Whilst I am a great believer in using locally produced meat from independent suppliers I’m also aware that many people don’t have the income to do this.
I hope to show with this project that you can still make some great products despite this. Many are cheaper than buying them from the supermarket. Yes, the quality may be better with meat produced to higher standards but good products can be made using meat produced on an industrial scale.
This is the piece of meat I bought from a local supermarket that sells pork produced in Britain. It’s around a kilogram of pork loin and cost £4.26 as it was discounted to £4 per kg.
That still may seem like a lot of money to some but the meat it makes can be used instead of cured ham, fried as bacon or be cut into thick slices to use as pork steaks/bacon chops – all of which would be more expensive to buy.
In Germany, it’s called Kasseler and is usually cured with the bones still in; it’s served as bacon chops. Some online references talk of it being smoked, cooked and then stored in brine which seems an odd way of going about things! However the few recipes I can find all make it in the normal way.
I decided to follow my friend Paul’s instructions for cooking the corned beef. He said to braise it slowly in chicken stock; I hadn’t any defrosted and so used water with the meat sat on a sliced onion.
The dry-cured beef that was put to cure on 29th August has now been curing for 20 days. How did I calculate the cure time? Well, it depends somewhat on the type of cure. Older cures tended to use lots of salt and then cure for a number of days per inch of meat. You still see people advising this online. However, that doesn’t apply in this case as the cure was formulated so that however long it’s left there can only be 2.5% salt in the meat. That’s about the same level as in mild bacon. I’ll braise the meat in liquid which will reduce this level further.
More important is that I chose to cure it for 20 days to give plenty of time for the saltpetre to work. Unlike the sodium nitrite in Cure #1, saltpetre (potassium nitrate) has to react with bacteria in the meat to lose an oxygen molecule and become potassium nitrite. It’s that nitrite that gives the meat protection and its colour.
One of my old standbys – based on a recipe from Nigel Slater’s book ‘Toast’. A book well worth buying.
The recipe is simplicity itself.
Chicken with Lemon, Basil and Garlic
Cut a chicken into 8 pieces. Put it into a roasting tin with a head of garlic (crushed up a bit) and some onion segments. Squeeze over the juice from two lemons and chuck the lemons in. Glug with olive oil and stuff in the oven at 180°C for ½ hour. Then chuck a glass of white wine in along with a handful of basil leaves. Cook for 15 minutes more and serve…
…dip ya bread in!
This is even nicer done with preserved lemons.
Pauline can’t have wine, so I used chicken stock instead. She’s going to have to go!
My good friend Paul from North Carolina revised an injection cure to use as a dry-cure for beef brisket. He cooked it to eat on St. Patrick’s day in 2020. I thought of it the other day when we were shopping at a local trade wholesaler as they had brisket on offer. It seemed an ideal time to try something like Paul made without risking expensive meat.
I decided to stick close to Paul’s recipe – I trust him in these things. However, I’ve reduced the allspice and increased the juniper to take account of our preferences.
I trimmed the meat.
Then prepared the cure.
It looks and smells good.
I put the meat into a bag for curing before I rubbed the cure onto it. It’s less messy that way.
The meat will now cure for 20 days or so in the fridge. I’ll leave it for that long because saltpetre needs time to react with bacteria in the meat to do its job.
The results and cooking instructions are in this post.
There are only so many faggots a man can take (I hope that no one in the US misunderstands this!). So what’s different that you can do with the masses of pork liver from your half pig? Liver Pâté is the obvious one but it’s taken me ages to find a recipe that isn’t just too… …well just too ‘livery’.
This recipe, a slight amendment of the one from ‘Charcuterie’ by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn, is the best so far. The one I formulated myself was too strong in the liver department, and bitter in taste. In my notes I wrote: “add breadcrumbs/rusk, add milk product”, that’s exactly what this recipe does. Some parts of the method are my additions.
1 lb/450 gms pork liver, cut into large chunks 1 lb/450 gms boneless pork shoulder, diced 1 ounce/25 gms salt 1 tsp/3 gms freshly ground black pepper 2 bay leaves 2 sprigs fresh thyme 2 tbsp/30 ml vegetable oil ¼ cup/50 gms chopped shallots 2 tbsp/30 ml brandy 2 slices white bread, crusts removed and roughly chopped ½ cup/120 ml whole milk ¼ cup/60 ml double cream. 2 large eggs 1 tbsp/6 gms chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley ¼ tsp/0.5 gm ground white pepper ½ tsp/1 gm freshly grated nutmeg
1. Put the meats in separate bowls with half the salt, pepper, thyme and bay in each, mix and marinate separately for 8 hours or overnight. 2. In a frying pan, sear the liver in the oil until brown, add the shallots and cook until translucent, add the brandy, cook off the alcohol, scrape all the bits off the bottom of the pan and put in a bowl to cool in the fridge. 3. Mix the bread, milk, cream and eggs well and set aside. 4. Keeping everything very cold, mince everything except the bay and thyme (which can be thrown away) through the fine plate of your mincer. (watch out as the liver has a tendency to squirt through the mixer plate!). 4. If you want an even finer pâté put the lot in the freezer with your food processor bowl for 20 minutes or so. Then process until very fine. Check the temperature with a thermometer regularly – don’t let it exceed 15°C. (Food processors heat food very quickly so watch out – or omit this step). 5. Line a mould with cling film, greaseproof paper, or baking parchment and fill it pushing the mix into the corners. Cover the pâté with the chosen lining and then with foil. 6. Put in a bain-marie (roasting tin of hot water) in the oven at 150°C, test with a thermometer after about 1-1½ hours – remove when it’s been above 65°C for 10 minutes if using pork (or when it reaches 72°C for chicken liver). 7. Put weights on top of the pâté and cool.
I’ve posted before about making faggots, but they were the type you buy in gravy from the shops. This recipe is for the more traditional faggot that you get from a good butcher’s shop. I know most people reheat them and serve with gray; I like them sliced up in thick slices and fried.
The recipe is an adaption of one posted by ‘Somerset Lad’ on the River Cottage Forum. In the original, the meat is cooked in liquid before being ground and mixed. In this area, it is normal to mince/grind the meat and make the faggots before cooking. I also prefer a higher ratio of pork meat to liver than in his recipe.
Meat Pig’s Fry 60.00% Fatty Pork (Belly) 40.00%
Other ingredients as a percentage of the total meat:
Fresh Breadcrumbs 16.66% Dried Sage 0.24% Parsley 0.16% Onion 10.00% White Pepper 0.28% Black Pepper 0.15% Salt 1.60%
Mince the meats then mix in the dry ingredients. Leave to stand for about an hour – it will firm up. Shape into the size faggots you want (about 9 is good), wet hands help to do this, put in a dish, and fill it about a third of the way up the faggots with stock or water. Cook in a 190°C oven (170°C fan) for about 40 minutes. Cover with foil if the tops are getting too brown
If using caul, soak it in tepid water for about an hour, then wrap a piece around each faggot before cooking.
An article in the Farmers’ Guardian titled ‘Offal renaissance to boost livestock industry‘ reminded me that I had a bag of pig’s ‘bits’ in the freezer, ready for making faggots.
I used this recipe by Antony Worrall Thompson. Unlike many others it doesn’t boil the meat before mincing. I amended the recipe slightly adding more sage, and parsley instead of chives. The gravy was made using stock, tomato puree, and soy sauce for colour, thickened with a roux – my wife cannot have anything with wine in.
I’m pleased with the end result and Emma, my younger daughter’ loves them – better than Brains dad! Not that that would be difficult! They are very much the ‘faggot and gravy’ type rather than the firmer faggots many local butchers prepare – I like that type sliced and fried.
Next time I’d add even more sage and cover them in the later stages of cooking, but all in all, I’m very satisfied.
Food, Curing and Sausage