Salt Pork with Pan Gravy
Another quite fatty staple for homesteaders is the infamous Salt Pork. Less meaty than modern bacon, it was preserved in a very salty brine rather than smoked. Most pioneer households had a barrel full of chunks of salt pork to help see them through the winter.
To make salt pork edible, parboiling was necessary before cooking to leech out as much salt as possible.
Slice salt pork thinly and lay in a single layer in your skillet. You may need two skillets or to cook the pork in shifts.
Cover the pork slices with COLD water, about halfway up the side of the skillet.
Over medium heat, bring the water up to a gentle boil and cook for one more minute.
Drain pork slices well, dredge lightly in the flour seasoned well with pepper (no salt at this point!!).
Return to pan (making sure all water is gone) and fry over medium heat, turning once, until brown and crisp. If you use a well seasoned pan, you should not need to add oil or grease. The salt pork will render enough of its own. If you don't have a well seasoned pan, or you know yours sticks a bit, add a very thin coating of oil to get started.
As the slices are done, remove to an oven proof dish and keep warm in a low oven while you finish frying the rest of the salt pork.
When all the pork is crisp and brown and keeping warm, pour off all but two tablespoons of the rendered fat. (you can save this for future use in the fridge, or discard carefully).
To the remaining fat, sprinkle the flour left over from dredging evenly into the pan and stir constantly to avoid lumps. You should have enough liquid to incorporate the flour and not become a paste, but not so much that it's very runny. If you have a paste, add some of your poured off drippings, if it is too thin, sprinkle more flour, a teaspoon at a time until you get the right consistency.
Keep stirring over a medium low heat until the flour is browned, but not burning. Browning the flour will bring out a rich, nutty flavor.
When the flour is browned, add the milk, a cup at a time, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Simmer for a few minutes to allow to thicken and then adjust seasonings. It will probably not need salt, but it might need more pepper. If your gravy hasn't thickened enough, keep simmering until it reduces to your desired consistency. If it seems TOO thick, add milk, a little at a time, until you are happy with the result.
Serve with the salt pork and either biscuits or mashed potatoes. Yum. (Just don't tell your fitness trainer I gave you this recipe!!