Ok, so I don´t really have a development kitchen and most of the actual experimentation went on in a small blue plastic bucket in my storage shed, but I have successfully cured (in brine) a piece of pork for the first time.
You may recall a while back I showed you a recipe for Boiled Gammon. At the time I talked about the fact that it is impossible to buy it here in Andalucía but that I wanted to figure out how to make it at home.
Well, I turned to my old pal Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and he had some great information in his River Cottage Cookbook.
I started with a small piece of loin of pork that weighed 800g as I didn´t wanted to waste a large piece of meat if it all went horribly wrong. I decided to play around a little with the flavours, amounts are flexible.
- Pork (your choice of weight and cut)
For the brine
- Dark beer – 2 bottles
- 1 kg Salt
- Treacle or molasses – I used half a cup of Miel de Caña (or you could dissolve brown sugar in with the salt and beer)
- Crushed black peppercorns and cloves (I used about a tablespoon full of each)
I boiled the salt with the beer and spices until it was dissolved then stirred in the molasses and added enough water to ensure the liquid would cover the meat.
The pork was put into a new (and then sterilised) bucket and covered with the brine once it had cooled completely. I had to put a plate with a weight on it to keep it from floating out of the water. This was then left in a cool dark place for 3 days. The recipe suggests this as a minimum period per kilo with a four day maximum period per kilo. You should note that your meat will not be a pretty pink colour like the brined hams bought in shops unless you use something like saltpeter or a chemical additive to keep the colour. I didn´t do this, as I prefer not to. For me, it´s all about keeping it natural and tasting great.
When the required number of days have passed, drain the meat (discard the brine, it should not be reused). Bring it to the boil in a pot of fresh water, drain it again and then cook. I cooked it in the same way as previously, this time adding a couple of dried chillis to the stock and some celery.
When I posted the previous recipe my best friend called me to ask what the heck I had been doing serving the gammon with parsley sauce when it should have been onion sauce. I stand corrected.
This time I made a delicious onion sauce by gently frying a medium onion in a little olive oil until it was soft and transparent. Then I added 2 tablespoons of flour and cooked it slightly then stirred in a cup of the meat cooking stock and half a cup of milk. Add salt if it needs it (mine didn´t) and pepper and serve alongside the meat and vegetables.
Any leftovers can be made into a soup, but more of that another day…I´m off back to the Development Kitchen. We keep the wine in the shed.