Lonzino is actually a cured Pork Loin, ours was a tenderloin (which requires more time and a casing which we didn’t want to attempt). Jacques Pepin calls this a Saucisson of Pork Tenderloin. But we’ll stick with Lonzino. This was our first curing project and I hope there will be lots more. We started here because it’s fairly easy, straightforward ingredients and doesn’t take too long. Go ahead and get on Amazon and order a package of Pink Cure #2 (While you’re at it, you could order some Cure #1 for things like bacon or panchetta). It’s fairly cheap and is a must especially for the beginner. I know there’s lot to read about nitrates and people feel differently, but in our opinion, a little nitrate is better than botulism! We started with a basic recipe:
1lb Pork Tenderloin
1/2 C Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Pink Curing Salt #2
1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Maker’s Mark Bourbon
1/2 Tablespoon Black Pepper
1/2 Tablespoon herbs de Provence (or herbs of your choice; juniper, thyme, cinnamon are often mentioned. We just wanted basic)
We trimmed out the cut so the tenderloin was evenly thick. This brought it to almost exactly 1lb (it started out at 1.09 lb). Once it was trimmed, it, we combined the salts and brown sugar and coated the loin really well. Really well! Then put it in a plastic bag and into the fridge. Our instructions said to leave it 12 hours. We were nervous, ok? So we left it more like 18. That was too long. (more on that later).
Eighteen hours later, a lot of moisture had released from the pork. Now, you need to weigh this guy. Our weighed in at 440g (grams are easier to deal with, but it makes no difference). Write down this weight. This is essentially your starting weight. Your pork need to lose 30-35% of it’s weight while hanging. This will indicate that is is ready.
Remove your pork from the fridge and wash the salt off under the faucet and finally dowse with bourbon. Now, season the pork with black pepper and herbs of your choosing. Our hanging location was our garage. This isn’t ideal. The humidity is too low. A dark basement is perfect. You are looking for a temp to stay around 50°-60° and a 60-70% humidity. We just didn’t have a perfect location. To slow the drying, we wrapped the tenderloin in a double layer of cheese cloth. This prevents the outside hardening before the center is dry, which will ruin your meat.
Once wrapped, we tied it securely with cheese cloth with cotton butcher’s string. and hung it in the garage. I’m not gonna lie, our temperature fluctuated a LOT in the time it was hanging. We dipped into single digits and got up to almost 60° one day. Per instruction, we weighed the tenderloin after 10 days and we weren’t quite there. It took 14 (actually 13 would have been perfect as it lost a little more weight than it should have).
When we took it down, it weighted 294. We were shooting for 308, so it went just a bit too long, but that’s OK. It felt a little hard on the outside so we placed it in a clean, dry ziplock and put it in the fridge a few days. What this does is allow the moisture remaining to redistribute and soften the over-dry parts a little.
TIME TO SAMPLE! We warned everyone if the didn’t hear from us the next day to call 911 (Only half-joking!). We sliced our lonzino as thinly as we could and tried it. The smell was deliciously porky. No ‘off’ scent at all. Beautiful merlot color. The texture is a bit (and this shouldn’t be a turnoff) like a stale gummy bear. The overall taste was excellent but the extra time in the salt cure made it overly salty. With some bruschetta, it will be fine, but on its own, it’s a bit much.
THINGS WE LEARNED:
On a small tenderloin like this, only cure it for 12 hours. Control your temperature and humidity. This is out of our control for the time-being so we will just have to deal with it. But more constant temp and higher humidity would yield a more evenly dried lonzino. And lastly, we learned to not be scared!
We also found a percentage guide that helps your figure out how much salt is needed:
So, on a 500g (about 1.10 lbs) loin, you would use 16.5g salt, 5g pepper, 1.25g pink salt, 38.5g herbs.
Next up will be another lonzino and panchetta or bacon. Can’t wait!
Hopefully you notice some improvements in our photography skills. This project was taken 1/2 before and 1/2 after we received some training and some semi-pro lights. We’re still learning!