Category Archives: Pork

Dry-curing bacon for seasoning meat, part 2

The previous post, with some basic info and getting started on this batch: 

This batch ended up sitting longer in the fridge, near the end, because I got distracted by a tooth abscess–but, it turned out fine anyway. Here are some more process photos, finally. 🙂

Day 2, before draining and resalting:

Day 3 or 4, with less liquid already getting drawn out:

Don’t worry if the brine smells like stale blood, BTW, because it mostly is. 😐 Glad to drain that stuff off!

Day 5 or 6:

I thought that, with the amount of lean meat full of moisture, it would probably take a bit longer for this batch, and it did. At this point, it needed a couple more days of curing.

But, a couple of days after that, it was starting to dry out enough that I intended to dump the rest of the cure on it and give it one more day in the fridge. That turned into about a week, but at that stage it wasn’t a problem. Thankfully! This photo is after I started resalting it for the day.

 

About a week ago, I finally got it rinsed, wrapped, and hung up to dry more.

Ready to go!

First I laid out a clean, thin tea towel. Don’t use one that you mind staining; some other kind of thin cotton cloth will work OK, too. This one has been repeatedly used for things like this, and it still doesn’t look great even though I always wash kitchen towels with Oxi stuff to get rid of germs.

Yep, my counter’s still a wreck. 😉 The bag of GF pasta in the background at least fits the theme here.

The lighting was really bad here. But, lay the pieces lengthwise, and wrap them up. This approach is easier with a single bigger slab, but it works OK with the sliced.

 

I rubber-banded the top and bottom. One reason I like to use these towels is that they come with handy hanging loops. 🙂

 

Those hooks are inconveniently placed for dish towels, as Mr. Sweden intended, but they’re great for things like bags of citrus and drying bacon. 😉 Not to mention decorative corn that you’re not sure what else to do with out of season. But, corn!

Cherokee folk song sung by Walker Calhoun of Cherokee, North Carolina at the Berea College Celebration of Traditional Music 10-26-90.

Today, I figured it was probably dry enough, and I wanted to use some in a pot of beans. One of the leaner pieces still had a bit much moisture, so I cut some from it and hung it back up. The other three pieces got double-bagged and put into the freezer. Salty, fatty things won’t keep too long in there, but it ought to hold for a few extra months without starting to go rancid. IME, about six months is the freezer storage limit before it starts turning.

The color is a bit off here, but looking pretty good! I wasn’t sure, but apparently there was enough nitrate (with my cautious addition) to keep it from turning brownish greyish: perfectly fine to eat, but an offputting color.

 

Ready for the freezer!

 

Slow cooker Carolina-inspired pulled pork

It tasted a lot better than it looks here. 😉 More on the toast later.

Warning: The lighting in our kitchen is even worse than usual, so these photos are pretty bad! The overhead fluorescent conked out, and Wilko was out of tubes that fit, so I temporarily dragged a halogen floor lamp in there from the living room. I tried to fix these a little, but yeah. At least it’s enough light to cook by.

I hadn’t even planned on posting this one, so I didn’t get any step-by-step photos while cooking it. But, it turned out tasty–and easy!–enough that I wanted to go ahead. 🙂

Lately, I’d been craving something with a Carolina style vinegar-based barbecue sauce. (Interesting article: BBQ History: A Very Brief History of the Four Types of Barbeque Found In the USA) One of the things I’ve missed a lot living in the UK–besides good Mexican restaurants!–is barbecue. Mr. Sweden keeps watching Food Network UK, which doesn’t help, with all the shows from the US full of barbecue and other kinds of food which are hard to impossible to get in restaurants here!

Another thing you need to make for yourself, usually including the sauce because most of the bottled stuff available here is not to my taste, besides all being the thick tomato-based stuff. I like those styles too, but not all the time. A lot of the time I’ll use Tropical Sun Smoked BBQ Seasoning for a dry rub (be careful, I think it was the Island Sun kind that I got home and found was full of wheat!), with a good hickory smoked flavor to it. Reggae Reggae or other jerk barbecue sauces are good too, for a thicker tomato-based option. But, especially with pork, sometimes I just want a mustard or plain vinegar-and-pepper sauce for a lighter flavor. This sauce ended up kind of a hybrid there, with just a hint of mustard flavor to it.

The recipe I worked from with this: Spicy Carolina Style Pulled Pork (In Crock Pot) Recipe, with an average five-star rating, which sounded promising!

I had to substitute a few things, but the version we ended up eating tonight was delicious enough that I’m trying not to run back in the kitchen and eat more of it now. 🙂

The GFSC version

1.5 kg / 3.3 lb. pork shoulder roast

I actually bought two smaller frozen ones, and let them thaw a little before putting on the dry rub. Anywhere near that weight range would work fine for the amount of seasonings.

Dry rub mixture:
1.5 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
1.5 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Rub that all over the meat, then put it on top of a big quartered onion laid in the bottom of the slow cooker. If you have the time and patience, let it sit for a few hours in the fridge. (With the long, slow cooking here, I’m not sure how much difference the extra marinating time makes.)

While that’s sitting, you can mix up the sauce. I just put in a smallish jar, to make it easier to shake up and store about a quarter of it in the fridge while the meat cooks.

Sauce:
1/2 c. / 125mL cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons GF soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I thought we had more in the cabinet!)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 big cloves finely chopped/crushed  garlic (or 1.5-2 tsp. garlic powder)
1 teaspoon powdered cayenne pepper (I used half cayenne and half Indian chili powder, for more complex flavor)

Put all of these in a jar, and shake to mix it up.  You may want to add more red pepper when you taste for seasonings later. I like it hot, but started off easy on it because crock pot cooking usually gives intense flavors. If you don’t like the heat so much, use less starting out. 🙂

Pour about 3/4 of the sauce over the meat and onions in the crock, then let it cook 8-10 hours overnight on the low heat setting, or probably 4-5 hours on high. You want it tender enough that it’s starting to fall apart. This batch took longer to cook, but it went in half-frozen.

Doesn’t even come close to doing it justice, but yum.

As the original recipe author put it:

remove the meat and onions to a cutting board. remove skin and set aside. using two forks (or your fingers, if you have asbestos hands), pull and shred the pork. chop the onions, and mix into the shredded meat. using a fork, remove some of the fat from under the skin, mince, and add to the shredded meat and onions as needed for moisture and flavor.

I let it cool down enough so I could handle it without burning myself. I’d actually wanted to chop instead of shred it, but that shoulder cooked with vinegar wanted to shred–it’s all good! 😉

Then I put the pulled meat back in the crock, mixed it up with the saucy juices (just about the right amount, though I was afraid it would be too juicy), let it simmer about half an hour longer on low, then tasted for seasoning. Ours needed the rest of the vinegar sauce left in the jar added, along with some extra spices and a few dashes of Tabasco. After a late brunch, we weren’t hungry again yet, so I just let it simmer on low for a couple more hours. It’s hard to get the cooking time too wrong with a crock pot.

Best served with some buns and coleslaw. (And some extra sauce on the side, but we didn’t really miss it.) As you may have noticed from the top picture, I had some trouble with that! I totally forgot to buy any GF buns, and the small store I stopped by only had savoy cabbage out. You could probably make slaw out of that, but I didn’t feel like trying today. It just wasn’t the same without slaw mounded on top. Mr. Sweden plopped some ranch dressing on his (on top of nice wheaty buns :P), and said it was pretty good.

But, toast works, and the bagged salad with homemade ranch dressing has come cabbage and carrots in there. 😀 It made a good meal, anyway!

Not surprisingly, even after the dog looked pitiful enough that he got a big plate of it too (minus salad), we had about half the batch left. It should freeze OK for later.

For one: Broccoli and feta pasta with vaguely jerk pork loin

I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve kept taking photos, but then been too tired to write things up after cooking. 🙂 If I don’t do it immediately afterward, it just doesn’t get done.

But, Mr. Sweden is on another business trip, and I thought trying to get some food blogging done might encourage me to actually cook something decent before I’m hungry enough that I just have to scrounge for something quickly. That keeps being a problem when there are no other humans here wanting food.

Today I’ll mix it up a bit, and go with the photos under desperately bad kitchen fluorescents, without the separate recipe list.

Tonight’s “what needs used up?” fare hardly warrants posting a recipe, but it did turn out tasty. I had considered making a bit of salad too, but probably couldn’t have held it after eating that plate full.

Earlier this evening, I sprinkled some dry jerk rub on a few pieces of pork loin, and let it sit a few hours in the refrigerator. That is purposely more than I needed for supper, so there would be some left over tomorrow. If I had been using the usual Rajah (yes, very Jamaican-sounding 😉 ), that would have been enough seasoning, but we have some fill-in TRS. The flavor turned out good, but not very strong with the amount used. The TRS is also not nearly as heavy on the allspice notes.

It’s not just meat; every kind of food I have put in those bowls looks weird. Bit of a shame, since I like the color on its own. Mr. Sweden usually ends up eating out of them, because it doesn’t bother him.

Once I was getting hungry, I did a little vegetable prep. First: about half a medium heading broccoli’s worth of purple sprouting broccoli, which needed cleared out to make room for the contents of a new vegbox today. (One of the best food decisions I have ever made, getting someone to bring super-fresh veggies to the door most weeks!)

It’s almost a shame to cook the purple sprouting broccoli, and muddy the colors up.

Because we got some decent-looking cherry tomatoes today, I quartered half a dozen of them too.

After that was done, I put some salted pasta water on, planning just to throw the broccoli in during the last couple of minutes’ cooking time.

While that was heating, I put a couple of cloves of garlic through the press, and mixed in a couple of pinches of smoked sea salt (mostly because it was sitting on the counter), to let it sit a while for extra flavor complexity.

Yes, Sainsbury’s is now putting out store brand versions of the little tubs of flavored Cornish Sea Salt–and Mr. Sweden keeps picking up different flavors. 😉 I assumed it was exactly the same, but the Sainsbury’s Chilli flavor is GF, unlike the name brand we picked up before in an assortment pack. (That was full of breadcrumb filler. Yuck.)

The Kitchen Supervisor supervised from the edge of a drawer I’d left open, whether I wanted him to or not. Good thing he’s so cute. 😉

Please ignore the counter clutter. That’s what I’ve been doing. Mirrors really doesn’t care.

I also took the feta out of the fridge to come up closer to room temperature, before the pasta went in, and crumbled it. That is probably a third of a 250g/about 8 oz. pack–i.e., what was left in the fridge. 😉

Once the water was boiling, I threw in about a third of a 500g bag of gluten-free spaghetti, broken in half so it didn’t break itself into even smaller pieces while cooking. (Don’t like the necessity, but every GF spaghetti I have tried has broken itself to bits if you didn’t break it first.) Penne would have been better for this dish, but we were out.

Time to put the skillet, with a very thin coating of olive oil on the bottom,  over a medium-high flame to pan-broil the meat.

Yay cast iron! This shot is blurry from the sizzling, and I had to wipe oil droplets off the lens. 🙂

When the pasta had two or three minutes left to go by taste-testing, I threw in the chopped broccoli.

After about a minute in there, it was already changing color.

While that was draining in a colander, I heated a couple of tablespoons of olive oil  (medium-low) for the garlic and spices.

The extent of the seasoning tonight. Looks like almost time to refill both bottles from bigger containers. 🙂 I’d have preferred a pepper blend in here, but black was what we had.

The garlic and spices only need to fry for 30 seconds or a minute. Then I threw in the tomatoes, just long enough to get them heated through and barely starting to soften–maybe a minute?

Looks ready to me.

When that was done, I just dumped the pasta and broccoli into that pan to get it all gently mixed up. Once it was coated in oil, I mixed in the cheese.

Pork chops waiting on a plate. Still nice and juicy; they should only need a couple of minutes on each side to get them well-cooked without drying them out.

Once the pasta is well-mixed, things should be ready to go.  This amount would probably serve two with a salad, but I’m not very good at scaling things down. 🙂

Quick GF vaguely Asian pasta with pork and cabbage

A bowl of fusilli tossed with steam-fried veggies and pork, topped with toasted black sesame seeds and nori strips

This is another in the recent series of thrown-together quick meals, which will probably be a continuing trend here. 😉

With what we had on hand, I decided to put together a quick one-dish vaguely Asian pasta meal last week. Normally, I would use longer noodles, but GF fusilli looked like a good texture option to go with the diced cooked pork I wanted to use. It would be good with pretty much any meat or some tofu pieces, but I got a bag of frozen already-cooked pork half-price at our local Iceland. 🙂 I’ve bought it before, and it’s not bad stuff. I put some out on a plate to thaw beforehand.

A bag of frozen diced pork, behind a plate with half the contents set out to thaw

Quick GF vaguely Asian pasta with pork and cabbage

  • 1/2 – 1 lb. (200-500g) meat of your choice, quickly stir-fried (or pre-cooked)
  • 2 tbsp. peanut oil
  • About a quart/litre of shredded cabbage
  • A couple of julienned carrots
  • A medium onion, halved and sliced
  • A couple of dried shiitake/Chinese black mushrooms (same thing), soaked for about half an hour in hot water, stem side down — or a few fresh mushrooms of some type
  • 1/2 lb. (250g) GF pasta, cooked with a little salt in the water
  • Seasonings: listed below

Shred and slice the veggies, and put the pasta water on. Squeeze out the soaked dried mushrooms, if you’re using them, before slicing them; save the liquid.

Prepared veggies

If you’re starting out with raw meat, cut it into bite-sized strips and let it sit with a little salt and pepper for a few minutes, then stir-fry it in the oil and set it aside.

Add a little more oil to the pan if you need to, and steam-fry the cabbage and carrots. Use the mushroom soaking liquid for extra flavor if you’ve got it; if not, water will do.

A pan of cabbage, onion, and carrot, just starting to turn translucent

It's starting to turn translucent, so time to add the seasonings!

When the cabbage and onion start to wilt and turn translucent, add the seasonings and sliced dried mushroom.

  • About a tbsp. each of minced ginger and garlic
  • 3 tbsp. GF soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. mirin (optional) — if not, use 1/2 – 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. sake, Shaoxing wine, or dry sherry
  • 1/4 tsp. coarsely ground pepper
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 tbsp. oyster sauce (optional — I had a little in a bottle to use up!)
  • For later: About 2 tsp. sesame oil, and a little chili oil (I used S&B La-Yu, which also has sesame flavor)

Continue to steam-fry for a few minutes, until the veggies are the texture you want them. If you’re using fresh mushroom, add them the last few minutes, while the lid is off to let most of the liquid evaporate. White cabbage is pretty forgiving with cooking time, so it probably won’t go too soft with a couple extra minutes.

The pan of veggies, almost done, with a little liquid still to evaporate off

This needs a little more of the liquid evaporated off, or the GF pasta will get soggy

At this point, add the meat back in to heat through for a couple of minutes. Adjust seasoning, as required.  When the meat and veggies are done, stir in the hot pasta and the sesame and chili oils.

A sprinkle of chopped cilantro would be great to garnish, but I didn’t have any. So, I used some scissored-into-strips toasted nori for flavor and color, along with the toasted black sesame seeds. It turned out really tasty.

Quick basic sausage-alike

One of the things I really missed being able to buy after I moved to the U.K. was Southern U.S. style sage-filled bulk sausage.

Zing,  zing, zing, zing, ValleydaleSource.

Here you can find bulk sausagemeat, but it’s full of gluteny rusk (so yummy-sounding! :|), and the texture and seasoning are not at all what I’m used to. So, sausage is one of the first things I found out how to make.

Note: This version is best used crumbled in recipes where you want a sausage flavor, because it’s much lower in fat. As is, it makes a tasty seasoned meat patty, but the texture is not very sausagelike. You can mince and add some pork fat if you want a more traditional sausage consistency. Sometimes I will save excess fat trimmed off chops in the freezer, to later mince finely (a food processor works well) and throw in with the commercial ground pork.

Quick basic sausage-alike

  • 1 lb. (or 400-500g) package ground pork
  • 1 – 1.5 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 – 3/4 tsp. ground pepper (preferably coarse)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 – 2 tsp. crumbled dried sage
  • About a tbsp. of cold water
  • Optional, but nice: 1 tsp. dried marjoram, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, 1/2 tsp. onion powder, few dashes celery salt, pinch of ground allspice

Very simple procedure: Mix all the seasonings into the meat, and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least a few hours (preferably overnight) before using.  It’s easiest to mix thoroughly with your hands. Try to keep it cold and not handle the mixture too much, though, or it will get tough.

For pseudo-Mexican chorizo for use in recipes: Instead of using the above seasonings, I’ve gotten pretty good results with a combination similar to this. It’s also great to substitute about half a teaspoon of Pimentón de la Vera per pound of meat, for part of the paprika.