Kindziuk is a very odd dry-cured meat product, but supposedly very famous in Poland, as well as Lithuania, where it is called Skilandis. Until recently, I never heard about it, but came across the recipe in the Marianski’s Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages. For starters, I was surprised to see it would traditionally be cured in a pig’s stomach, or bladder. Now I’ve seen sausages cured in pig’s bladders, which are pretty similar to curing in intestinal casing, they’re just bigger and rounder. But a pig’s stomach is a sturdy, muscular organ. In the South of the U.S. it’s called a hog’s maw and can be cooked and sliced into strips as you would most skeletal meats. I've never cured in something so thick and muscular before, and it's something I would like to experiment with. I used to see pig’s stomachs in our grocer’s freezer all the time, but now that I’m in the market they seem to have disappeared. Two weeks and multiple stops later and I was still gutless. So I used a double wrapping of caul fat, as that’s worked in the past.
The spicing of Kindziuk is also unusual, but that’s just because they’re not spice flavors I normally associate with dry cured meats or salami. But they were easy to get. I made my Kindziuk spice mixture with marjoram, mustard seed, caraway, bay, sweet paprika, white pepper, and allspice. Grinding the mixture in my mortar, it smelled wonderfully warm, savory, and slightly sweet. The stuffing for Kindziuk is primarily lean beef mixed with pork fat, and I’m very excited to see how it tastes when the cure is done. The recipe states it's traditional to use older animals, which I think also hints at the stronger flavor, and thus a need for heavier spicing. It's also salted at 3.5% per weight, not the usual 2.5-3%. A small increase, but significant.
As excited as I am to try this, this is a product that’s going to take a while. It hangs to cure for 6-8 weeks, then gets cold smoked twice, and then hangs to continue to cure. Marianski remarks that this sausage is famous for its keeping abilities – no doubt after such a long and intensive curing session.
In researching this product, I couldn’t find any information on it. Well, not in English. I did find this great site from Poland...which is in Polish. In a moment of “it’s a small world,” I realized that this site is the same one Marianski gives photo credit to in his recipe for Kindziuk. Even if you don’t speak Polish, the site is very interesting to check out. The site’s author, Robert Winckiewicz, presses his Kindziuk, which is something I’ve wanted to try for a while.
A major principle of the Marianski’s book is that you shouldn’t be tied to recipes, as you’ll often encounter situations requiring you to improvise. In these instances, it’s more important to understand how and why curing meat works, so you can adapt your recipe to produce a safe, quality product. In that light, I decided to press my Kindziuk as well, since I thought the caul fat could use some reinforcement during the initial curing period to form a tight seal.
So now the Kindziuk is starting its initial cure, although I’m still on the lookout for a pig’s stomach to try on Kindziuk batch #2. One thing I may try differently with batch #2 is using pork belly for the fat, instead of back fat. I saw that on Winckiewicz’s Polish site and thought it was very interesting. I’ve had dry cured pork belly before, sliced thin and enjoyed raw like prosciutto, but in general pork belly is not in dry cured in salami. Unlike the firm, dense back fat of a pig, pork belly is soft and smushy, so once ground up it can tend to smear and actually seal moisture in a salami casing, causing it to hold water and rot, rather than cure.
Updates to follow!