Cured Pork Tenderloin (Mini Lonza)

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Cured pork tenderloin has the size, shape and resemblance of a salami stick and makes for a perfect quick dry curing project, which you can eat within a month of making it.

Lonza is the much smaller cousin of Lonzino. Lonzino is made from the loin of the pork which is a much bigger cut of meat and takes a lot longer to cure. Lonza is made from the tenderloin, which a very lean with little to no fat at all, which is what makes it such a quick project. Lonza is often likened to bresola, which is a similar product but made with lean cuts of beef.  Both lonza and bresaola have a mild, clean taste owing to the absence of fat. Since the tenderloin is very lean, the flavour of the meat is greatly influenced by the diet of the animal. Try and source a locally raised, heritage pork that has been allowed to forage and fed a diverse diet. Anything less will lead to an inferior product. If you’re able to spend the money, its worth it.

Ingredients:
485g pork tenderloin, excess fat/silver-skin trimmed (100%)
16g Tasman sea salt (3.3%)
9.7g brown sugar (2%)
7.3g Tasmanian pepperberries, coarsely ground (1.5%)
4.8g mixed herbs  (1.0%)
2.5g chilli flakes  (0.5%)
1.5g lemon pepper  (0.3%)
2-3 Tbs. brandy

(Note – The ingredients used are shown as a percentage of the starting weight of the meat after trimming. I’ve noted the percentage next to each, so you can adjust what you will need based on the weight of your meat. Having said that, this recipe is quite forgiving due to the fact that no nitrate/nitrite’s are used. Also you can make you own spice and aromatic blends with garlic, thyme, juniper berries fennel, oregano basically whatever takes your fancy).

As always when working with food, make sure you have a nice clean work area. You don’t want to be getting anyone sick

Pat the tenderloin dry with paper towels and tidy up by removing any silver skin and any messy little pieces. Try and aim for a consistent thickness throughout so the meat cures evenly. This particular cut of meat is really good as it’s a solid, lean piece and will maintain a nice shape.

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Weigh out the brown sugar and salt quantities and massage them into the tenderloin (I also like to add some brandy in at the stage), ensuring that all nooks and crannies are covered. Place the loin into a Ziploc bag and squeeze out as much air as possible. Seal the bag to make it as air tight as possible and place in the refrigerator overnight or up to 12 hours.

The next day day place all of the remaining dry ingredients into a bowl and mix well to combine.

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Under cold running water quickly rinse (as you do not want to soak the meat) off any remaining salt and sugar mixture from the loin and pat it dry with paper towel. I like to leave it on a clean bench for about 30 minutes to air dry and firm up a bit (making sure its out of direct sunlight, as this can turn any fat rancid). Use a cake cooling rack, or something similar, to allow the air to circulate around the meat.

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After letting it sit for 30 minutes apply a generous amount of brandy all over the meat and rub in the dry aromatic ingredient. The brandy adds flavour and helps the dry ingredients adhere to the meat; more importantly it will sanitize the surface of the meat and help protect against spoilage and contamination.

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Tie the meat as you would a roast to help hold the shape and then wrap in cheese cloth or muslin. Hang the meat in a cool, slightly drafty place until the tenderloin is firm to touch but not overly hard – the same texture as you would expect from a salami. In ideal conditions you want the moisture to be drawn out of the meat slowly. If the temperature is too high or the humidity too low, you may find that the surface of the meat will dry out too quickly. This will cause the surface to harden and the moisture in the middle of the tenderloin will be stuck. I have found it typically takes around 3 weeks to be ready, depending on temperature and humidity.

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Once its ready, slice it up and enjoy! The texture of the meat is slightly soft with a uniform rosy pink colour throughout. The aromatics from the spices should come through along with the concentrated pork – the taste is delicious!

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