Salt your Own Pork

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This recipe comes from Elizabeth Luard’s European Peasant Cookery, and makes a delicious salt pork that will keep almost indefinitely. It is much easier than going around trying to find salt pork in a shop. You must use fresh pork belly that has not been frozen, which means that you must buy it from a butcher and not from a supermarket. It is perfect eaten with Lincolnshire Beans (see opposite page).

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp juniper berries
  • A small bunch of dried thyme
  • 4-5 bay leaves
  • lb (about cups) pickling salt
  • 1 oz saltpeter (see note below)
  • 8 lb piece of fresh pork belly and sides

Method

Pound the peppercorns, juniper berries, thyme, and bay leaves in a pestle and mortar. Mix these aromatics with the salt and saltpeter.

Dry the meat thoroughly. Rub the spiced salt vigorously but carefully into the skin side, then turn it over and rub salt into the flesh side. Reverse it again and rub more salt into the skin side. Put the meat on a layer of spiced salt in a well-scrubbed and scalded salting tray. Pack the rest of the salt all around the meat and set a well-scalded and scrubbed board with a 2-pound can of food on top.

Leave the meat in a cool place, turning it in the salt every 2 days.

The weighted board can be removed after 2-3 days. The pork will be ready to use in a week, but it will keep for a long time and become saltier the longer it is kept.

When ready to use the pork, cut off as much as you need. If it is very salty, bring it to a boil in cold water and drain, then put it back into the pan with fresh water. Boil the piece for 1 hour and it will be very tender.