Posts Tagged ‘pork’

Curing in 2014 part 2

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Curing progress: this is the progress on my second batch. A pork neck, in two pieces, which is now under the house, and a beef skirt, which is now in red wine. The cuts were two weeks in cure in the fridge.

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Hanging from a beam under the house. Looks a bit sinister, but in 6-8 weeks it will be porcine bliss. The beef will join them in about 4 days.

Pork and fennel stew

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This is the pork and fennel stew I mentioned recently. I cook it in a slow cooker of 5 litres or thereabouts.

Pork neck sounds like a gruesome cut, but only the way I’ve found it for sale is as a fat, short cylinder of lean meat. No tubes, bones or other gruesomeness. Looking at it in a vacuum bag you’d expect it to make fantastic pork steaks. However, rather than one long muscle (like fillet) it has a bunch of different muscles going every which way.

Ingredients:
A pork neck (approx 1.5 kg), diced
A couple of hocks or trotters
Oil and butter for frying
1-2 fennel bulbs
1 tbsp carroway seeds

Optional:
2-4 carrots
1-2 onions
Cider

Method:
Brown the trotters or hocks in a pan in a little oil. Place them in a slow cooker. Brown the diced neck in batches and add to the slow cooker. Sprinkle the carroway seeds over. Deglaze the pan (I used water but you could use a little cider) and add the juices to the slow cooker.

If you’re doing onions and carrots, brown them in some butter and add them to the slow cooker at this point.

Brown the sliced fennel in butter until you get dark spots and delicious burned butter and caramelised fennel smells. Add a little water (depends on the size of your cooker, but I used about 1/3 cup). Pour the lot on top of the pork, then pop a layer of baking or greaseproof paper on top.

Cook it like this–layered–for a couple of hours, then stir gently, re-cover, and cook a couple of hours more. Before serving, disassemble the hocks or trotters, discarding any skin and bone. Chop up any meat and add it back in.

Serve with fresh sage cut over the top, with dumplings, mash, rice or whatever you’re in to.

This stew is very simple, and really showcases two cheap cuts. I get neck for around $10 per kilo, and hocks for $6 a kilo. It works with these cuts because the neck is a little too lean and not quite tendon-y enough on its own. The addition of hocks or trotters makes it rich and velvety. You can grow your own fennel, but I bought mine. It’s cheap at the moment because it’s in season (southern hemisphere, cool temperate).

An early start to curing

Last year’s bresaola was sufficiently successful that I was determined to get an early start to curing this year.

First to be finished is a pork belly. I did a half salt, half sugar cure with instacure #2, black pepper and garlic powder for two weeks in the fridge, changing the cure half way through. This was a cure-in-the-bag arrangement, so it started dry and became wet with the extracted moisture.

This was followed by two months under the house wrapped in muslin. The finished product was inedibly salty but a day in fresh water fixes that. I think the extra salt was probably what let me get away with curing while the temperatures were a bit too high.

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The finished product! Now that it’s winter we’re not getting any eggs from our hens, so it’s nice to have something else home made on the plate.

Note that this is not a “how to cure”. I don’t have enough experience to help someone else do this: it’s just a record of my own experiments. If you intend to cure at home, I’d recommend getting a good book or doing a lot of googling.

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