This recipe has its origins in the Italian method for making coppa, but has been handed on in a verbal fashion from an Italian prisoner-of-war who took up residence in France to my previous sous-chef, Paul Hughes, then to me and now to these pages. Inevitably there is an element of Chinese whispers, with the recipe changing accordingly, so what we have here may not relate at all to how Italians make coppa, but it makes a fine cured ham.
Mix all the ingredients for stage one together in a container made of glass, plastic or china, and immerse your pork collar in the mixture. It is vital the collar is covered. Place in the fridge for 12 days.
Now remove the collar from its winey bath and dry thoroughly with a clean tea towel. Wash out your container thoroughly and dry it. Now lay some wooden strips along the bottom of the container which will lift your pork off the bottom (chopsticks are very good for this).
Rub the salt mixture for stage two into the pork, then lay it in the container on your waiting slats. Pack the rest around and on top of the collar and return it to the fridge for 2 weeks. If the salt and sugar become wet and run off the pork, make up another mix and reapply.
Stage three requires good strong arms, strong kitchen string and muslin or stockinet cloth. A fortnight has passed and it is time to remove the collar from the container, rinse with cold water, and dry thoroughly. Now forcefully roll your collar and tie tightly; this is vital for the prevention of internal mold. Wrap in the cloth and hang somewhere cool, airy and dry for 2 months, by which point it should be ready to slice.
I am afraid this recipe is not failsafe; nature being nature, mold and rot can strike, but please do not let this deter you as when it works it is delicious and well worth the effort and patience.