As we all know, salt pork is widely used in cooking due to its flavor compatibility with a wide range of meals. Whether it is used to spice up meats, soups, or vegetables, salt pork undeniably gives your dish a distinctive, savory kick.
However, not everyone can get their hands on a piece of salt pork. Hence, it is beneficial to know which ingredients can substitute for salt pork when it is not available.
- Salted Butter
- Flavored Olive Oil
- Beef Jerky
- Smoked Ham Hock(Pork Knuckle)
Before we delve into the full list of possible alternatives, let’s understand why is this dish so popular among old folks like your grandpa.
12 Best Substitute For Salt Pork
Salt pork, like hardtack, was a staple ration for many troops and ships from the 17th to 19th centuries and was used in battles such as the American Civil War, War of 1812, and Napoleonic Wars. Notably, it has long been a popular traditional meal in Western countries, particularly in Spain.
It is a type of pork dish that is preserved or cured using an incredible amount of salt. It is also popularly used as a seasoning in recipes like baked beans and seafood chowder.
Commonly made using pork belly or, on rare occasions, fatback, salt pork consists of a medium to high-fat content, as it is made from the lower region of the belly. It is similar to uncut side bacon in appearance, but it does not undergo the smoking process.
Some of the best substitutes for salt pork include bacon and pancetta.
Every so often, people confuse salt pork for bacon. Truly, both specialties are made from pork and have undergone the same process of curing, which is why it is one of the perfect substitutes to use.
Like salt pork, bacon uses pork belly, which is the essential ingredient in achieving the savory flavor you’ve been looking for. However, if you are trying to achieve a saltier taste, you should add more salt to your bacon.
Bacon can also be used practically in any recipe. You can use it to flavor your veggies, salads, sauces, or soups. At times, you can also add it to baked goods and bread.
Bacon is an easy-to-find ingredient that can be found in most supermarkets and retailers, and it’s also simple to prepare. So let’s go out and get a slice of bacon to make up for the lack of Salt Pork in your kitchen.
Pancetta is a type of pork that is popularly used in Carbonara and other Italian dishes. Like salt pork and bacon, Pancetta is also produced from the pork belly and cured to perfection. It does, however, have less fat and is not smoked.
Pancetta has a chewy consistency and a mildly sweet and nutty flavor. It comes flat, but is typically available in rolls. When using it as a substitute, use the same amount as you would need for salt pork.
Pancetta’s strong pork flavor makes it a great salt pork alternative in dishes that call for meat. It is best served thin and crispy, and you can only achieve that if you cook it on a low fire. However, you can also eat it raw in salads and pasta.
There are many different types of butter to pick from, but if you want to substitute the flavor of salt pork in your recipe, salted butter is the way to go.
Salted butter is another form of butter that can be used as a salt pork replacement. As its name implies, salted butter is butter that contains salt. And even if you think a single ingredient (salt) won’t make a difference, you’d be surprised how well it blends all the flavors together.
Regular butter can certainly make your dish buttery, but salted butter will elevate the experience, and make you feel like salt pork is actually present in the recipe.
Plus, salted butter also has a long lifespan just like salt pork, which means that you can use it many times, as long as it still tastes good.
Flavored Olive Oil
Now, if you don’t want to use meats or veggies in adding flavor to your dish, you can always go for flavored olive oil. Just like butter, flavored olive oil can help you achieve the same savory flavor that salt pork has.
If you prefer a healthier vegan or vegetarian alternative, you may still make a tasty dish without using salt pork. Thus, substituting seasoned olive oil for ordinary olive oil may do.
Flavored olive oil comes in a variety of flavors, including garlic, truffle, chili, basil, sun-dried tomato, lemon zest, and rosemary. So, you just have to pick which one suits the flavor profile of your recipe. You can mix and match or adjust the amount of the flavored oils.
Beef jerky is another good replacement for salt pork. It is marinated with several spices and processed to enhance the flavors while also extending the shelf life. So, if you want to use it but can’t eat it all in one sitting, you won’t spoil anything.
If you don’t have any salt pork on hand, beef jerky can be used to flavor bread, baked beans, stews, chowder, and a variety of other foods.
Or if you simply do not want to eat pork but still want to eat meat, beef jerky will suffice as it holds different bursts of saltiness, smokiness, and aroma. Using beef jerky instead of pork ensures that you get the meaty texture that your favorite dish requires.
Fatback is acquired mainly from the pig’s back. But unlike salt pork, fatback does not have meat. However, if you are after the taste instead of meat, fatback can be used as a good substitute for salt pork.
Since fatback comes from pork, you can expect that although it is pure fat, it will still make your dish savory and flavorful, especially when mixed with other spices.
Fatback is not cured or salted. So, if you want a saltier flavor, just add extra salt to the recipe. Before serving, make sure to taste the dish and adjust the salt if necessary.
Smoked Ham Hock(Pork Knuckle)
A ham hock, also known as pork knuckle, is the part of the pig where the foot is joined to the hog’s leg. It is basically the upper portion of the pig’s leg which consists of meat, bones, and fat.
Typically, ham hocks are smoked and cooked for an extended period of time before you can eat them palatably. However, even though it takes a long time to cook, the end result will give you an exquisite flavor that is equivalent to salt pork.
Smoked ham hock is often used as a good base for soups, stews, sauces, and stocks.
Cured vegetables are an excellent alternative for vegans and vegetarians. By substituting cured veggies for salt pork in your favorite meat-based recipes, you may convert them into a vegan dish.
Using cured veggies instead of fresh vegetables gives the dish more flavor and aroma. Whatever type of vegetables you use, whether squash, eggplant, potatoes, onions, or many others, you can surely achieve a rich flavor like that of salt pork.
The sweetness of most vegetables pairs well with the saltiness of cured pork belly or bacon. Simply replace salted pork with an equal amount of cured veggies whenever you cook a recipe that calls for it. This will offer your dish the same salty flavor profile as before, but with the bonus of nutrients coming from the vegetables.
If you don’t like to consume pork but want to satisfy your taste buds with the taste of salt pork, smoked salmon is a terrific substitute that you can prepare in your sandwiches, pasta, and stews.
Smoked salmon is a popular European dish that is very simple to incorporate into ordinary meals. It has a smoky and salty flavor that resembles the taste of salt pork.
Smoked salmon is not only highly flavorful, but it is also a good source of omega 3-fatty acids that are known to have high levels of nutrients. In addition, smoked salmon is also ready-to-eat since it is smoked and cooked for long hours.
There are various types of ham in the world, but the most common type is made out of pork. And since ham is also cured and smoked in the same way as salt pork, it can be an effective substitute that you can use in some of your recipes.
When salt pork or the other alternatives are not available, a regular country ham can provide you with the same umami that you would expect from salt pork.
However, because country ham isn’t normally salted, you’ll have to modify the salt levels in the recipe to match salt pork’s flavor profile.
Not all dishes that call for salt pork can use country ham. Since it is not as tender as salt pork, ham can only work best with certain foods such as bread and sandwiches.
Nevertheless, country ham is a good substitute to salt pork because it is not hard to find. It is widely available in most grocery stores and supermarkets.
Prosciutto is an Italian ham that is thinly sliced and served together with fruits, bread, crackers, wine, and even pasta and pizza. It is a delicious type of ham that is sweet and salty, but minus the smoky flavor.
Just like salt pork, prosciutto is also sourced from the pig’s meat. But instead of pork belly, prosciutto is made from pork legs. Each slice is striped with fat and has a salmon pink to brownish-red color.
Prosciutto will undeniably provide your dish with yummy pork flavors. It will not, however, add the same grease that salt pork and bacon have.
Guanciale is a type of cured pork from Italy that is mainly prepared using pig’s cheeks. It has a flavor that is comparable to salt pork and bacon, but it is more versatile in recipes because it can be used either as meat or fat in a variety of meals.
Besides being used in pasta dishes, Guanciale can also be eaten on its own. Slice it thinly and serve with crusty bread and red wine to complement the spiciness of the cured pork.