Lonzino, Air Cured Pork Loin

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A close up of lonzino slices
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Pork is the lone meat I still buy, in no small part because I have access to heritage pork raised the old way, with a varied diet and generally darker and fattier meat than that crap you get at the supermarket. I do routinely shoot wild hogs, too, and they are excellent for this recipe, Italian lonzino.

Lonzino is a fabulous dry-cured cut of pork that ages into a lovely pink, slices well and tastes not unlike a good cured ham. The Spanish call this same thing lomo. And if you coat the meat with a certain set of spices, it becomes the Armenian favorite basturma.

You use the loin of the pig for this recipe. Trimmed of all sinew, and, depending on your preference, fat. I prefer my lonzino lean, but some people love the fat v. lean you get with each bite. Either way works.

The coolest thing about lonzino is how easy and relatively quickly you can make it. Unlike prosciutto, which takes more than a year, lonzino can be ready in a month.

The only special equipment you need is curing salt and a cool place to hang your loins. You can get curing salt, Instacure No. 2 online, and your hanging place can be anywhere that isn’t bone dry (70 to 80 percent humidity is good) and is anywhere from 40°F to 60°F.

And like I mentioned at the beginning of this, you also need good pork. Lonzino highlights the innate qualities in your pork, so if it is factory-farmed you will very definitely notice – especially if it is put up next to a piece of quality pork. So do youself a favor and buy the good stuff.

Note that the time in the recipe does not include cure time.

A word on salt. You need to weigh your meat in grams and then weigh out 2.5 percent of that weight in sea salt or kosher salt, plus 0.25 percent, that’s one-quarter of one percent, in curing salt No. 2, which contains sodium nitrate. Weigh out an equal amount of sugar to the salt and add that to the mix.

A close up of lonzino slices
4.79 from 38 votes

Lonzino, Air Cured Pork Loin

All lonza or lonzino is is air-cured pork loin, a lean cut that cures easily if you follow these directions. It is best served as is, although it makes a great sandwich. You could also dice it as a substitute for any of the Spanish ham recipes that call for diced Serrano ham (and there are a lot of them). It is silky, only a little salty, and you get a hint of the spices that help cure the meat with every bite. This is a subtle meat.
Course: Cured Meat
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 1 lonzino
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 length of pork loin, about 3 pounds
  • kosher salt (see above)
  • sugar (see above)
  • InstaCure No. 2 (see above)
  • 10 grams black pepper
  • 5 grams garlic powder
  • 5 grams ground cloves
  • 10 grams onion powder
  • 8 grams dried thyme

Instructions 

  • Mix all the dry ingredients. Rub them well into the loin, then put the meat into a plastic bag or wrap with plastic wrap. This is to keep it from drying out. Keep the meat refrigerated for a week to 12 days.
  • When the meat has firmed up, remove from the wrap, rinse it off and then let it dry on a rack for 2 to 3 hours. I use a portable fan set on low to oscillate over the meat.
  • Truss the meat with kitchen twine (the white stuff) as you would a roast. Leave a long loop at one end so you can hang the meat. You can also use pre-made sausage netting.
  • Hang the meat in a cool place to dry. It needs to be humid, about 70 percent humidity. How long? At least another 12 days. It should feel firm throughout and be a pleasing red. How long can you hang it? Up to six months or more, but it will become harder and drier the longer it hangs. If you've found you have dried it too much, let it go all the way to hard-as-a-rock stage. Then use a microplane grater to grate the dried meat over pasta or rice.
  • To store: Wrap tightly in butcher paper or, better yet, vacuum seal pieces of it – I cut the loin into three chunks – and freeze. Unfrozen, it will last indefinitely in the fridge, but it will continue to dry out.

Notes

NOTE: White mold is your friend. Green mold is no fun, and black mold is dangerous. At the first sight of green or black mold, wipe down the meat with a cloth wetted with vinegar.

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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181 Comments

  1. Hey, question, i made this, cured and hung in a wine fridge (not ideal) until it lost half almost half its weight, about a month. Then i cryovacced it and left it in my fridge for two months. I opened the bag and it seems to be quite soft, the inside is pink and the outside is kinda grey and greasy. Should/can i hang it and dry again? Is it fine to eat?

    1. Milton: That does not sound good at all. It should have been quite firm when you put it in the cryovac — the only reason to do that is to even out any potential case hardening. You might have lost this batch. I am sorry.

  2. This is my fourth batch and it is delicious! As noted above, the recipe is confusing as to how much sugar to include… equal to kosher or curing salt? I assumed it was curing salt. Anyway…. its still delish! I just hung 20lbs last night… getting ready for Thanksgiving

  3. Thank you so much for the directions. Question: I’m trying to adjust for a Greek island version of lonzino (???????), which calls for marinating in wine for at least 2-3 days, then cold-smoked for several days and then dried. It seems to me that after the initial 12-day curing, I should be able to marinate for several days, proceed with drying, and then cold-smoke for 2-3 hours a day for several days? Does this procedure make any sense? Should I cold-smoke before drying? I’d appreciate any suggestions. I’m new at this and admittedly ignorant.

      1. Thanks Hank!

        Should I also just combine the cure with the wine? I assume wine and InstaCure No. 2 won’t nullify each other (the original marinate is a combination of wine, salt and coriander).

  4. Hi. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I have a question about the instacure salt. You call for #2 but could you use #1 if you hang for less than 30 days? Thank you!

    1. Lynn: Probably yes. Nitrite burns through quickly, so 30 days would be the outer edge I would think. I do hang smoked things that have no. 1 cure in them for a couple weeks, but I have never done so for 1 month.

  5. So far so good I rested the pork for 12 days and its hanging. I substituted the cloves with star of anise for more of an italian fennel like taste. I spose ground fennel seeds could be used as well which i may try in the future. Its hanging now so Ill update. Im really looking forward to tasting this it looks like a great recipe. Simple and useful. I assume similar sized pieced of shoulder or the rump could be used

  6. In the middle of hanging my first one now. I do have a bit of white mold. Do I wipe that off? You mention what to do with green and black, but not white. Thanks in advance!

  7. I used salt, paprika, pepper and hot pepper as a rub. Placed in bags and in fridge for a few weeks. Is it important to rinse off all that spice prior to hanging. Would I be able to leave the spice on and hang.

  8. Will the loin dry out and saturate the salt with water or will the bag remain somewhat dry while it is soaking in the salts and spices?

    1. What would happen if you didn’t rinse the meat and left the dry rub on during the air curing process?

      1. Thanks Hank, on my 4th batch. We added some rosemary and spices to vary the flavors and it’s very good.

        Do you think I can apply the same recipe for an elk or deer back-strap this fall?

  9. I purchased a wine cooler and have it set a 56 degrees, it about 3 feet tall so I can hang to cure. I don’t know what the humidity level is and I was told to put a damp sponge on a tray at the bottom of the fridge. Will this work out? Thanks for your reply.

    1. John: I tend to put salty water in a non-reactive pan in the chamber. Like a glass casserole dish.

  10. I’m going to try this.. is it recommended to get a humidifier? I have a closet that normally stays between 68 -70 degrees. i’d like to hang it there. thoughts?

  11. I’m assuming you have no issues with worms in the meat? I’ve just hit the 1st month mark in the curing and already had to scrape and vinegar rinse on small area of the pork loin that began to develop some puffy, airy mold that was light greenish white. That was 2 weeks ago and after resalting I haven’t seen it recur. Everyone says throw ot away, but I think it should be fine. What would you say?

  12. This came out great I used 1/2 cup Morton’s Tender Quick home meat cure salt with 3lb. Loin & this recipe is the bomb!!!!

  13. We made this the last couple months without the curing salts and was incredible. The inspiration to just go for it was incredible after an initial dable into duck prosciutto. We will be experimenting more in the future.

  14. The recipe calls for pork loin. I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t tenderloin. Also, have you tried this with venison or beef? If so, what was your take on it?

    1. Brandon: Yes, loin, not tenderloin, although you could do it with tenderloin. And yes, I’ve done it with venison. It’s OK. Not as good as pork.

  15. I did try recipe – I found the cloves were a bit overpowering to our taste – I will try again with the cloves cut in half possibly to see – otherwise colour and texture were excellent – i recommend the recipe and direction.