I don’t know how much preserving you’ve done, but the Accidental Locavore is pretty much a novice when it comes to anything more than some simple pickles. And preserving meat through drying has always been difficult, mostly because there aren’t any safe (meaning free from potential hungry rodents) places to hang things where there is some sort of temperature control. But there are a few nooks and crannies for me to play with when it’s cold out.
When I saw a recipe recently from Jacques Pépin for saucisson of pork, I thought it might be worth a try. It was early March, the temperature in my tool room is pretty consistent and there are places to hang meat where it should be safe from marauders. Made with pork tenderloin (and coming from Jacques) it seemed so incredibly simple that I was willing to sacrifice a tenderloin to the charcuterie gods.
You cure the pork in a salt mixture overnight, wipe it dry, sprinkle it with Cognac and Herbs de Provence, wrap it in cheesecloth or muslin and hang it to dry for 5-6 weeks. Nothing to it, right? So I left it hanging from a light fixture and forgot about it.
Searching for a light bulb, I saw my saucisson dangling, a sliver of its former self. It had been a little over a month, and it seemed firm (Jacques says “I like them when they are still a little soft, not too dry”). I cut it down.
Firm is an understatement! This thing was really dried. Slicing it, even with a really sharp knife, was close to impossible. I managed to get a few slices so we could taste it. Chewing it was almost as hard as cutting it was! Now, all of this would have been workable if we were tasting something delicious (and you know we love charcuterie), but it was unbelievably salty! Somewhere in the directions, Jacques forgot to say to rinse the pork really well before wiping it dry. Going against my instincts (I’ve made the salty charcuterie mistake before) to rinse it and actually following the recipe proved to be a huge mistake!
If the dog wasn’t supposed to be on a diet, he might have been the beneficiary of what we were calling pork jerky, but sadly, it made a quick trip to the bottom of the trash can. Even more sadly, now that the weather is finally getting better, it’s going to be too warm to try another for at least another six months. Oh well, I’ll just have to go hit some golf balls.