This blog is fast becoming a mix of salted dried meat and vegetarian recipes by the looks of what I have posted recently – and frankly I am rather enjoying it!
This is the latest in my meat curing expedition, and whilst I have most likely only eaten 15 slices of it, I would consider it a favorite. Lonzino is a section of pork loin that has been cured then air dried. A very simple whole muscle cure that has a wonderful tenderness to it, with clean pronounced flavors, possibly thanks to the low amount of fat in each slice. It is pretty much the pork version of bresaola – the cured air dried beef eye of round that seems popular these days (especially with me!!)
Some may recall that I did a quick video of the making of this thing, back in beginning of October. Seems like whenever I do something like that, I go and jinx the bloody thing and it ends up getting all manner of nasty mold on it, and eventually crawls off the to trash can. Thankfully this time that isn’t the case – it has dried extremely well, possibly the most trouble free cure I have done to date.
The meat itself might look like it is wrapped in thin brown paper (see the photo above), but that is actually a beef bung casing – a section of cow gut that is large enough to stuff a pretty decent sized piece of meat in to. WOW, that sounds appetizing doesn’t it.. Well the beef bung is a casing I consider inedible, when it dries it goes very much like a very strong thin paper, and isn’t something I would want to chew through. Before slicing I peel back the casing enough to slice whatever I need.
The casing is there to help slow down the drying process, and to help the whole thing dry more evenly. This helps prevent the outside drying faster than the interior, which is almost inevitable when you start dealing with large diameter pieces of meat, unless you do something like case them or wrap them in cheesecloth.
When trimming this thing up I thought it would be rather lovely to leave a little fat on it, just to help give a silkier mouth-feel. That turned out to be a good plan. The actual muscle is pretty lean, and the fat certainly helps to give a good texture and flavor balance.
Now, many would argue that you can never have too much cured meat (OK, maybe it is just me that argues that with other people..) but I have been racking my brains as to what to do with this cut. I absolutely love it by itself, with some salad and cheese, but I am thinking what else I could use it in. Then I thought crepe. Holy crap. Instead of the ham in a “la complete” crepe, I could use Lonzino.
OK.. now I am cutting this post off early to go make a crepe. More on that little gem later!
Recipe for air dried pork loin (lonzino)
NOTE: Cure ingredients are given here as percentage of the total meat weight, after trimming. Since you aren’t going to have exactly the same weight of meat as me, it is best to work out your cure ingredients based on these percentages.
Pork loin – 1082g
Salt – 36g (3.3%)
Black Pepper 10.8g (1%)
Cure #2 2.7g (0.25%)
Juniper Berry 1.6g (0.15%)
Fennel Seed 3g (0.27%)
Dried Bay Leaf – 0.4g – about 2 leaves
casing – beef or pork 3.5″ diameter
Trim away any nasty looking stuff from the meat – blood spots and so on. Wash gently, dry well.
Grind up all the cure ingredients in a spice grinder until finely ground. Put the meat in a large zip lock bag, and rub the cure all over. Seal the bag, and put in the fridge for 10 days. Every couple of days rub the meat through the back, helping to distribute the cure well.
Soak the casing in room temperature water with a splash of white vinegar in for at least 1 hour – you can leave it for 6 hours or so no problem. Rinse the casing through a couple of times with clean water. Squeeze as much water as possible from the casing.
Gently stuff the meat in to the casing. Tie off both ends using a bubble knot (info on this kind of knot is here: http://mattikaarts.com/blog/charcuterie/making-salami-at-home/).
Tie the meat up, using butchers loops and knots, much the same way you would tie a roast. The video above shows the basics, and I have another video coming showing how to do this fully.
Hang to air dry at 55F, 75% humidity with gentle airflow for about a month – until the meat has lost 35% of its weight.
Slice thinly to serve.
Cure #2 is a mix of salt, nitrate and nitrite and is crucial in safe meat curing at home (it isn’t strictly required for whole muscle curing like lonzino however). You can order some online from here: http://www.sausagemaker.com/