I write books, build apps, make kitchen tools. We've just launched an app to promote the craft of charcuterie, all about salting, curing and smoking.

You can get the iPhone app in the app store or at https://charcuterieapp.com/, where you can use discount code 'scp01' to get your first three months for $1.99/month.

My Proof: https://twitter.com/ruhlman/status/761940464845160448

Must dash! Will try to check in later for any follow ups. all great questions, except that Valor one! You guys are great. Praise the Lard!

Comments: 297 • Responses: 63  • Date: 

BaconGivesMeALardon57 karma

Will there be a sequel or add on revision with more info to your book "Ratio"? I think that is a book every professional chef should have in their arsenal. Thank you for what you do!

michaelruhlman27 karma

thanks for the kind words! but no plans for a revision right now.

aesculuskurticus55 karma

Fellow native-Ohioan here 😉. Love your books! An unexpected side effect I've noticed since getting into meat curing is that my wife and I consume LESS meat. Which I think has been great at least from cost point of view. Have you heard this before or experienced it yourself? Any thoughts? Thanks!

michaelruhlman42 karma

yes, absolutely. because it's so nutritous with its protein and fat, your body doesn't need more. Great comment.

sugoi-desune53 karma

Mystic, Valor or Instinct?

michaelruhlman107 karma

are you high?

Quinoaburrito32 karma

What is your craziest Bourdain experience?

michaelruhlman60 karma

by far the post Masa shenanigans that began our frienemy-ship. way back on egullet when he attacked me mercilessly as being Whitey Bulger in a blazer. This after emptying all that good sushi into the Hudson because we got so hammered after the meal.

michaelruhlman42 karma

actually, it was Sonny Barger, the Hells Angel. But I'll take either.

LaffingBooda30 karma

Hey Michael. I have been making salami for about a year now. I am apart of the usual groups like the salt cured pig. Some in there don't use starter cultures and I wanted to know your thoughts on that. I use starter cultures but tend to think I can taste it in my end product and not in a positive way. Any advice?

michaelruhlman29 karma

It can be done, curing without adding cultures, been happing long before we could buy it--and we talk about how in salumi. adding culture gives you a measure of control and certainty, but yes, many can taste the difference, especially when it becomes too tangy.

encogneeto21 karma

My homemade country ham is ready to eat but I'm not ready to commit to eating it all at once. Can I just shave slices off as I want/need them and eat them prosciutto style without it starting to spoil or dry out or do I need to finish it shortly after I first cut into it?

michaelruhlman22 karma

yes you can. shouldn't spoil if properly cured, but it can dry out and light will turn the fat rancid.

BaconGivesMeALardon4 karma

Can I ask how much it weighs compared to when you started and how old it is?

Weight loss should be around 40%.

michaelruhlman18 karma

that's kind of high, no? Brian and I have always recommended 30% as a rule. Is this something that's specific to this cut? or your general rule?

camptentcamp19 karma

Michael, your books have been very helpful to me over the years as I've improved as a home cook.

How do you suggest a home cook that's learned the basics takes their skills to the next level?

michaelruhlman65 karma

by doing the same thing over and over and paying attention to the variations. judy rodgers cooked the best leg of lamb I've had, not because she was a genius, but because she'd cooked a thousand of them.

QMi617 karma

I have followed you for quite a while. I have been making two year old egg nog for years now. I have a rotating stock so we get to have a quart of fresh, a quart of one year old, and a quart of two year old each year now. Any plans to plans to come through Wisconsin any time soon?

michaelruhlman11 karma

no but if i do, i'm there!

Frajer16 karma

What got you interested in charcuterie ?

michaelruhlman58 karma

When i realized my favorite thing to eat, duck confit, was not created for our pleasure but rather for our survival.

brick_tamlans_3dent15 karma

Hey Michael! Love your books and cookbooks! Can you talk a little about the decision to go to CIA and write about the experience? Had you been a home cook prior to that and a professional writer? Did you at any point think you'd try and make a living working in restaurants/industry after CIA?

What the hell were you thinking? ; )

michaelruhlman29 karma

I was thinking I want a good story, get in get out and move on. fortunately or not, chef pardus called me a wuss and said I didn't have what it takes to be a cook. so. I learned how to cook, out of anger, and it's made all the difference.

brick_tamlans_3dent17 karma

Spite -- the great universal motivator. So going in you weren't thinking that cooking/cuisine were going to be part of your career after that? Regardless, you've found a vein that works really well for you. Keep on mining it!

michaelruhlman13 karma

nope, had no intention whatsoever. I wrote about it in my kindle single, the main dish, which I wanted to call Accidental Food Writer. Back then few people set out to be food writers. I happened to have a knack for it. I've always found my career path was guided by Providence.

TheTatCat21314 karma

Hi Ruhlman! I saw you first on No Reservations years ago in undergrad and was so glad you went to a Skyline (albeit grudgingly). I'm south of you, but my parents live in Cleveland... And as a classmate is getting married up there the 20th, would you want to get Skyline coneys on the 21st? That would be awesome. If not... yeah I probably wouldn't meet an internet stranger for coneys, either. But consider it, at least!

michaelruhlman13 karma

not in town then, alas.

Scottycooks13 karma

Who does your fabulous hair?

michaelruhlman16 karma

Chanel Pruitt in Cleveland does my fabulous hair. Have you been talking with @KimSeverson?

RaniAdams10 karma

Would you consider a book on knives and how to choose & USe?

michaelruhlman23 karma

No, there are already excellent ones out there. I try to write about things I don't already know about. which is the reason I was so eager to write about charcuterie in 2004. How the country has changed since then!

itoddicus10 karma

I just bought your book, as an opus to cured meat it is awesome, but as a recipe book I am troubled. I noticed that the measurements are all over the place. Did you personally test and verify all measurements and recipes?

michaelruhlman12 karma

brian tested them numerous times in his charcuterie classes which work from the book. the recipes all work.

the_drew9 karma

Hey, I read "making of a chef" many years ago and it was an inspiring read. Wanted to say thanks.

Couple questions:

  • what are your thoughts on the modernist / molecular movement that's gathering pace?
  • I can't source Prague powder, can you recommend an alternate?

michaelruhlman9 karma

i think the valuable parts of modernist will stay, and the rest will fall away. and where are you? look for sodium nitrite, or pinc salt or curing salt. all the same stuff. butcherpacker.com if you're in the states.

Woodsy219 karma

I'm just starting to really get into enjoying cooking and wanted to thank you for the inspiration with your Twenty cookbook; it's truly well done! I hope to pick up your other works soon. With that, what would you say are your most indispensable cookbooks and/or online resources for the burgeoning home cook?

michaelruhlman26 karma

there are few online sources i trust. I cherish my CIA new pro chef. McGee's On Food and Cooking. I think Kenji's The Food Lab is going to be.

throw6677 karma

Can you post a link to the App? Through all the comments I don't see that yet.

michaelruhlman9 karma

you can get the iphone app in the app store or at https://charcuterieapp.com/, where you can use discount code 'scp01' to get your first three months for $1.99/month

GatesofRock11 karma

Got to say that a monthly fee is a big turn off. Especially if 1.99 is a "discounted" rate.

michaelruhlman27 karma

We're aware of this, but we can't invest the time and energy without getting paid for it. ads don't compensate and they clutter an app. I honestly think this is the where internet is heading. Also, people who are investing in something tend to take it more seriously, and it keeps out people who are just fucking around. See spotify, or nomad list, or hell, hbo. remember too we're not looking for those kinds of numbers but rather a small committed tribe.

blackfeltbanner20 karma

Thank you for explaining that instead of just giving an empty apology. There's nothing wrong with having a business model and there are way too many people out there who think their customers are too stupid to understand the logic behind their pricing. The transparency is really refreshing.

michaelruhlman20 karma

thanks, very much, appreciate that.

Scottycooks7 karma

It's not the cost that is holding me back, it's the platform. While ratio and the bread baking app are handy on my phone, for in depth I tend to use a pc/laptop, or my android tablet at work. Easier on my aging eyes. Any plans to go cross-platform?

michaelruhlman9 karma

just starting out, so maybe eventually. josh says a couple months for Android! He's sitting next to me and I didn't even know.

GatesofRock-2 karma

Those are all for-profit entertainment companies, I thought you were trying to make a community for information/science of food. Between the monthly fee, and the reasoning behind iPhone exclusivity, I see that I sadly misunderstood your priorities. Good luck. Please keep writing books that can be purchased traditionally.

michaelruhlman7 karma

sorry, I spend a huge amount of time answering questions and communicating with readers and always have. but I also have to make a living, and that you are critical of me for that is upsetting. It's not an either or situation.

Pigmentia6 karma

What should we do with all of our tomatoes?

michaelruhlman26 karma

make sauce and freeze. make tomato consomme. eat a meal of tomatoes and fresh corn. throw them at your neighbors. learn to juggle.

Schwyy6 karma

I host holidays so my French oven is 13+ qts. When I use it for bread I have trouble getting crunchy crust. Is My huge pot too big for the bread?

michaelruhlman13 karma

shouldn't be. You leave it covered initially then remove it to get crisp crust, yes?

BaconGivesMeALardon6 karma

As I know you and Brian have gotten TON's of new people into curing meats. The books are nothing but a main stay in the realm. One persistent question thought is why is the bacon recipe so many people try first lean on the overly salty side? Was that by design or a other reason?

michaelruhlman15 karma

thanks for this question. people have a widely varying salt level preference depending on their body. my mom thinks my food is too salty and when I cook for her I ease off because her body doesn't need it. so I always urge people to find the salt level that's appropriate to their taste. bacon is supposed to be salty, that's what kept it preserved. but if you cure it and it's too salty, back off the next time, and soak or blanch to remove excess salt from what you've cured. My rule for salumi which is eaten cold is that it should have 2.5-3% salt. For food that's eaten hot, a 1.75-2% salt level.

michaelruhlman9 karma

But this is a great and controversial subject, worthy of debate!

LaffingBooda6 karma

Do you have a favorite salami that you tend to make over and over again? Mine has been my finocchiona, can't get enough!

michaelruhlman9 karma

finocchia is one of the great ones. I love simplicity though, salt pepper garlic.

RaniAdams6 karma

how can amateurs ensure safety in cold smoke or cold drying meats?

michaelruhlman16 karma

if you follow good procedures, keeping things clean, paying attention to temperatures, using curing salts properly. remember, this is an ancient craft, people have been doing it for millennia, long before we had health regulators. Understand the basics and use your common sense.

save_the_wee_turtles6 karma

How do I build a curing chamber?

michaelruhlman15 karma

this is exactly the kind of question we're already discussing on the app. it's too open ended to answer in a single reply. there all kinds of ways. You need to create an environment with high humidity and circulation and low temperature. there are many ways to do this.

CorkyKribler5 karma

What's something Bourdain doesn't want you to know about him?

Who's the most full-of-shit judge on Iron Chef?

What's a trend in food we'll see happen in 3-5 years?

What are some awesome food cities in America that have emerged in the last year?

michaelruhlman8 karma

  1. That he wears ladies underpants?
  2. That would be me.
  3. Fewer "trends" and more real food and real eating.
  4. Have had my head in the sand for the last year. But probably too many to mention.

Noitide5 karma

Hi Michael, my question is why the need for this app? It doesnt seem like there is enough of a pool of potential people to purchase to make it a worth wild venture for yourself. It seems like your merely monetizing a "forum" where people would openly share information free of charge. Could you explain how this app would be worth the investment over say, joining Sausage Debauchery for free?

michaelruhlman5 karma

We don't want 10s of 1000s, just hundreds of committed people. I can no longer field all the questions I get. What we hope to offer people is reliable information, direct access to experts, and a curated experience for people who are really interested in practicing this craft. It takes a lot of work, to build and to tend, thus the subscription model.

Noitide3 karma

Thanks for the reply. My follow up would be what piece of curing equipment would you like to see being built that currently does not exists, needs to be improved, or that there should be a cheaper option for?

michaelruhlman5 karma

a really good temp and humidity controlled curing chamber built specifically for that purpose, one that's affordable.

joshuanyoung5 karma

What's the thing about the West Village that you love the most? What do you hate the most?

michaelruhlman8 karma

It feels like a neighborhood. Great eating and drinking here. It's not crowded. Times square is my nightmare. What do I hate about it? Not one single thing. I love it absolutely.

blackfeltbanner4 karma

First off, thank you for writing "The Book of Schmaltz". I was wondering if you had a recipe for schmaltz herring? My wife's grandmother is a big fan and we found it once at a Russian Deli but they've stopped carrying it. Thanks again!

michaelruhlman4 karma

you're welcome and i don't have that recipe, sorry, but i'll bet you could figure it out.

atc324 karma

are you planning another update to charcuterie or salumi? Are there any parts about the books that you have changed your mind on? And why do you still seem to prefer the salt box method to the equilibrium method?

michaelruhlman10 karma

no revision planned but we want to write a book on pates terrines and confit. salt box method time honored and easy. equilibrium method relatively new but I suspect it will become increasingly common. it's my preferred method if I have the time

atc325 karma

why do you find the salt box method the less time dependent one? For me its easier to use equilibrium because you can pull it a day late and don't have to worry about it being any saltier.

And I am incredibly excited for the pates, terrine and confit. Definitely my favorite type of charcuterie after whole muscle cures

michaelruhlman5 karma

because salt box is higher concentration of salt. equilibrium takes more time to equalize. but you note the great advantage of equilibrium brining: you can let it sit not indefinitely but for a long time without it's becoming too salty.

Chicitycharles4 karma

What is the best way to prepare a human for a meal? What is the preferred gender/age

michaelruhlman8 karma

you'll have to go to borneo for that, where humans are called "long pig"

BaconGivesMeALardon3 karma

OK a question I asked over at the Salt Cured Pig today. Aside from Newsoms, Edwards, and Benton's what are your favorite country hams? I personally think the domestic hams are just as good as most of the wildly more expensive Spanish hams.

Favorite country hams in the nation?

michaelruhlman6 karma

those you mention are all great. by far fave ham is spigarolli's culatello. like nothing else on the planet

M00SE213 karma

Hi mike m how do do suggest cooking octopus? If it's sous vide what temp and time limit would you cook it? Thanks

michaelruhlman5 karma

don't have my books handy, check Under Pressure or Kenji's book probably has it. or ask me on twitter and someone should offer a response.

BaconGivesMeALardon5 karma

170f for 5-7 hours works for me....

michaelruhlman9 karma

nice, thanks. for octopus it's either cook real fast or real slow, no in between.

goola3 karma

Is there a reason why most of your formulas/recipes seem to be in volume instead of weight? Granted I haven't purchased any of your books but this is the main reason why I haven't. Why do you use less accurate units of measurements?

michaelruhlman3 karma

because still most people don't use scales and rely on volume. that said, recipes in ratio are all by weight.

cnoyes3 karma

With all the premium options for meat, I think some of them are just marketing ploys. Which do you think are worth the premium price? (E.g. Prime beef, humanely raised meat from whole foods, pastured chicken)

michaelruhlman5 karma

many are marketing ploys. you need to know the source and if youre buying from someone who doesn't know it, look elsewhere. so many variables.

kingofbaconandeggs3 karma

what's your favorite cooking show all time?

Met Brian and you 2013 in Deer Isle, Maine and you two were down to earth. Also went to pig stock 2013 in NJ based on one of your blog posts. Praise be the lard!

michaelruhlman14 karma

I love what chef's table is doing. did you see the dan barber episode?

AIRPOCALYPSE3 karma

What smoker would you suggest for a semi experienced home cook but a novice smoker?

michaelruhlman4 karma

I haven't explored all the new stuff that's out there, but anyone else? feel free to respond! again, this is the kind of discussion we'll be having on the app. Here's the info: you can get the iphone app in the app store or at https://charcuterieapp.com/, where you can use discount code 'scp01' to get your first three months for $1.99/month

AIRPOCALYPSE5 karma

HA! Yet another reason to get an iPhone! Guess I'll have to wait for the Android version! Thanks for responding!

michaelruhlman9 karma

people who use android tend not to pay. eg Ratio app for iphone out sells ratio for android 10 to 1. And these things are expensive/time consuming to build.

wandering-glutton4 karma

I love my Big Green Egg. It was an investment, but it still works without a problem 15 years later. It works throughout the coldest part of winter as well. Good insulation makes easy temperature control.

michaelruhlman4 karma

big green egg is FAB! Amazing for hot smoking bacon brisket.

TheDonnyChen3 karma

Acidity is something you stress the importance of when it comes to seasoning food and balancing flavors. How does sweetness fit into seasoning food and balancing flavors for you?

michaelruhlman2 karma

it's critical, like all the main flavor components, acid, sweet, salt, spice.

BaconGivesMeALardon3 karma

I am a Coppa guy, but have to ask. What is your favorite whole muscle cured meat and who does the best at that in your opinion?

michaelruhlman3 karma

Coppa! by far! has the perfect meat to fat ratio, is easy and what I recommend for first time curers. thanks for noting!

momotaro373 karma

Just wanted to say my signed "Rhulman's Twenty" is a favorite, and thank you for putting the work into Ratio, which has help demystify the culinary word and allowed folks like me to play around in the kitchen more. I loved the few videos you've done on YouTube (the mayonnaise one is watched just about every time I make it), any plans to do more of those?

michaelruhlman2 karma

no plans right now. too busy writing! but maybe in the future.

bunBpimpC2 karma

If you could have 3 knives in your kitchen, what would you choose?

michaelruhlman6 karma

Chef knife, paring knife, bread knife. Which are the only ones I use.

dead_brill2 karma

Hi Michael! Love your work, particularly Ratio. A couple questions:

  • What was your research/experimentation process like when you were writing Ratio?
  • I have a 1:1 flour:water sourdough starter that's nice and bubbly, but I can't seem to find any recipes that operate with this (I thought) simple starter. Advice?

michaelruhlman3 karma

I studied numerous recipes looking for common denominators--for quickbreads say, and then experimented till I got a basic ratio.

michaelruhlman2 karma

as for second question, you don't need a recipe, you just need to go by weights, starting with basic 5:3 flour:water ration and adjusting from there. I can't remember what my starter ratio is, but it's on my bread baking basics app for ipad, which is back at my apt. (I'm at my fave west village comfort food brew pub.)

wandering-glutton2 karma

What are your thoughts on the expansion of BBQ to NYC? Any favorite places there?

michaelruhlman4 karma

Hill country. Blue Smoke. Hometown Bar-B-Que in Red Hook. Love BBQ!

havetongs_willtravel2 karma

Hi Michael!

Fellow Cleveland chef here. What are some of your favorite places to eat around town?

michaelruhlman4 karma

can't say without offending someone if i forget to mention!

Arachne932 karma

I just wanted to thank you for all your writing, you've done a lot of good. We're all huge fans around here. I gave Making of a Chef to my kid, when he was pondering a career in the industry, and now he's pursuing a career as a chef...I thought it would scare him off.

One of my all time favorite books though, is A Return to Cooking, and I've always wondered...was that book as fun to write as it is to read?

michaelruhlman4 karma

try to scare him off!

and yes, return to cooking was a blast, thanks for mentioning

lvwally2 karma

Why kosher salt instead of pickling salt?

michaelruhlman3 karma

pickling salt has sugar and other stuff in it. when you just use kosher you have more control over the finished product.

[deleted]2 karma

[deleted]

michaelruhlman3 karma

that's a question for Brian, who is on his harley heading to Alaska. but it's also a book brian and I intend to write after pate

aspenrester2 karma

What is best way to start curing at home? n/m I will download app. Thanks

michaelruhlman6 karma

start by curing bacon (no need to smoke). Then try curing a magret duck breast for duck ham, and then cure a coppa and you'll never look back.

papker2 karma

I am so pleased to see you doing an AMA, Michael! My father gave me Charcuterie a few years ago as a birthday gift and my life has gotten progressively weirder ever since. I do have a question, however. I made some really delicious coppa some months back, but I was really disappointed with the amount of inedible connective tissue in each bite even when I cut the coppa very thinly. I did use shoulder rather than neck (as per Polcyn's recipe). I am wondering if the inedible gristle a) is just a fact of life? b) is a result of a poor shoulder?, c) wouldn't be an issue if I had used the neck meat?, or d) I don't know what I am talking about. I'd love to hear your thoughts. ps- thank you for bringing duck ham into my life.

michaelruhlman3 karma

sounds like you used shoulder. and I'd have to see taste to answer more completely

sacredblasphemies1 karma

[deleted]

michaelruhlman2 karma

not that i'm aware of.