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Guest blogger – Mr Neil, master butcher!

Neil has the pork belly curing!! Here are some pictures and commentary of the process which took place this weekend,

Supplies pulled out, ready to go:


Close-up of the nutmeg, cross-section as it’s been ground…


It’s an interesting spice. I’ve started to find it cropping up in all sorts of places: it’s not just for egg nog! :-)

Crushed juniper berries:


Very aromatic, if the kitchen was not in such a state of disarray, I would have immediately prepared myself a summer G+T. Truly, can anyone (quickly) think of any other item where juniper berries are so front-and-centre?

Pancetta curing mix, complete:


This is the general Dry Cure mix…will last for a few months.
 
A chef friend had mentioned LAMB BELLY is divine, so might try that as well…but will have to wait until we return from Laos, as I’ve just barely squeezed this in, in sufficient time to hang before leaving.

Doesn’t this look gorgeous, close-up? (Well for you non-vegetarians out there, that is…)


(Editor’s note – Neil will be using his Lumix for future shots,e specially close ups!)



But look how HUGE this belly is, once out and ready to go! And George was not a large pig…though I forgot to find out the breed. He wouldn’t have been a Berkshire, at any rate — I think too big. He had a healthy diet, and you can tell by how “fresh” it smells. None of that chemically-meaty smell. Just freshness. To be honest, I felt I could just nick a bit off and eat.
 
Due to the size, I ended up measuring and decided to make three different curing batches. They say it’s important to closely fit the container. So I used large Ziploc freezer bags.


So when all was over and cleanup process complete (needless to say floors needed a wash with the various salts, sugars and spices that fell during the whole episode), I noticed some rather strange marks on our cutting board.
 
See…
 
 
I’m not sure what it is — they look like acid burn marks. If you look closely at the picture of the crushed juniper berries you can see some salts in that corner – must be it. But those were just kosher salts…not the pink stuff.
 
What on earth would cause that? I’ve re-oiled the block today…with no luck.

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2 Responses to Guest blogger – Mr Neil, master butcher!

  1. The Best Family July 13, 2009 at 04:45 #

    very interesting! i can't believe the size of that pork belly. this is going to be a fun process to watch. as for those purple marks on the cutting board, could it have been dye from the juniper berries?

  2. Neil C. Phillips July 13, 2009 at 10:02 #

    Nope – definitely not the juniper.

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