Monday, 1 December 2008

Pork Processing – Belly Pork

Above are my pork purchases; the ham and two belly pieces. I also bought from the local farming supply shop the salt, the cotton sack and the 30 litre bucket ready for my few days of pork processing.

I was very pleased with the two belly pieces, as they were both quite meaty. The one on the left was earmarked for the rillettes while the one on the right for green cure bacon. The piece on the right also had the ribs too. Since neither piece was longer than 50 cm, I would guess that the right was the front half of a belly while the left the back half.

First of all, I cut out the ribs from the piece for bacon and then cut it into pieces that would be convenient for me to use. I then packed the pieces into a bowl and covered with a brine solution for 24 hours. The bowl was places out the back where it is very cool and the pieces held under the brine using a weighted plate.

Once the 24 hours was up, I dried the bacon pieces and wrapped then in pieces of the cotton sack, which is like cheesecloth and hung them up to dry for a day or so. They will only stay fresh for a week or so in the refrigerator so they will be transferred to the freezer although I might invest in a slicer and slice them before freezing.

The second piece of belly I skinned and then cut into thin strips. In the picture, the bacon pieces are at the bottom left: at the top left is a bowl containing the pork ribs and the skin from the belly. In the wok at the top right is the skin from the ham (processing in another post) and any fat I trimmed off ready for rendering.

I packed the slices of belly into a casserole along with lots of ground black pepper, some garlic and herbs. More pork fat is then added – since I make this quite often I had the fat drained off from a previous batch that’s already flavoured too. I then place a piece of the skin I remove over the top of the meat to protect it from drying out before the fat has liquefied.

The casserole is then placed in a very slow oven to let the fat flow and the meat is p
oached in the fat until it is falling apart. About 24 hours in my case as the wood range runs cool on plum wood.

Once the meat is cooked it’s placed in a sieve and the fat drained off. As I said above, I save the fat for next time, separating it from any meat juices that can be used as a base for gravy or stock.

The meat is then shredded; I have used a food processor for this but I prefer the more labour intensive method of using 2 forks, I just prefer the rougher texture. Before I’ve cubed the meat as suggested in a couple of recipes I have but I did find the shredding a lot easier this time after thinly slicing the meat first.

A final check on the seasoning and then the meat is packed firmly into jars. The top of the rillettes is then covered with a layer of melted pure pork fat. This is why I save the skin and fat I trim off; I render my own pure fat. Again the fat I was using was the fat I rendered for the last batch I made. This years is currently in the slow oven as I write. A word of caution though, remember that liquid fat is slippery especially when trying to hold a glass jar. The one in the picture was pretty near full when I tried to put it down onto the work-surface; it slipped and tipped over and it’s taken about half a day to try and clear up the mess!

This time I also heat processed the jars; not necessary if you are going to eat it over the next week or so but I make larger quantities and want it to last. I cooked the pots for 15 mins at 15 lbs pressure, which I hope will be sufficient.

While the meat was cooking I turned the ribs into Chinese style ribs. The recipe is just so simple.

Chinese spare ribs
2lb spare ribs
6 tbsp soy sauce
6 tbsp sugar
2 tsp ground ginger
1 onion peeled and quartered
3 tbsp wine.

Put all ingredients in a pan with 1 1/2 pints of water, bring to the boil, simmer for 45 minutes, turning the meat occasionally. Turn up the heat and boil for 20 mins (uncovered) to reduce the sauce, it will become thick and sticky!!!! Serve.

You can freeze them like this once they have cooled.

That’s it for the pork bellies, I was thinking about other ways to use up the fat I get from the rendering as re-using the flavoured fat means I use very little of the fresh fat and my mind wandered to soap making. I also have large quantities of wood ash with the wood-burning cooker so that will be another project to think about. Who knows maybe I can come up with a recipe to use the squeak too.


Mickle in NZ said...

Now I'm hungry. Have some spare ribs in the freezer, will cook them up tomorrow then fight off Zebbycat for eating privileges.

Thanks for the inspiration.

Anonymous said...

The many things you do amazes me! This looks great!

Anonymous said...

The rib recipe looks like the perfect remedy for this blasted easterly ice storm we are presently stuck in, thanks!
If the squeak is the skin, then look to Mexican cookery for things like chicharron recipes.