Monday, December 3, 2007
The Bellies of the Beast
after going out of town for Thanksgiving, I finally got around to curing the bellies of the two pigs we recently purchased; it occupied almost our entire refrigerator, which to be honest is not the world's largest. They start with a basic dry cure in my fridge: purified salt, a mixture of dextrose and table sugar, and a dash of pink salt. Here are pictures of my setup, not ideal, but passable. I separate the pieces based upon thickness, rub them with cure, and put them in large plastic bags. I tape the sides and edges so that as the cure mixes with water in the meat and forms a brine, the meat stays as submerged as possible in the brine. The first pieces came out of the brine two days ago, the thinnest of the lot, and I let them sit on a rack uncovered in the fridge overnight to form a pellicle, which is to say I allowed the surface of the meat to dry out slightly so as to make it absorb more smoke (ideally they would hang for this so as to facilitate better airflow), we smoked them over apple wood yesterday for about 3 hours under a relentless barrage of sleet and rain.