As long as you take some simple hygiene precautions, home-salted pork is easy to pickle and cook. A plastic bucket with a lid is the best thing to use for the brine, and it needs to be scrupulously cleaned and then wiped out with Milton’s fluid, the stuff used for sterilizing baby’s bottles. Also wipe a clean plate with the solution. The inclusion of sodium nitrite is cosmetic as it gives the meat a pink colour. You can buy sodium nitrite tablets through your butcher.
Put the piece of belly pork in the sterilized bucket and pour in enough of the cold brine through a sieve to cover the meat. Put the sterile plate (see above) on top to keep the meat submerged and put the lid on the bucket. Leave for 5 days.
Before cooking, either soak the meat overnight in cold water or bring to the boil in the water and throw away the water, replacing with fresh. Return to the boil, skim, lower the heat and simmer for 2 hours.
Serve cut in thick slices, with lentils or a purée of haricot beans and garlic. Mustard is always nice with boiled salted meats, as are mostarda di Cremona, Italian sweet mustard pickles.
© 1998 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.