On Saturday 18th March Pool Cottage Smallholding hosted another smoking and curing course. We had 2 couples attending; Tracy & Colin and Ceri & Jon, all of whom are smallholders with a range of animals. Their aim was to learn how they could cure and smoke their pigs in particular. They had come to the right place.
After a welcome brew and freshly baked ginger cookies, we jumped straight into Nelly to do a practical session on curing a pig loin to make custom bacon. Along the way we discussed the theory of curing, even getting in a bit of the chemistry behind the process. Perhaps the difference between sodium chloride, sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite may have been a bit much!
Much more interesting and useful was the sheer variety of flavourings and aromatics that can be added during curing. After much discussion a range of cures were concocted, including; treacle, treacle & smoked paprika and chilli. These were then applied to a loin and vac packed for the curing angels to do their magic.
We then retired to the garage for samples of some of our creations such as air dried coppa and smoked salmon all washed down with tea, coffee and a first try of Pool Cottage cider.
It was then right back into Nelly to produce our group’s first piece of Salumi. In this case the classic Italian lardo, which is cured back fat. Sliced wafer thin, lardo can be used in a range of classic dishes such as pizza or lightly toasted on ciabatta. Diced lardo is also a great addition to chorizo and even traditional black pudding. With our new found curing knowledge a range of lardo was created to be stored away for the next 6 months.
Following a wonderful pasta lunch with wine and more cider (and cake), it was back to lessons. The afternoon being a double period of smoking! We started by discussing the essential differences between hot and cold smoking, and looked at a range of smoking set-ups. Soon the group were cold smoking garlic and sea salt over whisky soaked oak and hot smoking salmon fillets over alder wood. More chatting ensued as we looked in detail at larger cold smoking systems and in true school style we “compared and contrasted” the different systems, (we didn’t ask for a homework essay!). Then, armed with a fork each, the hot smoked salmon was tested, well devoured, with great satisfaction.
With both the theory and practical aspects completed, it was time to relax and talk over the day, smallholding in general, as well as putting the world to rights, all over a glass or two of cider and ale, before departing with goody bags full of bacon, lardo, garlic and sea salt.
All in all a great day.