Essentially there are two ways to cure meat. Brining (or pickling), and dry curing. Dry curing requires a bit of mucking around, and calculating how much cure you need (for example, to dry cure bacon, you need to calculate a ratio of cure of 625 ppm, for the total cure required, for the weight of the meat). Brining, on the other hand, is worked out on the amount of liquid you are using. The beauty of curing meat, is that, although you still need to heat the product to a "safe" temperature...you have a lot more time to do it in, and the internal temperature can be MUCH lower. When dealing with fresh meat, and slow cooking, ALWAYS remember the 4 hour rule...If the meat hasn't reached an internal temperature, of at least 65 Degrees C in 4 hours...then micro-organisms have had the opportunity to breed, and you can poison yourself...Curing solves this
Mix all base ingredients together, in a food quality plastic container (you can get ingredient buckets fairly easily from bakers, restaurants etc) . Ensure that the meat you want to cure is completely submerged. Ziplock bags filled with water can help with this. Pop it in the fridge. a good rule is leave it in the cure, for a day for each centimetre of thickness...BUT, if the meat is more than 5 cm thick, you will want to use a brine injector, so it cures from inside out as wel, as outside inl. After the meat is cured, leave it in the fridge overnight (to dry, and if you intend to smoke it, to form a pellicle...a sticky surface that the smoke clings/absorbs into). Then bake, barbecue, smoke, fry...whtever.
Of course this is a basic cure...you can add whatever flavours tickle your fancy. Ham, for example, i use a tablespoon of pickling spice, and a tablespoon of cloves, in this basic brine. Very rarely I cure anything without onion and garlic in You can also reduce the amount of salt (down to 1/3 cup if you are on a low sodium diet)
This cure is good for pork, chicken, turkey, (err...make that most poultry, but larger birds you will need to inject at the joints), lamb, beef...actually, come to think of it, just about anything EXCEPT air dry sausages.