Thursday, December 1, 2011

Noix de Jambon, Oops, Salt and Air-Cured Pork Belly

Noix de jambon

This may look like Jambon de Camont, and it may even taste like the re-named noix de jambon, but I confess, I cut all three of my noix de jambon too small, so by the time they had gone through the salt stage and the cold smoke stage, they had already lost 30% of their weight.  It made for a very easy challenge, but somehow I felt like I didn't really meet the challenge.  If I had hung them, they would have just become smaller and drier.  They certainly tasted good and, although the small and medium ones were a bit salty, they were still edible.  I saved the large one, the most edible, for my last and final December challenge.

I didn't have time (end of semester deadlines) to order another fresh "ham."  Actually, my local USDA butcher, Woods Meats, informed me that they were selling me pork leg because it wasn't ham until it was cured.  I smiled.  I've become well acquainted with them during the course of the year.  I wasn't even sure I could order more pork leg because this is the time of year when they're preparing for holidays, brining and curing their own hams, and stocking up for the winter.  I can't even buy pork back fat from them this time of year!  Luckily I have extra in the deep freeze.  Also, they only slaughter pigs on Wednesdays, so it would be another week before I could order another pork leg.  I wasn't sure what to do....  I thought about lonzino, but again, what if that went wrong as well?  And, I had never tasted lonzino.  Wonder if I didn't like it.  Oh, what to do? what to do?

Dry sausage like chorizo or saucisson sec all required too much time because of the grinding, cooling, mixing, cooling, stuffing, cooling, hanging.  I do love dry sausage and intend to make Spanish chorizo, Hungarian salami, and Saucisson Sec, but not in the midst of grading final papers, essays, and exams.

So, I turned to one of my favorite parts of the pig: the belly.  Since I couldn't get the pork back fat for lardo, why not some pork belly?  I love pork belly!  If I bought just the right size, I could make flat pancetta to use as large chunks of pork belly in the December challenge and use the rest for a small, cured pork belly - lardo with striation!  I had just enough time for twelve days of salt cure and eighteen more days hanging until November 30th.

Salt & Air Cured Pork Belly, aka Lardo

I took the pork belly out of its box in the heat controlled room with humidifier.  It looked and tasted salty and porky and lucious, but I was pretty sure that it needed more time.  It hadn't lost enough in weight (does that matter with lardo), plus I wanted that full 24 day hanging.  It's beautifully white with small striations of meat.  I believe that it becomes saltier over time, also drier, yet the fat will still dissolve almost instantly into the homemade bread I'll serve it on.

Cured pork belly on homemade rye bread

I tried it on some homemade, sourdough rye.  It's really good, but I think it will just become more and more delicious for each additional day I allow it to hang.  And after eleven months of charcuterie, I know that I need to go for the flavor.  Hurray, Charcutepalooza!

1 comment:

Jake said...

Looks great Linda. Hope Idaho winter is treating you alright-- it's gotta be great for curing, with the damp and cold. I'm currently fighting 80 temps in Texas (still).