A. Boczek is that delightful Polish variation on cured/smoked belly pork theme. It’s very good sliced and lain on top of a slice of rye bread thickly smeared with mustard, as my old mushroom mentor, Adam the Pole, used to eat it. He would also slip it into bigos (a divine compost of cabbage and various meats built up over several days) and chopped up into golabki (stuffed cabbage). It proved more difficult than I had thought to track down a recipe. Most people buy it from Polish delis that dot the landscape. Then I had an inspiration. I called Johnny Pusztai, the legendary butcher, sausage maker and meat curer of J T Beedham and Sons, 556 Mansfield Road, Nottingham NG5 2FS http://www.jtbeedham.co.uk). There is nothing that man doesn’t know about curing meat. He may be Hungarian, and is more used to making Szalonna – the Hungarian version of Boczekm but he know instantly what I needed, and so here is his recipe
3 – 5 kg Lean Pork Belly
For Brine –
2 Litres Water
100g Demerara Sugar
100g Crushed Caraway Seeds
6 Cloves Garlic
1 tsp Black Pepper Corns
2 Bay Leaves
Bring brine ingredients to boil and simmer for 45 minutes. Allow to cool.
Immerse belly in brine and refrigerate for 48 hours.
Remove meat from brine and rinse thoroughly under cold running water.
Smoke for 2 – 4 hours
Place in a large pan of cold water, bring to boil and simmer until the core temperature of the meat reaches 65 °C.
Remove from heat and carefully take meat out of water.
Lay pork flat on a baking tray and place in pre-heated oven 200°C for 15 minutes until exterior of meat dries.
Remove from oven, cover with tea towel and allow to cool.
Slice and enjoy!