Saturday in Westbrook.
The North wind’s a blowing albeit with a bit of East in it too. This has brought the para-surfers out in force, Westbrook beach with the wind from the NE seems to being them en-masse. Margate Roads is nowhere near as busy as it’s been of late, perhaps they’ve scooted off to find a quieter anchorage to watch the footy in? The lack of sun and paltry 15 degree temperature has, thankfully, kept the lard-arsed and the numpties away. Purgatory it be when the sun’s strong and the beach muppets come from afar, blocking the roads and waddling whale-like about the place; all tattoos, rolls of ugly white fat and plenty of mean tood. All very ghastly. All very Britain-moderne.
Allatsea has been busy rekindling the urge to go all ‘Good Life’, sort of, these last few months. Home curing ham and bacon to be more precise.
The dry cure methods, although reputed to be the THE way to do it for the best results, have never really delivered for the Towers. The results have been, er, ….OK ish at best. All edible and no-one died of food poisoning or indeed, even reported having a dose of the squits or similar, but they certainly were nearer to a description of ‘disappointing’ rather than ‘back of the net’. So with that in mind the ‘wet cure’ approach has been put into use. There are a zillion and one recipes out there in tinterwebby land if you google ’ home cure bacon’ (or similar), and that’s just for the ingredients and ratios of the brine, let alone timings and temperatures and drying routines and storage protocols and shelf life and so on, it can be all very intimidating and doubt causing from the word go.
The following works well…..so far anyway.
For each litre of water add 100g of table salt, 2-3 grammes of saltpetre (get it from Amazon and have accurate scales because in higher doses it doesn’t do you any good), 50 grammes of dark brown sugar, 10-15 grammes of peppercorns, assorted whole spices and whatever else takes your fancy. Mix together enthusiastically and cool to around 4-8 degrees centigrade. You’ll need a litre of brine for every kilogramme of pork .
Meat and Method
Place the pork (any joint can be used but the Towers uses, so far, loin or belly and to now the largest weight done in one go is 3kg) into a food grade plastic tub (ceramic/glass pots will do too but don’t use metal) and cover with brine and make sure the meat is completely covered by the brine. If necessary ballast the pork down with a non metal lump weight on the top.
Put the whole lot in the fridge or somewhere nice and cool and leave for 36 hours. It won’t hurt to leave it longer (up to a week in our experience) but it will taste significantly saltier especially if you use a brine ratio which has more salt in it than the 10% by mass identified here. Then remove the meat from the brine (discard the brine), wipe the joint with a paper towel or whatever to dry it and then hang it (use a meat hook or clean untreated string) somewhere cool and well ventilated but away from smells as the meat will take a taint easily, for around 36 hours. It’s ready to eat now but will improve with putting in the fridge and leaving for another week. When it’s stored in the fridge the drying out process does continue. This is in our humble opinion, improves the product. Smoking would also add to the curing process and give a different taste but to date we haven’t attempted smoking. It’s on the cards though. Have been trawling Amazon and EBay and a decent bit of kit can be had for around £150. Of course if you’re in the slightest bit practical you can make your own. This, naturally, is far beyond the abilities of yours truly.