Corned pork is salted/pickled pork that Jamaicans use in stews or in combination with beans, Ackee or soups. It is difficult to get corned pork in the United States from Jamaica, so I am showing you that with the right cut of pork, you can make this at home for yourself.
Cut of Meat:
To corn pork, it’s best to use fatty cuts of meat. Choose a cut of meat with some fat and avoid the leaner cuts of pork. Since corning pork requires the use of lots of salt, it’s always best that it is on meat with some fat and skin. Non-fatty cuts will become dry and stringy. For this recipe I used pork belly. Try to find cuts of pork belly that have good ribbons of meat vs. fat. Before adding corned pork to a dish it is usually fried so you want to have a good amount of meat remaining after the fat is rendered. I chose pork belly also because of the skin. Corned pork is traditionally made with pork that has the skin on. If you don’t like the skin, choose a cut with the skin off but be sure not to compromise on the fat.
I prefer to use coarse Kosher salt for corning pork. You will need to use a lot more salt if you choose fine salt. Corning pork is a waiting game and it takes a few weeks for the meat to be ready for cooking. Coarse salt will break down slower than finer salt making for an even and deep brine.
There are some corning brines that just use salt and a little pepper. Jamaican corned pork incorporates lots of spices for deeper flavors. To corn pork I use garlic, pimento berries, thyme, scallions, peppercorns and lots of salt. Once you taste this corned pork you will understand why.
After adding all the spices and salt to the meat, it needs to sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks before it will be ready to cook. Trying it before then will just give you salty meat with little flavor. Longer than two weeks is even better. The best corned pork I’ve had, is the one I forgot I made and found it in the back of the refrigerator. The rule is the longer the wait, the better the meat. If you are worried about the meat going bad, you have little to worry about. It must be kept in the fridge, preferably on one of the higher shelves so that it will stay colder. You must also mix the salt all over the meat so all parts of it have a chance to sit in the salt. The salt and the cold air will keep it good for a long time.
For this recipe you will need:
- Mortar and Pestle
- Large Bowl with lid
- Sharp knife
- Cutting board
- 1 disposable glove
- 3lbs pork belly
- Handful of fresh thyme
- 4 scallions
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp whole peppercorns (1 tbsp ground)
- 15 pimento berries
- 2 tbsp meat seasoning
- 1 cup coarse Kosher salt
- Wash thyme, scallions and pepper. Cut thyme stems in half. Add to the bowl with pork belly. Split scallions into 4 pieces. Slice scotch bonnets and add both scallions and pepper slices to the bowl.
- Mash garlic cloves by covering them with the flat side of the knife’s blade and pressing down. Remove skin from the cloves, slice them in about 4 pieces and add them to the bowl.
- In a mortar and pestle, crush peppercorns and add them to the bowl. Crush the pimento berries and also add them to the bowl. Crush each just so they are open. Do not grind them down to a powder.
- Add meat seasoning and Kosher salt.
- Wear a disposable glove to cover your hands. Massage the salt and spices into the meat until full coated. Cover the bowl and place in the back of the fridge for at least 2 weeks.