Salt Pork

This post is part of my ongoing charcuterie project. See my original writeup for further background.

Salt pork is easily the simplest item I’ve made so far for this project. The ingredient list is wonderfully simple: a basic dry cure (sugar, salt, nitrite), and chunked pork trimmings. As I understand it, salt pork is typically used differently today than it has been historically. Its role now is mostly seasoning, as an enhancer cooked into sauces and soups and stews. When cured and stored correctly, however, the book indicates that salt pork can keep for 2 years or more at room temperature. This was pretty significant if you were an enterprising young cook before refrigeration was a real thing.

For my salt pork, I used the trimmings from a large slab or pork belly I squared off to make pancetta. There wasn’t much more to it. I thoroughly covered the fatty pieces of pork in my dry cure and put it in the refrigerator for 6 days, mixing it up every other day.

If you were to actually use the salt pork by itself, it would be important to rehydrate it in water. So far we’ve mostly just been simmering a piece or two with spaghetti sauces we’ve made for some added gusto. Doing so does extract quite a bit of saltiness from the pork though, so you need to be careful. Used correctly though, salt pork is another great example of the transformative properties of salt and pork and time.

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