One of the things I enjoy about living the way that we do is having the opportunity to rediscover old foods and redact them into useable recipes.
My most recent project was coming up with useable version of boiled, salt pork—a seasonal dish that would once have been a staple from September to March when cold weather and salt would have been combined to preserve the meat of the autumn-killed pig.
I found several recipes from the 1700s and 1800s, but the easiest starting point was Mrs Beeton’s recipe for boiled leg of salt pork.
I didn’t want to risk a whole leg, so for my first attempt I used a fresh 1.5kg gigot joint.
I rubbed 60g of cooking salt into the joint, then placed the joint in a food-grade plastic tub and sealed the lid, then stored the joint in the refrigerator for seven days.
Each day, I drained off the liquid that had come out of the joint and then rubbed a further tablespoon of salt into the pork.
After seven days, I rinsed the joint in cold, running water and placed it in a large pan, before covering it with cold water.
I also added 10 pepper corns, 10 all-spice berries, a peeled onion stuffed with six cloves, a couple of coarsely diced carrots, a celery stalk and three peeled cloves of garlic to the water.
The water was slowly brought to the boil over half an hour, while I skimmed off the scum that rose to the surface as it did.
The joint was slowly simmered for five hours, after which I scooped out the spices and vegetables with a slotted spoon.
Two peeled and diced carrots, a peeled and diced swede, and four peeled and diced potatoes were added to the pan, before the joint was simmered for a further hour—until the meat and vegetables were tender.
The joint was lifted from the pan and drained on a wire rack over a baking tray, with the juices being returned to the pan.
The joint was cut in thin slices, which were then served with the vegetables and a drizzle of the liquor from the pan. The remaining liquor was used to cook pea soup the next day (refrigerating it made it easy to lift the congealed fat off it the next day).
As for the results, the pork was superbly flavoured while the vegetables were also very good. The meat was equally good served cold on sandwiches or fried with eggs for breakfast.
The pea soup was also good, although I had to add 500ml of fresh water as the initial liquor was a little too salty for my taste.
The joint provided enough meat for four meals, while the pea soup provided enough for three, making it a very economical dish.
Next time, I might make an old-fashioned pease pudding in the liquor and serve that with the pork.