Kosher substitute for salt pork
November 20, 2011 2:22 PM   Subscribe

Kosher substitute for salt pork? We want to make an America's Test Kichen recipe for Thanksgiving turkey. It calls for salt pork to be laid along the back of the turkey during the first part of the roasting process (with the breast-side down), like so. ATK says this is called "barding" the turkey, which they say makes the bird "self-basting."

We'll be using a kosher turkey (which is already salted), and we also don't eat pork. So we need some sort of fatty substitute that is both not too salty and also kosher. (In case it helps, ATK says that the salt pork should be "roughly equal parts fat and lean meat.") Thanks!

P.S. Link to recipe. Part of page is paywalled.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Classic barding is actually threading strips of lard through the muscle. It melts as the temperature rises, basting the flesh around it.

In the absence of pork, i would use coins of duck skin or even a cured duck breast (skin on) if you want the salty cured flavor in your bird.
posted by peachfuzz at 2:35 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have no experience trying to make such a substitution.

Don't a lot of people think of (romanian) pastrami as Jewish bacon? I always did. I'd sometimes even fry it up like bacon. Anyway, it's cured and it's very fatty. I doubt that it's nearly as salty as salt pork, but as you say, your turkey may not need as much salt as ATK's. There are other seasonings in the cure that's used for pastrami, but again, this doesn't seem like much cause for concern. I doubt a little pepper is going to ruin your turkey.
posted by stuart_s at 2:36 PM on November 20, 2011

Can you use fatty poultry and some umami source in some way?

1. Take the skin and chunks of fat off a chicken, goose or duck.
2. In a pan, gently heat the fat to render it into schmaltz, then cook mirepoix (onions, celery, maybe some mushrooms or carrots, with salt, pepper and herbs) in it until golder.
3. When the mixture cools, slit the back skin and insert the fatty mirepoix between skin and flesh.
4. Lay the poultry skin on top as a shield.

When you turn over the bird, some mirepoix may fall into the juices. This will add flavour.
posted by maudlin at 2:37 PM on November 20, 2011

To add to peachfuzz's suggestion: duck bacon + extra duck fat? Drawback is that duck bacon tends to be pretty salty.
posted by atropos at 2:37 PM on November 20, 2011

The first thing I would try is to get some chicken fat (preferably skin and fat) in place of the salt pork. Can you find schmaltz? Smearing some cheesecloth heavily with schmaltz might do the job.

You say you don't eat pork but you don't say how kosher you keep. I assume butter (with or without the cheesecloth) is out of the question?

I wouldn't recommend turkey bacon - it doesn't have enough fat. Look for beef bacon that has a lot of fat (some don't).

On preview, yes, duck fat, duck bacon, or even a sliced duck breast should have enough fat.
posted by WasabiFlux at 2:38 PM on November 20, 2011

I saw chefs using "caul fat" on Iron Chef (Japan) all the time. A kosher butcher might be able to provide some. I can't remember whether they ever used it in a similar situation, but this guy on flickr tried it with turkey and declared it to be a success. He used butter, but you could used schmaltz or duck fat.

All the duck/chicken/goose skin solutions sound delicious, but I think caul fat (or pastrami) would be easier.
posted by stuart_s at 2:45 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

caul fat is most commonly pork.
posted by JPD at 3:08 PM on November 20, 2011

Whole Foods sells kosher beef bacon.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:11 PM on November 20, 2011

You basically need a solid fat here which you can spread or drape over the bird. Since it's already salty, i don't know that you want the fat to be super salty too. You might experiment with schmaltz --- two possibilities I would think are either semi freezing it to a mushy texture and spreading that over the bird, or maybe mixing it with vegetable shortening until you get a solid paste. Or maybe if you used a sheet of tinfoil --- spread with schmaltz mix and drape over the bird. You could prepare a couple thin sheets and switch 'em out ever half hour or so to get a similar self-baste.

Although as I type this out I realise that maybe just basting it would be just as easy.
posted by Diablevert at 3:22 PM on November 20, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for all the replies. Butter is indeed out of the question.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 4:13 PM on November 20, 2011

I also keep kosher. I'd try duck fat + cheesecloth in a very thick layer, and maybe cover that with some extra skin or turkey bacon - while I agree that turkey bacon itself doesn't have enough fat to be useful, it might be a good top layer to hold in the duck fat as it cooks.
posted by judith at 4:48 PM on November 20, 2011

Never tried it, but I wonder if you cut some of the fatty part of a (kosher) corned beef brisket into thin slices and lay it on the turkey, would it possibly achieve the same effect? You can freeze the rest of the brisket, and then when you cook it later the fat is already trimmed!
posted by aloiv2 at 6:28 PM on November 20, 2011

to aloiv2's point, rendered beef fat would be solid at room temperature. I'd worry it would make the turkey taste weird, though.
posted by Diablevert at 8:20 PM on November 20, 2011

2nd schmaltz soaked cheesecloth.
posted by Gilbert at 8:22 PM on November 20, 2011

Salt beef (also called Naval Beef) might work.
posted by asnider at 8:50 PM on November 20, 2011

This isn't a direct answer but I will say that I tried this for my turkey last year because Chris was soooo enthusiastic about how the bird turned out on the TV show and I will say it was a big disappointment. Usually the Cook's Country recipes are great and when followed, turn out just as advertised. This was not the case this time around. The bird was bland and took longer to cook. My regular brined birds are much better and less trouble. So I would not go out of your way to figure out a substitute.
posted by agatha_magatha at 9:20 PM on November 20, 2011

Mark Bittman uses frozen olive oil as a substitute for lard in his vegetarian tamale recipe... though I expect that lacks the coherence that salt pork seems to have (I keep kosher too, so am not an expert).

An alternative possibility (which I think comes from a stuffing recipe from the America's Test Kitchen folks): get some turkey wings and lay them on top of the turkey instead of the salt pork. They'll give off lots of fatty drippings (this works well as a stuffing enhancer in my experience). Presumably chicken wings could work too.
posted by janewman at 11:21 PM on November 20, 2011

Response by poster: In the end, we wound up just smearing schmaltz directly on the meat, between the skin and the breast. (The recipe calls for you to separate the skin from the bird, creating a big pocket.) I don't know if it was necessary, but our bird turned out super-juicy and delicious and did not taste in any way funny or off.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 8:09 PM on November 29, 2011

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