Lonza is air-dried cured pork loin; the loin is boneless and can be cured whole with the skin on or removed. It is a very simple curing project and by following a few simple steps it can be ready within 4-6 weeks. Lonza is similar to prosciutto in taste and texture, but unlike prosciutto it doesn’t take a year to prepare. The smaller cut of meat and quicker preparation time means Lonza is essentially a ‘poor mans prosciutto’.
Lonza can be made lean with the fat removed or with the fat left on; it’s a matter if personal preference. I asked for the fattiest piece possible from the farmer when I placed my order. I think leaving the fat on gives a better finished product as the meat doesn’t dry out too quickly during the drying process. I also think leaving the fat on gives the lonza a better flavour. You can have the fat removed if you like, it’s really just up to personal preference.
For this recipe, or any charcuterie recipes as a matter of fact, you should try to start with good quality pork to end up with a better finished product at the end. As the meat is dries the flavour intensifies, so if you start with a lower quality product that is quite bland you will not get as rich a flavour at the end. If you want to make charcuterie at home buy the best quality meat you can afford. As pork (loin in particular) is generally quite lean, it can lack flavour. The flavour of the pork is quite heavily influenced by the diet of the pig. If you can buy organic farmed meat as opposed to factory farmed meat as you will definitely notice the difference.
1984g pork loin, excess fat trimmed (100%)
65.5g Tasman sea salt (3.3%)
5g insta-cure #2 (0.25%)
10g Tasmanian pepperberries, coarsely ground (0.5%)
4g pepperberry leaves, crumpled (0.2%)
5-6 juniper berries, crushed
19.8g fennel seeds (1%)
2 sprigs of sage
5-6 cloves of garlic, crushed
2-3 bay leaves, crumpled
2-3 sprigs of rosemary
Note – You can substitute your own choice of herbs and spices like cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, allspice, thyme etc.
The reason I selected these ingredients is because they where either grown from my garden, foraged or bought locally, with the exception of fennel seeds and insta-cure #2. There is a lot of debate whether to cure meat with nitrates. Yes, it can be done without nitrates, but in my opinion a little nitrate (at 0.25%) is a lot better than botulism.
Pat dry the meat with paper towel and tidy up your pork loin to remove any pieces hanging off the meat and silver skin that might be on the loin.
Since I had a large pork loin, I decided to cut it in half to make it tidier and easier to cure but also to experiment with two different types of cures, one with fennel and kumquat and the other with chili flakes.
Gather all your ingredients together, toast your peppercorns and fennel seeds on a dry, medium hot frying pan for a couple of minutes (it doesn’t take very long at all). When they are ready coarsely grind them in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, this will process helps release their fragrance enhance the aromatics in your cure.
When researching for different recipes for Lonza I saw quite a few that involved using oranges. I thought I might try something slightly different and use kumquats because I have a huge tree covered in them at home.
Wash and thinly slice the kumquats.
Place the loin in a vacuum seal bag, then squeeze the juice out of several kumquats into the loin and rub all the curing salts and aromatics herbs and spices into the loin for a couple of minutes making sure that every part of the loin is covered. Arrange the kumquat slices over the loin and vacuum seal the bag. Place the bag in the fridge to cure for 10-14 days depending on the size and weight of the loin. Every second day take the bag out of the fridge and massage the cure into the loin through the sealed bag.
When the fridge time is up, lightly rinse the cured meat under cold running water quickly – making sure you don’t soak the meat. You will probably find that there will still be some of the ingredient’s left on the meat, which is fine. Pat the meat dry with paper towel and leave it on a wire rack on the kitchen bench for about 2-3 hours, away from the light. Weigh and record the weight of the meat, then wrap it in cheesecloth or muslin and hang in a cool ventilated place (or in a curing chamber if you have one). Wrapping the meat protects the fat and creates the really white colouring; uncovered fat will turn rancid with exposure to light. Check the weight periodically (I normally check weekly) and record the weight loss weight until 30% of the starting weight is lost and the loin is firm to touch. The required weight loss will take about 4-6 weeks depending on the temperature and humidity as well as fat and water content of the meat.
When you have reached the desired weight loss. Slice the Lonza as thin as possible. The acidity and flavour from the kumquats really carry through and balance out the fattiness of the Lonza. Lonza can be served as is or served in a salad of bitter greens and a generous dose of virgin olive oil in order to fully bring out its rich flavour.