Pauline's Ham in a Bag

About a year ago I replied to a comment on Pauline's Ham and said: "...I have done this cure with a lot less liquid by using a vacuum bag and just putting 100 - 200 ml of brine cure in with the meat (after injecting, of course)." It was my intention, at that time, to write further about this with an explanation and more detail.

Ham cured in a bag

Contrary to popular belief, the reason's not because I'm tight-fisted! There are also some technical reasons why it's a good idea. They're not related to injection-curing; it's the immersion part of the cure that's the potential cause for concern.

The recipe and further details are here » »

Bacon Cure Calculator

The Cure Calculator is here » »
Cured Back Bacon

Whilst there are already quite a few cure calculators for bacon on this site, none allow you to choose your own levels of salt, sugar etc. This one enables you to do just that whilst still curing to either EU or US commercial standards...

The Cure Calculator is here » »

Confit Duck Legs

Those who've been following the last few projects can probably see where this will end up. I've made Ventrèche, a Gascon bacon, along with Toulouse Sausage. Now I'm making Confit Duck. It don't take a genius to work out that sooner or later there'll be a recipe for Cassoulet!

There's method in my madness, but you've got to go back to just before Christmas before it becomes clear (well as clear as mud!). You see, it started with some ducks!

Let me explain - I know that I pride myself on supporting local food producers, but when just before Christmas I saw this:

Cheap Duck

Well really, what would you do? I'm no hero, I did the same! So now we've got a freezer full of ducks.

All that was left for me to do was convince Pauline to eat them!

I thought I'd take a two pronged approach - serving just the breast at one meal and the confit leg in a cassoulet at another. We've had tinned cassoulet in France so she's used to it. It would just be the inclusion of duck that would be new as it doesn't feature in products at the cheaper end of the range. (Blimey, I've just looked a tinned cassoulet online - some of it's over a tenner a time!) Anyway, back to the duck. I cut it into pieces:

Jointed Ducks

Then salted the legs overnight with garlic, thyme, and 2gm sea salt per 100gm of meat.

The duck curing in salt, thyme and garlic

In the meantime I roasted the duck carcass to render it's fat.

Duck fat

It was this, along with some bought duck fat, that the duck (after it had been rinsed of the herbs and salt) was cooked in the following day. I shall try and avoid buying duck fat in future; it's dearer than the duck! Anyway, the legs sat submerged in the fat at 100°C for about 4 hours. I'm now storing it for a few days 'to mature' before I use it for cassoulet.

Confit of duck legs

And, the breasts? Well, this snapshot doesn't do justice to the duck with cherry sauce looking, as it does, like a dog's dinner:

Duck breast with cherry sauce

It tasted superb though.

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Lomo embuchado

It seems an age since I started this last batch of cures, although it's only just over 6 weeks - not long when air drying meat. However, the Lomo that was cased for drying in late February, dried more quickly that I expected and has been ready for a while.


To recap, I started by cutting the 'eye' from a loin of pork (It's the meaty bit that you get in a pork chop!):

Pork Loin for Lomo

It was dry cured in a vacuum bag with Spanish smoked paprika, black pepper and garlic for a couple of weeks:

Pork Loin Curing

The cured Lomo was rinsed and then dried overnight in the fridge...

The Lomo after curing

...before being cased in a large collagen casing and tied:

The Lomo after curing

Click here, there's more to read...

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Pancetta de Thurlaston

Doh! I left the pancetta to dry far more than I'd intended. It doesn't need to dry nearly as much when it's for cooking as it does for eating uncooked.

Flat Pancetta Stessa

It was left until it had lost 35% of its starting weight. 20 - 25% would have been plenty. Oh well, never mind. The taste'll be all the better for it.

This was made to the previous Pancetta di Thurlaston recipe except that I had no juniper to hand.

I've sliced some of it thinly for wrapping things like chicken breasts, other pieces have been cut into chunks for putting into casseroles and bean dishes. I'll write more about these in due course.

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