[Current as of January 2020.]
Among my many culinary experiments, one of my most successful ones has been meat curing. Fairly easy, and the result is pure meat candy.
Prague powder (AKA Instacure #2)
A precise (ideally sub-gram) kitchen scale
Cheese cloth and string
Space in a clean fridge
Optionally (but a good idea) spices for a dry rub
I’ve had most success curing tender cuts of beef. Filet mignon is best, but tenderloin works too. To not make too much at a time, I typically use cuts of 1/2lb to 1lb.
I’ve also used pork, which gives an approximation of prosciutto crudo. I’ve had success with pork roasts, but pork shoulder would be more authentic. These tend to be larger cuts (2+lbs), though, but leftover cured pork is great for making pâté de campagne.
The instructions below should also work well for various game meats. Don’t attempt with poultry, though, unless you want to risk salmonella.
I use dry curing.
Measure 1tsp Prague powder per 5lbs of meat (so, a fraction of a tsp for the cuts I use), then add enough salt to end up with 3% of the meat’s weight total.
Mix the two well.
Rub all sides of the meat with the mix.
Put in a ziploc bag, get the air out, close.
Keep in the fridge 5-7 days, flipping evey day. Salt travels in the meat about 1/4in a day, and we want it to get everywhere.
After salting is done, rince the meat to remove excess salt.
Dry with a paper towel.
Optionally, add a dry rub (see below).
Wrap tightly in cheese cloth, and tie the whole thing with string.
Put in the fridge, ideally on some sort of raised grill to help air circulate on all sides.
Once the meat has lost 30-35% of its original weight, it’s safe to eat.
Once the meat is ready, I like to cut it into bite-sized pieces all at once, then keep them in the fridge in a plastic container. That way, they’re ready to eat whenever I want a quick snack.
Cured meat keeps for weeks, if not months (that’s kind of the point). In a sealed plastic container, it will keep its remaining moisture, so it won’t become dry and hard.
I like the following dry rub with beef. Pork is better without a rub, in my opinion.
3tsp paprika (smoked is best)
2tsp brown sugar
2tsp garlic powder
1tsp onion powder
1/2tsp black pepper
When curing meat, mold can be an issue. I have not had problems with mold myself, but just be aware. Apparently, not all molds are dangerous, but you’ll want to read up on that more.
Some people smoke their meat between salting it and drying it. I have not tried it myself, but it sounds delicious.