings or peaks, the meat gets stickier during this process too.
Ah yes, I'm familiar with this process. We call it something that loosely translates to "form into glue" in cantonese.

However, how does this process apply to deli meats, where the product are sometimes intact pieces of meat like chicken or turkey breast? This was not mince meat that was beaten down into a pulp and reshaped back into the same original looking fibres, yet it still achieves the same springiness and moistness as ham (which also isn't mince beaten into a pulp). I can only guess that it's something to do with brine, however I guess my question is what's IN the brine (besides the salt, sugar and aromatics) that causes this result?
 

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Myotin development is most of it as the cheapskates don't want to pay for anything else to add to it.

Farce-meat is just an emulsion of fat, water, and protein. The fat is bound inside the water by protein. There are inverse emulsions (water in fat) but this isn't one of those. Everything is kept on the verge of freezing while emulsifying.

Myotin development occurs with colder temperatures, salt, water and agitation. But be careful because "fat smear" can happen from over agitating the mixtures....preventing or breaking the emulsion.

The man who invented McDonald's chicken nugget back in the late 70's was an instructor at the CIA....and basically it is just chicken skin bound up, battered, and deep fried because at the time they thought that the meat pumped full of MSG after bleaching (dark meat is turned light after bleaching it with food grade meat bleach) was too tasteless to be good enough.
They wanted more flavor....
So he used chicken skin only....which they loved because it was basically leftover garbage from the processing houses that they could get cheaper than actual chicken meat and they liked the flavor better.
And the McNugget was born.

There is a chemical that is used in deli meats....meat glue. It tastes a bit like mild almonds but we don't use much. Sprinkled on ends of lamb racks to make a crown rack of lamb....but it too is a protein that will bind two pieces of meat when necessary. Usually they use "filler" to bind which is basically similar to hot dog meat in and around the muscles they put into a bag, casing, or cheesecloth before it's smoked and or just cooked. It glues the muscles together... The "roasted" turkey or chicken meats? Food grade dye/paint gives a nice brown....same as what's on McDonald's sausage patties in their egg McMuffin.

Sausage making without binder (soy protein or a protein from carrots) is an art....an essential skill that if you master it can produce wonderful results not commonly sold in the marketplace. Spicey apple/ginger sausages and etc....up to you as to whether you use or abuse the skill.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hi JohnDB, thanks so much for chiming in. Wow, you seem to be very familiar with the chemistry and history behind it.
To clarify my question, some of these deli meats that I'm referring to are whole JOINTS of meat that is sliced (grains of meat observable and all), and this is what I'm most interested in replicating. I understand that the process of myotin development works by agitating minced meat, so I don't think it could be that.

Example is: I could buy "roast beef" from the deli, which are slices of the cheapest cuts available, like topside or silverside, and made completely well done. These cuts are tough as, but even if I roast a rib eye to the same effect, and I made thin slices of it, and gave both this and the deli beef to my 4 yr old kid on a plate with a fork and knife, he's going to find that he can cut the deli meat easily, but will have difficulty sawing through my rib eye slices. The deli meat would be like wet paper towels that tears apart more easily than an ordinarily roasted beef that would be a dry paper towel in this analogy, where the fibres aren't expanded and are less willing to tear apart. Sorry, not sure how to describe this to be honest.

Another observation comparing the deli beef (and chicken) to regular roasted beef (and chicken) is that the deli ones give off a very smooth, glossy, and almost damp surface. Whereas if I slice regular beef (and chicken), it looks dry, matte and coarse.
 

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Hi JohnDB, thanks so much for chiming in. Wow, you seem to be very familiar with the chemistry and history behind it.
To clarify my question, some of these deli meats that I'm referring to are whole JOINTS of meat that is sliced (grains of meat observable and all), and this is what I'm most interested in replicating. I understand that the process of myotin development works by agitating minced meat, so I don't think it could be that.

Example is: I could buy "roast beef" from the deli, which are slices of the cheapest cuts available, like topside or silverside, and made completely well done. These cuts are tough as, but even if I roast a rib eye to the same effect, and I made thin slices of it, and gave both this and the deli beef to my 4 yr old kid on a plate with a fork and knife, he's going to find that he can cut the deli meat easily, but will have difficulty sawing through my rib eye slices. The deli meat would be like wet paper towels that tears apart more easily than an ordinarily roasted beef that would be a dry paper towel in this analogy, where the fibres aren't expanded and are less willing to tear apart. Sorry, not sure how to describe this to be honest.

Another observation comparing the deli beef (and chicken) to regular roasted beef (and chicken) is that the deli ones give off a very smooth, glossy, and almost damp surface. Whereas if I slice regular beef (and chicken), it looks dry, matte and coarse.
That "tenderness" is coming from a "marinade" which tenderizes the muscle without affecting the myotin. And I'm sure that if you bound up and cooked whole muscle meats that you had brined/cured in cheesecloth they would be shiny when sliced. Last time I did a mock cure '81 ham it sliced up just fine...including being shiny.

I'm not up on ALL the chemistry as a food chemist usually is....I haven't, don't, and won't work in the highly processed food industry. I'm kinda against those guys....I do foods in a scratch fashion with as little chemical processing as possible. I'm cognizant of the chemistry I work within....like how raspberries and blueberries resist freezing and sausage binds and etc...but not everything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks JohnDB. Yeah I'm definitely with you on that one. I want to ensure I don't add to the harmful chemicals that are already unavoidable everywhere.

Last time I did a mock cure '81 ham it sliced up just fine...including being shiny.
This sounds like what I'm looking for. Do you remember what was in your brine?
 

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Thanks JohnDB. Yeah I'm definitely with you on that one. I want to ensure I don't add to the harmful chemicals that are already unavoidable everywhere.



This sounds like what I'm looking for. Do you remember what was in your brine?
Not off the top of my head for the ratios.

Brining and curing meat is done with rather exacting ratios of "Prague powder" (nitrites) and dextrose and salt and water. If you do it wrong it is poison and/or will give you cancer.
I tend to not rely upon internet recipes for curing meats but instead rely upon some older actual physical books I got lying around on the ratios for curing. Publishers with a lot at stake made sure that ratios were correct and not some schmuck living at the homeless shelter pretending to be a chef. I recommend that you follow suit for fixing the color in cured meats...this part is not something to be taken lightly. There are instructions on Prague Powder packages and most curing publications. Follow their ratios EXACTLY.
Spices are up to you. Salt is your choice too. Sugar is not up to you! It's part of the reason why curing meat isn't poison.

Brining?
Get a meat injector...there are various ones out there. They are just big cartoonish sized needles that give shots. And you are going to inject the meat at 1" spacing everywhere....meaning a lot of shots.

If you are going to do production amounts...there's one that has a pump handle like a grease gun and a larger needle with a bunch of holes in the side. (Another end of a hose draws the brine out of a 5 gallon bucket)

But basically you are going to inject the meat until it doubles in size....of course it's going to leak out too....but you are going to continue to brine it for a day at least before you cook it. I recommend 3 but YMMV. (Of course under refrigeration)
 

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Just wondering...
First time I hear that sugar has to be in a cure!
Salt however has to be in it.
Are you sure you did't mix them up?

As to curing & reliable information: check out
Meats and Sausages and their forum Homemade Sausage Making - Index page
Sugars in the form of dextrose or dextrose forming (like brown sugar) need to be a part of a cure using Prague powder because of the nitrosomines which are highly carcinogenic.

How common is a "Brown Sugar Ham" or bacon? Reason being is that it needs to be in there. (FDA mandate these days)

Salt is needed but the amount used is completely up to the personal tastes of the person making it.

Once upon a time when I was working with one of the Michelline boys he made a gravlax that was akin to gummy bears....a blend of sugar and salt but actually more sugar than salt. Salt started the curing but after enough time the sugar replaced the salt....it was an odd process but it worked and the salmon became like gummy bears...translucent and pink.
 

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I have read, but cannot confirm otherwise, that a lot of deli meats from whole cuts are pumped with something like an Agar or carrageenan solution before cooking, wrapped under high pressure, in a bath. This supposedly produces a moist result that won't break and is highly resistant to temperature variation (as a gelatin pump would not be).

All I can say from experience is that doing this with turkey breast pumped with a milk brine and carrageenan solution, glued with transglutaminase, vacuum sealed, and processed in a careful bath did produce an unctuous and very delicious result that I used a few years ago for Thanksgiving to great acclaim. The leftovers did slice like a deli meat.

Hope that helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I have read, but cannot confirm otherwise, that a lot of deli meats from whole cuts are pumped with something like an Agar or carrageenan solution before cooking, wrapped under high pressure, in a bath. This supposedly produces a moist result that won't break and is highly resistant to temperature variation (as a gelatin pump would not be).

All I can say from experience is that doing this with turkey breast pumped with a milk brine and carrageenan solution, glued with transglutaminase, vacuum sealed, and processed in a careful bath did produce an unctuous and very delicious result that I used a few years ago for Thanksgiving to great acclaim. The leftovers did slice like a deli meat.

Hope that helps.

ANY chance you can share what you did?? This sounds promising!
 

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Chicken nuggets, sausages, ham, frankfurts, deli meats... they all have this common thing going on with them.
They're moist, juicy, and there's this bounce or springiness to them. In the case of chicken products in particular, the meat doesn't feel like meat. It doesn't go tough, it doesn't harden (as much) when it goes cold, doesn't get chewy, doesn't dry out, and doesn't turn into stringy rubber.

What's causing this? Originally, I thought it was the nasties from the curing salt like your nitrites and nitrates, but these are supposed to give off a pinkish hue so that can't be it in the case of processed chicken meats, which remain completely white.

Can someone walk me through the process and whether it is possible to replicate this texture at home without the use of harmful preservatives/chemicals? Not trying to make meat last for months - I just wanted to replicate the texture.

Cheers all!
RookieT
They use various starches, I find they burn the back of my throat so I'd have no interest trying to emulate them.
I prefer the french method of making panade from bread and milk, that gives a pate a certain sponginess and holds it together.

If you make a country pate without panade you end up with meatloaf and all the juices will run out, the panade binds it up nicely, we did the same making cumberland sausage when I was a butcher apprentice in the UK, same goes for french boudins.
 
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