I happened across a package of pork fat a few weeks ago, with just a few tiny streaks of lean, in my grocery store’s meat case. It was the only package left, and it cost about a dollar, so I snatched it up, not even knowing what I was going to do with it when I got it home. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed obvious to me: salt pork. Salt pork brings an amazing flavor and texture to Maine baked beans, as well as other dishes such as green beans or sauteed brussels sprouts. We had a large box of coarse kosher salt on hand, so I decided to give it a shot.
There are a lot of methods out there for making your own salt pork, and most of them involve brining or weighting your nice, fatty meat. I wanted to try something a little simpler, so I placed a layer of coarse kosher salt in the bottom of my 9×11 Pyrex baking dish (but you can use any container with a tight-fitting lid.) I laid the pork fat on top of the salt and poured the remaining salt over it, making sure the fat was completely covered in salt.
I sealed the container and put it on the bottom shelf in my fridge, where it wouldn’t be in the way. I checked on it a few times, to be sure the salt was drawing the liquid out of the pork fat, and after 7 or 8 days, I removed it from the salt, rinsed and patted it dry, cut it into pieces, and put it in the freezer.
The real test for this salt pork came, of course, when I used it in a pot of baked beans.
Just as I’d hoped, the salt pork imparted a buttery fattiness and a delightful salty, meaty flavor to my beans. I would never have known that I’d bought it at a fraction of the price of storebought salt pork and salted it myself at home.