Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Survival Preparedness Basics: Cured Pork

Products such as tactical bacon can give you reason to live, if holed up in a bunker or miles from civilization. Bulk food purchasing has always been a hot topic when it comes to long haul survival preppers.

However, who wants to eat rice and beans for the rest of your miserable life. You can now buy palettes of dried foods through Costco to stock of for a post-apocalyptic scenario, but wouldn't you rather live like a king, even if running water is lacking? 

In all seriousness, good food preparedness can provide you with a skill set that can prove invaluable. Even if you are not stuck in a dire situation and you still have access to fresh meat from your grocer's freezer, learning the art of Charcuterie can be a tasty hobby to impress and feed your friends with some of nature's finest. While tactical bacon is a great concept and should be part of your back up plan as it can last 10 years in your pantry, other delicacies can prove beneficial for the short and long term. 

Cured pork has satiated many civilizations throughout history. Bacon and its many European cousins take a  chunk of meat that would be far to fatty for direct consumption and turn it into a smoky, salty piece of heaven. Another great example of cured porky perfection is the Spanish Ham commonly seen as Jamon Serrano, Jamon Iberico, or the king of all hams, Jamon Iberico de Bellota.

The latter is a essentially a black hoofed pig native to the Iberian Peninsula (Spain/Portugal) that is fed on acorns during their later stages of life. The ham is made from the hind quarters of the pig, which is salt cured and hung to dry. The curing process evaporates the moisture from the piggy leg and rump leaving a concentrated flavor filled, and bacteria free meat due to the salting aspect

Slicing the ham is an art in itself, but the modern meat slicer works wonders to create perfect wafer thin, and translucent fat-laced slices that melt on your tongue. The best part is that for the Iberico de Bellota the curing process turns the fat in the acorn fed meat into a mono-saturated fat, which is healthy and reduces cholesterol.

Now this is the finest of all hams and blows the Italian Prosciutto out of the water. It is also $130+ per pound, so not for the budget friendly. However, you can get the standard Jamon Serrano for less and it is quite tasty. A variety of Spanish hams are available for purchase online in the US at La Tienda, which is now offering free shipping till the end of the month.

If you have the time and really want to save some cash, pick up the book, "Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing", where you can learn the true are of melding meat into preserved happiness. This text will teach you how to make sausage, ham, and a variety of smoked meats that don't need refrigeration. After all, most of these recipes were developed prior to the use of freon. Throw this skill on your survival preparedness to do list and you may one day find yourself as the "Sausage King" of the bunker.

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