- Make the salt pork: Wash and dry the pork and cut it into pieces that will fit into your casserole dish. Working over the dish, rub pork liberally on all sides with salt. You want to really press the salt into the pork. Place pieces in casserole dish and cover with remaining salt; add the bay leaf. Wrap the casserole dish with plastic wrap, then refrigerate for 2 days.
- Unwrap pork and pour off any liquid. Use salt on the bottom of the dish to give pork another good rub. Rewrap and refrigerate for 2 days more.
- The salt pork should now be ready. You can use it immediately, or cut it into 8-ounce chunks, wrap them in plastic wrap or butcher paper, and put them in a zip-top freezer bag and freeze for up to 1 year.
- Make the soup: Warm a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat for 2 minutes, then add oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add salt pork and cook, stirring as needed to brown on all sides, about 12 minutes.
- Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 20 minutes. Add tomatoes, garlic, black pepper, and cayenne and stir well. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let everything smother together, stirring every 15 minutes. Cook until tomatoes are completely broken down and fall apart easily when you press on them with a spoon, about 45 minutes. (The timing may vary depending on the size of your tomatoes.)
- Add oyster liquor and raise heat to medium. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes, letting all the flavors marry; the soup will be salty from the oyster water and salt pork and sweet from the tomatoes and onions. Be careful to not boil down the soup too much.
From Ode to Chauvin.