Making your own cured meats is a lot easier than you may have thought. Mostly just choosing the right cuts, do a days-long soak in a brine, then slow cook or slow cook/smoke.
This recipe makes a salt cured pork loin that results in a Canadian Bacon-like meat. It is suitable to be used like ham.
I buy what is referred to as a half boneless pork loin, it is 5-6 pounds and sold in a vacuum sealed package for between $1.69 and $1.99 a pound, on sale.
1 gallon water
1 cup Morton’s Kosher Salt, available at most supermarkets
1 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp Himalaya Pink Salt, Costco sells in 3 lb container, more info here.
1 cup honey, pure Maple Syrup or any sweet syrup
2 tbsp dried whole Italian Mix Herbs
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 tbsp Wright’s Liquid Smoke
~5 lb pork loin
I have found that making 1/2 this brine recipe will be enough for a 5-6 lb half pork loin, or you can make the full batch and freeze the unused portion for next time. Once the brine is used once, it must be discarded.
Mix the brine up and bring to a boil. Cool. Then chill. Cut the loin into 4 equal roast size pieces. Make sure they are all approx. the same size. Ragged edges and excess fat layer needs to be trimmed off so you have nice neat pieces. I use the stainless steel bowl pictured above. Put the four pieces into the bowl and cover with the chilled brine. The meat will want to float, so place a plate or bowl on the top of the meat to keep them all submerged. Place in refer for 3 days, check every day to make sure the pieces are submerged. Make sure that pieces that are adjacent get moved so brine can enter meat on all sides.
Remove from brine and wash off in cold water. Discard brine. Place pieces on a rack that is sitting on/in a sheet pan lined with foil. See photo above. Place back in refer for 24 more hours, to dry off. The drying and cooking pan are one and the same. Place in a 200° f oven for 4 to 5 hours, the interior needs to be about 150 °f tested with a meat thermometer. (My oven needed to be set at 225 to result in 200.)
Cool, enjoy! This is s fully cooked meat and can be used hot or cold. After chilling, you can slice paper thin sheets across the grain for sandwiches or breakfast meats. Re-fry like ham slices, dice for stir frys, etc. Freezes beautifully. I like to wrap each piece in plastic wrap to keep air away from the meat. Then place in a gallon freezer Zip-lock bag and squeeze as much air out as possible and zip close. This is a good way to freeze many things.
You will notice that this meat is not pink like bought hams. This is because you have not used any sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite as a preservative. See this link for more details on this. But, the pink salt does lend a slight pinkish tone to the cooked meat.
After you have made this recipe once, you now will be able to alter the brine to fine tune your personal product. Pure Maple Syrup with red pepper flakes and fresh sage anyone?
’til next time,
Highland Garden House B & B
501 E. Highland Ave.
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
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