I started writing my blog to provide answers to questions that I was asked frequently in my daily work life. More than the topics of missions or singleness or education, however, people ask about how I smoke my dried pork. So here goes. . .
Smoked pork is an Old World skill, one that I am learning from my friend and landlord who is from the former Yugoslavia. Boban’s smoked pork is part of the daily ration in our house and the centerpiece of all parties. For the gluten-privileged, the meat is perfect on top of a crusty French baguette smeared with whipped cream cheese. I love to travel with a baggie of this meat, thinly-sliced, as no refrigeration is needed, and it is cheaper (and tastier) than airport food.
- Pork Loin
Trim the pork. I generally use boneless pork loins from Costco. They are well-cut and perfectly sized. Trim as much as the fat off the outside as possible. Cut the meat in half the long way and then in half the short way for the right size. (See the diagram below.) If you use a pork tenderloin, simply trim the fat and cut about 1 inch off the thin end so that the meat is basically all the same size.
Salt the pork. Rub the pork all over with salt. This step will draw out the bacteria and moisture and make the meat safe to eat. I have experimented with various salts, but the simplest is just a regular fine grain salt or a course kosher salt. (If you want to take it next level, you can use a smoked salt like this.) You don’t have to have a crust of salt, just enough to cover the entire surface, including the ends.
Put the pork in the fridge for 24 hours. I set the pork on racks in a roaster pan so that it drains well. Don’t leave the pork more than 36 hours as the extra time will dry the meat out too much.
Prepare the smoker. If you are interested in smoked meat, you probably already have a smoker. I have seen many of you argue about the best smokers, but in my case, Boban has built a great little smoke house in the back yard and wired it for electricity.
Smoke the meat for 4-8 hours. The smoke in this case comes from a coffee can full of very dry wood chips heated by a simple soldering iron. Don’t worry about fancy wood chips because you will spend more cash for them, but the flavor does not seem to be impacted.
Leave the smoked meat to hang. Make sure that the meat is well ventilated and leave lit to hang anywhere from 7 days to 14 days. During the winter months here in California, the weather may range from 20 to 70F in a day, so the meat usually hangs 14 days. When it is warmer, the meat is ready in less time. When you squeeze it in the middle, it should feel firm, with just a little bit of give.
And, just in case you were wondering, you didn’t miss a step. This meat is not cooked. The salt does the work that heat usually does.
Slice it up. This is the step that takes the most effort. . .and muscle (unless you have a commercial meat slicer). Boban likes his sliced the short way into medallions. I slice them the long way so that it is more like a strip of jerky. You can treat it like jerky and leave it at room temperature, but I keep my extras in the freezer to preserve the taste.