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Jan 24, 2009 01:21 PM

Dry Cure for Pork Belly?

So, I assume this is somewhat rudimentary for some of you, but I grabbed a pork belly from the asian market the other day. It made sense to just rub some salt/spices, let it sit in the fridge for about a week, and run a bake skin down, and then broil skin up, but it seems like all the recipes start without a dry cure. Is this a useless step, or unusual for this application? Should I have measured out specific amounts of salt? Its been with a relatively healthy coat of salt and brown sugar uncovered in the fridge for a week, is there possibility that it is spoiled? If it is safe, what do you guys suggest I do next.

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  1. assuming you cured it properly (draining the leached liquid regularly & re-applying some of the curing spices) it shouldn't be spoiled...although next time i'd suggest keeping it covered. anyway, you made bacon.

    1. If the smell doesn't make you gag, it's good. (I had an unpleasant experience this morning.) A week is a bit long, though. I wouldn't cure anything for more than 5 days.

      If it's a lot of salt, you might want to rinse it before cooking.

      1. Here's a recipe for 'Petit Sale with Lentils' that salts a piece of pork belly and keeps it in the fridge for about 7 days. Fergus Henderson uses a wet brine for 10 days..

        here's another
        with 5 days, noting that after a day liquid is leached from the meat.

        A search on 'petit sale' should turn up other recipes for making and using a salt cured piece of pork (whether done at home or by the butcher), French style.

        Depending on how salty the meat is now, you may want to soak it before roasting, or simmer it in water. It may be too salty to roast directly.

        1. Use Mortons tender -quick, you can dry rub it or brine,. If you want an oriental flavor add a good amount of five-spice to the rub/brine, I wouldn't use any fresh pork that's been in the fridge a week without curing/smoking.

          1. Michael Ruhlman, in Charcuterie, recommends a wet cure with spices, salt and pink salt which is a nitrite mixture to prevent botulism and other badies. Then a dry cure in a cool, dark, humid place for a couple of weeks to cure pork belly. Light also harms fat. Personally, I wouldn't take chances with something that could kill me.

            5 Replies
            1. re: ligature

              If my memory of a recent thread about nitrates is correct, worries about botulism are relevant when dealing with stuffed products like salami, and much less so when curing a solid piece of meat like a belly slab.

              1. re: paulj

                Nitrites and nitrates are different. The chance of botulism is very small, but do you really want to take a chance with a deadly nerve toxin?

                1. re: ligature

                  If this statement by the CDC is true
                  "Because the botulism toxin is destroyed by high temperatures, persons who eat home-canned foods should consider boiling the food for 10 minutes before eating it to ensure safety."

                  I don't see how a piece of home curred pork belly could be a source of botulism. Even if the botulism did develop, the cooking need to desalt and tenderize the meat would destroy the toxin. Botulism in home canned pickles, or home made salami that is eaten without further cooking is possibility.

                  "Outbreaks of foodborne botulism involving two or more persons occur most years and usually caused by eating contaminated home-canned foods. "

                  "Clostridium botulinum is the name of a group of bacteria commonly found in soil. These rod-shaped organisms grow best in low oxygen conditions."
                  the surface of a salted piece of pork belly in the fridge is not a low oxygen environment. Tightly wrapping that meat in plastic during that curing would be more dangerous.

                  1. re: paulj

                    I thought the point of dry curing pork belly was so that you didn't have to cook it.

                    1. re: ligature

                      The point of dry-curing pork belly is to enhance the flavor and turn it into something akin to unrolled pancetta.