Overnight home-cured bacon chops

Overnight home-cured bacon chops

Curing meat is not the sole preserve of the experts. There are simple, small-scale curing methods that any cook can use. This is a fail-safe technique for curing pork overnight that will introduce you to the simple principles of the process, such as using salt not merely to preserve but also to intensify flavour.

Once you’ve familiarised yourself with the method, you’re only a step away from creating home-cured bacon.

SERVES

Four


INGREDIENTS

  • 4 large free-range pork chops
  • 2 tbsp sunflower or groundnut oil

For the cure

  • 50g fine sea salt
  • 25g caster sugar or soft brown sugar
  • 3 bay leaves, finely shredded
  • 12-16 juniper berries, crushed
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

METHOD

  1. Combine all the ingredients for the cure and put them into a plastic container or ceramic dish (a metal one is liable to react with the cure). Add the pork chops and rub the cure lightly all over the meat with your fingers.
  2.  Cover the container and leave in a cool place (a cool larder or fridge) overnight or for at least 12 hours, or 24 hours for extra-large or thick-cut pork chops, but no longer. Turn the chops once or twice, if you remember. Then rinse them well and pat dry.
  3. Your pork is now cured, your chops are now bacon. Use immediately or keep in a sealed container in the fridge for five to six days, and the flavour will improve. They also freeze well.
  4. To cook the chops, heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and fry them fairly gently for about six minutes per side, until cooked through. Or you can grill them, brushed lightly with oil. Season with pepper and serve with mashed potato or a mixed root mash and leeks and greens.

Variation

Home-cured bacon belly

  1. Instead of chops, use 1kg pork belly, off the bone but skin on. Cut into strips 3-4cm thick and cure in the same way, but this time for 48 hours, turning the meat over a few times. After rinsing, the strips can be kept in the fridge for five to six days, or frozen.
  2.  You’ll struggle to turn this bacon into “rashers” without a meat slicer, but – like pancetta – it’s perfect for cutting into chunks or small dice and browning gently in a frying pan to add to sauces or stews. Or try scattering fried matchsticks over salads or scrambled eggs.

Recipe from River Cottage Every Day! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury, £26)

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