Suggestions for what to do with a belly of pork

Sometimes we purchase half a pig which gives us lots of belly of pork. There are several wonderful dishes in which I like using belly of pork, the simplest being to bone it, roll it up with a stuffing mixture inside, tie it with string and roast for about 25 minutes a pound (that’s per 454grams for those who do both). A tip we picked up from Lisa (middle daughter), was to slice up a couple of apples (they can be eating apples or cookers) and put them under the pork when it goes in the oven. You get lovely roasted apple sauce and even the cooking apples come out sweet.

We have wanted to make bacon for a long time now but we don’t have the right tools or a smoker, both our fires are enclosed woodburning stoves so we have no way of smoking food currently.

What we do is a dry cured belly pork that can be used as lardons or if you have a slicer and I’m jealous if you do, then you could get proper rashers. I suggest you try a smallish piece of belly of pork first if you want to have a go at making bacon as this will fit into the fridge better.

We had one side of a belly which gives you quite a few meals.

Cut off a piece for the bacon from the fatty end and de-bone it.

Remove the rind from the rest by separating from the fat with a sharp knife. It works free from the fat reasonably easily. Work the knife under the rind and gently push it through the fat, a bit of a sawing action and it should all come off in one piece, hopefully without your finger(s) also becoming detached!

Put the rind on a baking tray and cook in a high oven until crispy. If you salt it well first you get pork scratchings. We do it for about 45 minutes plus at 180 degrees C, checking every few minutes after that to make sure it doesn’t burn. Bring it out when it crispy.

Then with the rest of the belly:

Remove most of the meat from the bones section but leave enough on there for a nice rack of ribs. You can cook this up for dinner in this sauce I tried on the Cottage smallholders web site (thanks Fi) – which links to Nigel slaters recipe on the BBC food website.

Then you have a good batch of meat that can be minced or run through a food processor for pork balls, pork pies, sausages, sausage rolls or many other pork dishes. If you don’t want to decide just now freeze it in bags, we make our own sausages so I don’t freeze it.

Back to the bacon

You need

A plastic tub with a fitted lid that will fit in the fridge and is big enough to allow the bacon to lie flat. (I have used a bucket which has only ever been used for curing meat cooled by ice blocks, I only do this in the winter as you need a cold room where pests cannot get to it and a cover with good weights.

Your slice of Belly pork  – I have just made about a pound in weight (454grams).

Salt cure mix. I made up a half kilo salt cure per pound of belly but if you are using a big bit of belly pork then 1.5 kilos of salt should do up to about 3 kilos of bacon. You can always make a bit more cure if you need to.

Salt cure recipe

500 grams salt. This is the basic half kilo recipe, just increase all the ingredients for your size of belly pork.

100 grams dark brown sugar.

a teaspoon of course ground black pepper or crushed pepper corns.

Mix this together and keep it in a plastic tub with a lid on or a plastic bag tied up.

Get your belly (no not YOUR belly, the pork belly) and rub a good handful of the salt cure on one side and then the other. Rub into the sides and ends as well. This is the most important bit so give it a good rub.

Then put it in the plastic container, lid on and pop it into the fridge. Repeat this every day for 5 days and you have old fashioned, dry cured bacon.  You must wash the tub out each day and give it a good dry before putting the pork back in, then once the 5 days are up give the bacon a wash under the tap and pat dry with a bit of kitchen towel.

Once it’s ready keep the bacon wrapped in cling film in the fridge and use within two weeks.

Now slice it as thinly as possible to have as rashers, you may need to soak it in water for a couple of hours first as believe it or not it can be too salty. We also use it in chunks in Wilfs simple bean stew (or soup).


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