Category Archives: Cookery

I am attempting to learn some rudimentary culinary skills. I document my kitchen adventures here.

Cured Pork Loin

A couple of months ago, I got to attend a really cool class on how to disassemble a pig and turn it into various sausages, pâtés, and other items of charcuterie. I have been putting off writing my thoughts about this class, because they are numerous, and because they are not entirely coherent. It would have been a preferable to have written that entry before this one, but I didn’t.

Before we dive in; a disclaimer. This post is my best recollection of the process I followed in the creation of my cured pork loin. I ate it, and nothing bad happened to me. If you do this and something bad happens to you, that is on you. I will not be held accountable if you do something wrong and get food poisoning or flatulence or something.

A Boneless Pork Loin Roast

So, anyway, I went to the grocery store to get a pork roast. Obviously, locally-raised, specialty-breed pork would have been preferable to grocery store rubbish. But, I really didn’t want to take a chance on ruining a quality piece of meat on my first attempt at this. I came home with about 2 pounds of pork loin roast.

The loin comes from the middle of the pig’s back.

I found a recipe somewhere online, but I forget where. Apologies to whomever I’m plagiarizing. All ingredients are a percentage of the weight on the pork. You are going to want to do this in grams. The math will get very ugly unless you do it in metric.

IngredientAmount
Pork loin 100%
Kosher Salt 1%
Clove 1 Clove
Cure #2 0.25%
Juniper 0.20%
Fennel Seed 0.50%
Cinnamon 0.07%

In my case, my pork loin weighed 956 grams, so I needed about 31.5g of salt, because 956 x 0.033 = 31.584. Get it? Easy. I made a google spreadsheet to keep track.

Mix up all your spices and rub it all over the meat. Cover every surface. Massage it in. Then put it in a ziplock and toss it in the fridge for like 2 weeks. I think the amount of time in the fridge varies with the weight or thickness of the meat. I forget. You will want to research that.

Pork loin all covered in salt / spice mixture

Flip it over every other day or thereabouts. It will be releasing water, and you don’t want one side soaking in it while the other is high and dry. After the two weeks is up, take it out and rinse it off. It will probably feel firmer and denser now that it has lost a bit of water.. Now, you can roll it around in whatever spice mix strikes your fancy. I used black pepper, possibly chili pepper. I should have written it down, but I didn’t. I like spicy things, so there’s a good chance that I used whatever looked spicy in the spice cabinet.

Now, tie it up good with some butcher twine and weigh it. Make sure you write down what it weighs.

tied and spiced. Starting weight is 972g

Now you know your starting weight, so you can compute your target weight. Target weight should be about 65% of the starting weight. The idea here is that you want to reduce the amount of water in the pork, so that nasty bacteria and stuff don’t have enough available water to work mischief on your product. So write down your starting and target weight. It’s not a bad idea to write them on a tag that hangs on the string with them.

Now, you just hang it someplace with lowish temperature, and high-ish humidity until the weight drops to your target. I hung mine in my basement. The temperature was probably in the 50s F and humidity was around 70-80%. This is way too much humidity, but the basement is was it is, and I wasn’t about to go out an build a fancy charcuterie chamber. I bought a bluetooth temperature / humidity monitor to keep an eye on things.

Temperature and Humidity fluctuate in my basement.

After a few weeks, it started to grow a furry green mold. It was kind of freaking me out, and so I wiped it off with a paper towel soaked in vinegar, re-peppered it and hung it back up.

Funky green mold

After that, I weighed it about every other week, and wrote down the weight. Then, I got busy and totally forgot about this whole project. When I finally remembered, I had overshot the moisture loss mark by quite a lot. My loin had lost over 50% of the starting weight. It was on its way to being pork jerky.

Lost way too much water. Not that it hurts anything

Some people have asked me about the white stuff on the outside. That is mold. I don’t know what type exactly. It grew there of its own accord without my encouragement, and in spite of my efforts to remove it. If you are allergic to penicillin, you may want to be careful about that.

I sliced it open for the first time yesterday. It had a very nice flavor. It was a little chewy, I presume because it had lost so much moisture. I also don’t have a slicer or the knife skills to get the wafer-thin slices that would be ideal.

Nice color. I suspect the marbling would be better in a different breed of hog

I will definitely be having another go at this in the fall. The climate of my basement is probably too warm to attempt this in the summer months.

If you are planning to have a go at making one of these, you will want more info than I’m providing here. There are several good books on this topic. You may want to check those out.

Sauerkraut

Grilled Tuna with Mango Salsa

I was in charge of dinner yesterday. I spent the better part of the morning poking around on the Youtube watching cooking videos until I found something that looked like a nice dinner.

So, I went to the store in search of ingredients. They only had frozen swordfish, and I didn’t have all day to dick around waiting for things to thaw out, so I got some yellowfin tuna steaks instead. The fishmonger said that those would probably work out better anyhow.

So, I marinated them, and put them on the grill. Look at those grill marks! You’d be forgiven for thinking I know what I’m doing out there, but mostly, I just got lucky.

Get a load of 'em grill marks!
Get a load of ’em grill marks!

Look-it there! I barely even know how to cook, and this is what I ended up with.

Grilled Tuna with Mango Salsa

This is probably my most successful foray into cookery thus far.