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The first thing we do in the Kitchen is make a little plan- with this lovely large whole Middle section-the belly- what can we make? We opted for a trio of delicious and versatile products using three techniques: salt curing, hot smoking, and braising.
Discussing the qualities of the meat- How big is it? How much does it weigh? What’s the best usage for each part? How much will we trim off? Just the teat line and mammary glands. Notice the firmer upper part that covered the ribcage and lies just below the loin? What about those meaty pads with layers of soft fat toward the ham end? Each section of the belly primal has purpose.
Step #1 in making the vèntreche roulée is trimming. Trimming is understanding the cut of meat. Here, this softer flap of fat and glands are trimmed off. They will be used in paté.
Because we wanted to make three different belly products- we divided the large trimmed square of meat into two; one-third we’ll keep for a hot smoked American-style bacon and the other two-thirds will become our classic French vèntreche roulée.
Our product #2-the hot smoked bacon- gets a sweet and spicy rub based on a recipe by Charcuterie Jam Pal Craig Diehl. His delicious recipes are available to taste in person at Artisan Meat Share in Charleston, South Carolina. Student Chuck Lee worked with Craig before coming to Camont for further study and he shared the molasses based bacon rub with us in class.
Next Tish and David decide on how to trim and divide the meaty Ham end of the belly for product #3. We’ve decided to make a classic French braised pork belly demi-sel or half salted with a spicy twist using a recipe from that great Stephane Reynaud book ‘Pork & Sons’. First we’ll lightly salt the pork overnight, then brush off all the salt and let it rest. Spicy Pork Belly Confit will be poached in a curry and saffron white wine broth and cooked very slowly for 3 hours until the bouillon has reduced to a deep glaze. Stay tuned for lunch on Friday!
And now the part you have been waiting for- Step #2 in making the vèntreche roulée. Salting…
We weighed the slab of well trimmed pork belly now. Turns out David is ace at guessing weights- and he honed in on 3 kilos. Since we are going to leave the rind on this vèntreche when we roll it, I want to make sure we have enough salt and leave it on long enough to penetrate the fat and meat layers. I am using a standard 3% salt measurement (or 90 grams of salt- 30 gr per kilo) and will rub it on all surfaces and leave on for 5-7 days. Just salt. This is an exercise in salting and curing and we have not started using curing additives yet. This is our base line project.
Salting is science, art, and alchemy. Salt is comprised mainly of sodium chloride (NaCl) as well as a bouquet of complex minerals and natural compounds. This is the salt I use at Camont- a naturally evaporated salt from the salt springs at Salies de Béarn near the Pyrenees. This is the only salt now used to produce the famous Jambons de Bayonne.
- How much salt? approximately 3% of the weight of your piece of pork belly.
- Rub in very well until there is just an even covering of salt sticking to the meat.
- Place rind side down on a tray or shallow pan.
- Put in refrigerator and keep there for 5-7 days.
Next week, we’ll remove the belly from the fridge and do Step #3 in making a ventrèche roulée. This is where we are going: