I got a pound and a half of fresh pork belly at Whole Foods, and it was already cut into pieces. I normally would prefer a single piece, but in this case I figure it will be fine. I’m going to cube it up eventually anyway. I was concerned that the extra surface area might make it a bit too salty (with all other things equal), so I shortened the time to cure from 4-5 days down to 3. And it also took less time in a 200 degree oven to get up to 145 degrees (about a half hour less than the usual 2 hrs).
I dredged the slabs in a basic dry cure (recipe below) to which I added ground black pepper, coriander, brown sugar, and a bit of crushed red pepper flakes. I keep a container of the dry cure in the cupboard, use what I need for a particular recipe, and then replenish the supply every so often with the same proportions of salts and sugar. The spices change over time depending on what I’m using the pork for, and sometimes the cure for a particular cut includes juniper berries, cloves, fresh thyme, garlic, maple syrup, etc.
Basic Dry Cure from Charcuterie:
- 1 pound / 450 g kosher salt
- 8 oz / 225 g sugar
- 2 oz / 50 g pink salt (10 t)
This will end up slow cooked in the cassoulet, although I still have some reading to do before the final assembly. I’ll need to decide on which recipe to follow (since there are many), or whether I’ll pick and choose between them to come up with my own version.