Pickle Meat or Pickled Pork Recipe

I know this photo looks a bit like a science experiment, or as my Dad said in his best Marty Feldman voice, Abby Normal’s Brain. All joking aside, this science experiment will give your Red Beans & Rice impeccable, authentic flavor that will be hard to match.
Before the days of refrigeration and commercial curing plants, Pickle Meat or Pickled Pork was a staple in the Creole Kitchen. Some Creole cooks still will not make Red Beans and Rice without it, and I have to say, the best pot of Red Beans that I’ve made, was made with Pickle Meat (I can’t wait to make them this Monday with this new batch of Pickle Meat.) The meat is so tender from the brine, that it just breaks down in the pot, leaving behind all of that wonderful flavor. It’s a cinch to make, now that we don’t have to prepare 25 pound batches. Long ago the pork from a very recently butchered hog would be cured in large batches, and kept in barrels. Here is what The Picayune’s Creole Cookbook of 1901 had to say on the subject, along with the process:

Pork should be pickled about twenty hours after killing. It is pickled always in sufficient quantity to last for some time, for if proper care is taken, it will keep one year after pickling; but it may also be pickled in small quantities of three or four pounds at a time, reducing other ingredients in the recipe according to quantity of pork used. To twenty-five pounds of Pork allow one ounce of saltpetre. Pulverize thoroughly and mix with a sufficient quantity of salt to thoroughly salt the pork. Cut the Pork into pieces of about two pounds, and slash each piece through the skin, and then rub thoroughly with the salt and saltpetre mixture till the meat is thoroughly penetrated through and through. Mash the cloves very fine and grind the allspice; chop the onions. Take a small barrel and place at the bottom a layer of salt, then a layer of coarsely chopped onions, and sprinkle over this a layer of the spices and minced bay leaves. Place on this a layer of Pork; pack tightly; then place above this a layer of salt and seasonings, and continue with alternate layers of Pork and seasonings until the Pork is used up. Conclude with a layer of the minced herbs and spices and have a layer of salt on top. Cover the preparation with a board on which a heavy weight must be placed to press down the meat. It will be ready for use in ten or twelve days.

Here is a more modern version, which is more of a brine than the version in the old text. I love the slight acidic flavor that it lends to a pot of Red Beans. Spare rib tips are a common cut used to make Pickle Meat.

Pickled Pork or Pickle Meat Recipe

2 lbs. Very Fresh Pork (I used Spare rib tips, boned and cut into strips 3″ long by 1″ thick)
1 Qt. White Vinegar
1/2 Cup Mustard Seed
6 Each Whole Cloves
6 Each Whole Allspice
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
3 Fresh Bay Leaves
6 Whole Garlic Cloves
1/2 of a Medium Onion, Coarsely Chopped
1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1 Tbsp Black Peppercorns
1 pinch Pink Meat Cure

Add all the ingredients except the Pork to a 2 qt Saucepan. Bring to a boil. Boil for 4 minutes, then place it into a container to cool in the refrigerator. When the mixture is completely cold, add the pork.

Very important: Make sure the pork is completely covered with the brine; gently stir to remove any air bubbles.

Cover and place in the refrigerator for 4 days before using.

35 thoughts on “Pickle Meat or Pickled Pork Recipe”

  1. Having parents and grandparents who were from Michigan and the Mid West….when I was little, I remember seeing tons of “canned” and “pickled” items.

    I had nightmares as a kid. They always remind me of a science experiment gone astray and kept for future study.

  2. Right Jill, it sure doesn’t look or sound pretty, but darn does it ever make those Red Beans taste good! I used it this last Monday and there is nothing like that flavor. The Fried Pork Chop on the side didn’t hurt either. :)

  3. THANK YOU!!!!!!! I was displaced by Hurricane Katrina and have had to relocate to Kansas. After living my entire life in the New Orleans area, this is a major culture shock. Pickle meat is no where to be found here so i have to make my own!

  4. My heart goes out for your troubles Jan, I can’t imagine your culture shock, Kansas and New Orleans are like night and day. I’m glad you found my blog useful.

  5. Thank you so much! I recently moved from NOLA to NC and can’t find pickled meat anywhere! Any good person from NOLA knows red beans are not the same without it!

  6. Dee – Glad I could help.

    Fran – It is used to maintain color and freshness, it can be found at specialty spice shops, and some butchers may sell you some. If you can’t find it, this recipe will turn out fine without it. Here is a link to one brand:

    Pink Curing Salt

    Prague Powder #1, which is used for wet cures, would work well for this recipe also.

  7. Hi,

    I made the recipe and it looks good…but…

    stupid question…can I eat pickled meat as is?

    I like pickled herring etc, but I am scared to take a piece of pork that’s “raw” (0k, not really–its pickled) and eat it.

    Have you done this? is it good?

    Thanks for a fun site–the quality of food is outstanding.

    Sincerely,

    t.

  8. I want to make this recipe but how do I make the cure. We are not able to purchase it here. Is it possible to make it myself and what ingredients do I need.

    Thanks
    Chhirrin

  9. Ok I have a weird question. Me and my brother want to pickle an entire turkey. Any tips? We cant even figure out where to let it set. A 5-gallon bucket kept in the fridge is the best we can figure. Also any ideas on spice types and quantities? Anything would be helpful.

  10. 8. to your query, I was brought up in New England and the stores sold pickled tripe, which we ate raw (with a little salt for taste) and also fried in flour and corn meal.

    Now I can’t find it in the stores, so am searching for a recipe to pickle my own.

  11. I’m from New Orleans and we’ve relocated to TX (home of ZERO pickled pork). I am very very interested in the above recipe but I’m skeptical about the amount of vinegar in it. Is this pickled pork like from the Circle Food Store that you have to boil because its salty or is this pickled like pig lips that go with a bag of Lays potato chips? Just wanna know before I go dropping this in my beans! Thanks!

  12. im trying to find out how to pickle my own tripe,I have no idea what im really looking for my grandmother loves pickled tripe and would like to make it on her own.

  13. As a New Orleans expatriot, now in Houston, I have two questions, 1[, what pray tell is,'pink meat cure', and what type of store might it be purchased? 2] Could beef tounge be treated the same as pork?

  14. i am an ex ‘pom’ living in Australia since 1959. have spent my life in a life long hunt looking for a good, and I mean GOOD sausage, these ‘ausies’realy know how to murder a sausage, I need a good receipt, also they do not know how to pickle tripe ( jellied tripe) my grand mother used to pickle tripe like you jelly eels, is ther anyone the other side of the world can help me,I need to have a taste before I go, I have been told you do not get good food in hell.

  15. Ive tried this recipe once before,PLEASE tell me I did it wrong. it came out too tasting vinegarie & I know picklemeat is not suppose to taste like vinegar especially in beans. Any suggestions???

  16. i have lived in louisiana until married and i miss my pickle pig tails and everything else could you please send me so pink meat cure so i can use the recipe you gived me

    sincerly yours,

    carolyn williams
    3591 bigelow st.
    memphis,tn 38127

  17. True pickled meat is a new orleans thing. I have been selling pickle meat in the new orleans area for 40 years. Our company has sold Circle Food Store among all the other stores in the area pickle meat. There is a different way to cure the pork than what is on here. TRUE pickled meat HAS to be boiled so it takes some salt out of it.Since Hurricane Katrina I have gotten calls from all over the states asking where can they buy my product,but as of this time i do not ship across state lines because i am a state inspected meat facility and you must be a federally inspected facility. I cant begin to explain how much pickled meat is sold in the New Orleans Area. GOOD pickled meat is claimed by some but if not done the right way it can ruin a meal.Some of the products we sell are :
    Pork Tips,Pork Tails,Pork Switches(extra long tails),Pork Shoulders,Pork Picnics,Pork Bellies,Pork Hocks and Turkey Necks.

  18. about this pork pickle recipe, do want us to
    mix raw pork slices to the brine without cooking it and storing it in
    the refrigerator for 4 days before use.
    how is it possible. this recipe is not specific.
    i am not clear about it. put some light on it plz.
    pj mech

  19. I have been looking for pickled turkey necks since the Bell (Zapardo’s) closed after Katrina. Can you tell me where I can find them.

    Thanks

  20. According to your recipie, after 4 days the pork should be ready. Does it have to be cooked, or, can you eat it right out of the pickle jar?

    Please send me an email when you respond to this.

  21. Can someone tell me if there are other uses for Pickled Pork than to use it in Red Beans and Rice? I would like to put some pickled Pork up, but wonder if there are other recipes just as good using this great meat?

    Thanks to anyone who posts.

  22. For all that have asked Morton Salt makes a product called insta-cure which is as good as prauge powder and easier to find. I have used both when curing meat and sausage for smoking.

  23. Hi,

    Thanks for the recipe. According to your recipie, after 4 days the pork should be ready. Does it have to be cooked, or, can you eat it right out of the pickle jar?

    Please send me an email when you respond to this.

    I’m eager to try this recipe and need your reply asap.

    Thanks

  24. I posted a question on 10/01/2009, regarding pickled turkey necks, got no response, can you help?

    Marion L. Scott

  25. They have pickled Turkey necks,neckbones,tips,tails, hocks and shoulder at
    King’s Specialty meats
    2745 S. Broad st.
    N.O., LA 70125
    (504)309-8749

    They cure all there meats in house. They’re known to have the best pickle meat in the city.

  26. I am a big foodie with taste buds more for non-veg and in that too for pork. Your site has got good recipies. However, would like to know any dry recipie of pork with no curry.

  27. I can’t remember the ladies name, but she was a cook at a gumbo house across from Centenary College in Shreveport and also had her own cook shack at Haughton, La. She substituted dill pickle juice for pickle meat in her red beans. Start with a tablespoon full and add until it tastes right. You can overdo this and ruin the whole pot so be very carefull adding.

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