Unfazed by a pheasant, by gizzards or liver, I have to admit to being slightly nervous about cooking cuts of meat, particularly when it comes to reared livestock: Pig, Sheep, Cow. But De-Lish, the North-Norfolk Coast charcutier was sporting some pics of shopmade Petit Salé, and, when I saw it in life, I couldn’t resist. I admitted my ignorance and the charcutier advised: Wash, rinse, wash again. Leave overnight in clean water. Bake.
Qu’est-ce qu’un Petit Salé? Whence the term originates I know not, but I imagine it would be better literally translated as a little bit salted, than, as I would be tempted: small salted thing. In English one might call it Salt Pork, or, as in a book I am currently reviewing: Simple French Cooking for English Homes (republished by Quadrille), Pickled Pork. I quite like to think of it as Part-Cured Pig, as, I assume, were it fully cured it wouldn’t need to be cooked.
Here’s Alexandre Dumas’ recipe for Petit Salé, in one lengthy but eloquent sentence from Le grand dictionnaire de cuisine:
Pour faire le petit salé, vous coupez des poitrines de cochons en morceaux ; frottez-les de sel fin comme le lard, ajoutez-y un peu de salpêtre, arrangez-les au fur et à mesure les uns après les autres dans un pot, ayez soin de les bien fouler pour éviter qu’elle ne prennent le goût d’évent ; bouchez les vides que pourra laisser le sel, recouvrez le vas d’un linge blanc et fermez le plus hermétiquement possible et servez-vous au bout de huit ou dix jours pour mettre sur des choux ou sur ce que vous voudrez.
Otherwise, Monsieur le Charcutier suggested looking to Jane Grigson and Lindy Wildsmith for recipes. I would imagine these are slightly more adventurous than Duras’ simplistic version above.
So, simply: Wash, rinse, wash. Leave overnight in clean water. The following day however, I did get adventurous, and laid the piece of meat on a bed of Greengages and Chopped Apples, whole cloves of Garlic a knob of Butter, salt and some Red Onion before baking it at 180C for about half an hour, until cooked. Deep pink, with a ham-like consistency, lovely and flavoured, surprisingly sweet and not too salty.
Were I to do it again, I would sweat the onions and garlic first, and lay the Greengages etc on a bed of buttered onions. I ate it as it was with only a spoonful of Pickled Gooseberries, to cut through any fat and aggrandize the medieval theme.
Next I’ll have to attempt that Petit Salé m’self…