I had a meeting this week with Graham Waddington of Native Breeds, the Gloucestershire-based charcuterie. Graham explained to me the science behind why it is so good to brine meat before cooking it so I decided to take his advice and the results have been pretty sensational.
I ended up cooking a pork recipe that is the epitome of slow cooking and quite unbelievably delicious. It’s based on the Japanese recipe for braised pork called buta no kakuni – although I added the brining and marinating stages before cooking the meat to further improve the texture and flavour of the pork.
I took a quarter belly of pork, skinned and boned it. I cut it into chunks and put it into a light brine (50g salt, 50g sugar and 500ml water) for 24 hours. I then put it into a marinade of rice vinegar, soy sauce, grated ginger, sesame oil and honey for 12 hours.
Next, I removed the pork chunks from the marinade and sautéd them until browned all over. I then put them into a heavy saucepan, with the marinade poured back over them plus some extra water to cover them. I cooked them (with lid on) for 3 hours at 130C.
I have now ended up with the most beautiful result: melt in the mouth, sweet, flavoursome meat that has been well worth every minute of the preparation time. This was a trial run but I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I’ll be doing this again…and very soon.
For my next batch, I plan to serve the pork with plain rice or rice noodles, some baby pak choi or broccoli with wasabi and a good spoonful of the nectarous cooking juices. As for the pork from the trial run…I don’t think there’s going to be any left by the time I cook some rice.