One of my family’s favourite deli meats is this German smoked and cured pork loin known as Lachsshinken. The name, funnily enough, translates basically to “salmon ham”, although it has no salmon in it. It refers to the usual cut of meat used to make it, however, for my purposes I used a basic boneless loin with all the fat and silver skin cleaned off.
I’ve been getting really into learning how to reproduce some of my favourite foods from scratch. There are two major reasons for this: the need to save money, and the need to control what goes into my food because of my Crohn’s.
One particular area I’ve had little opportunity to really explore is sausage and deli making, as well as cheese making. It’s this area that living at home has given me the chance to learn, especially with the gift of that wonderful smoker. With that in mind, I decided to tackle this family favourite as one of my first attempts.
I looked up several recipes online, and to my chagrin I could only really find complete recipes in German. Google translate provided a measure of the translation, and a good friend helped me out with verifying a few details. I used the combination of this recipe, with some details I scrapped from other sites as my guide.
I started with two pieces of pork loin. I used a digital kitchen scale to weigh them.
Loin A: 544 g
Loin B: 922 g
From what I’ve read, the total weight has to reduce by 35% before it is considered safe to eat.
The recipe from the website calls for 35 g of something called saltpeter which is a salt and nitrate/nitrite. I used Prague Powder 2, however, it would not be good to use 35g of Prague Powder 2. The man at the butcher shop that sold it to me advised 1 tsp per 10 lbs of meat, so I calculated the right amount for my loins.
The first step is creating a pickling mix. The dimensions provided are those for 1kg of meat.
My final pickling mix was as follows:
35g regular Kosher/Pickling Salt
¼ tsp Prague Powder 2
1 small bay lead
3 Juniper berries
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp thyme
½ tsp coriander seed
½ tsp marjoram
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp mustard seed
I placed all the ingredients in a mortal and pestle and ground them nice and fine.
I then spread them out on a cutting board and rolled the meat in them until it was completely covered.
I placed the loin, as well as any remaining spices into a vacuum sealed bag.
The recipe goes on to advise to cure for 10 days for every kg.
I misunderstood this and so I left the .5 kg loin cure for only 6 days. Apparently this is also part of an EQ time where you are supposed to leave it for a minimum of 10 days, and longer when larger. Still it worked out pretty delicious anyway.
You cure the meat by putting it in a fridge in that vacuum bag. If a lot of juice starts to accumulate, you can pour it out and reseal the bag during this process. You flip the meat once a day, or at least every other day.
Once you’ve reached the requisite number of days, you remove the loin from the bag and rinse it thoroughly, washing it in just the water.
Then you soak the loin for about 4-6 hours in some cool water. This draws out a bit of the salt but more importantly it helps make sure that it is distributed evenly throughout the meat so that you don’t end up with some patched drying out faster than others.
After soaking, dry the loin of thouroughly.
Then roll the loin in a second spice mix.
I deviated a bit more from the linked recipe here when as my second spice mix I used:
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp thyme1 tsp marjoram
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp paprika
1 Juniper berry
¼ tsp cumin
And a pinch of Prague powder 2 just to be safe during the hanging process.
At this point, you put the loin inside of a nylon stocking and hang it to dry for 2 days.
Once it’s dried, remove the loin from the hose and cold smoke.
Since I did not have access to beech at this time, I mixed some applewood with a bit of maple, sprinkled with some cognac.
That was the smoke for about 8-10 hours at which point I let the loin rest overnight in the fridge.
I repeated this process 2 more times, this time with just applewood and cognac.
A note here. I was working with two different loins, a larger and smaller, though I smoked them roughly the same amount of time (at different times). In the future, I would add 2 more smokes at least for the larger loin. While both were good, the larger one lacked the punch of the smaller loin.
Now comes the part that requires patience.
You wrap the loin in a new stocking and hang in a cool dry place. For this purpose I used a wine cooler that had the perfect temperature of 55° Farenheit and had a relative humidity of 65% which was perfect. I did have to add a few silica packets into the fridge at the later stages though to keep the humidity down.
Occasionally I would take it down and check the weight. I also flipped the loin when I did so, so that it would dry evenly though I have no idea if that was necessary.
The result was delicious and while similar to what I could buy in the store, it differed in ways I was pretty excited about – a richer, smokier, flavour for example.
It was hard to slice it as thin as possible, though I did ok. Having a professional deli slicer would have been nice.