The first time I saw a wild boar smoking slowly under the soot-blackened eaves of a dome-shaped grill I was mesmerized. I was standing 100 yards from the banks of the Mississippi, deep in the beating heart of the Arkansas Delta. The body of the pig was cloaked in thick slabs of bacon which were coated in thick layers of molasses and the whole thing oozed and dripped onto a tray of cut green apples. The mere sight of the animal left a permanent imprint on my brain, and the taste set into motion my quest to relive that culinary experience as many more times as I could in one lifetime.
I know people who are vegetarians, except for bacon. The sheer, sinful, irreplaceable majesty of pork a delicacy too precious to pass up.
There are so many delicious parts to a pig, but I think hands down the most crowd pleasing is bacon. Bacon is easy to make at home. It is most often sold in strips, but when you make it yourself, you can enjoy its true versatility—cut it into batons known as “lardons” for classic French dishes, or into thicker cubes for soups, stews, and beans, or gently grill a whole slab at once and serve it as a main course.
Just like the cured salmon, it has a very basic ingredients list. You make a cure that you can store in a sealed container indefinitely and always have on hand to whip out at a moments notice.
The only strange thing that you may not have seen before is pink salt, called “Prague Powder” or “Instacure #1″ in certain crowds. To put it quite simply, it keeps the meat safe, and prevents any bacteria driven illnesses. You can check it out above under “my favorite things.”
I used a little brown sugar in my cure. But you don’t have to. You can use maple sugar if you want or white sugar. If you want something more savory add garlic or cracked peppercorns. Whatever suits your mood.
Sugar, salt, pink salt.
All measured on a scale, which is a wonderful (and important) tool to have in curing.
Then you get to practice your skills as a masseuse.
You’ll want a non-reactive receptacle for your bacon, so either a baking dish, or a sheet tray covered in plastic.
Sprinkle the cure on.
And give it a nice rub.
Massage it in there for a while.
Make sure you get all of the little cracks and crevices.
Once you feel like you’ve given a thorough massage, pile the cure around the meat.
Then, if you’ve used plastic, wrap it up.
It’s going to go in the refrigerator now for 5-7 days, and you’re going to turn it over every other day so that it cures evenly.
And before too long…
…you’ll have this!
Give it a good rinse.
Pat it dry.
It’s ready to eat!
If you want to smoke it, go for it. I used my handy dandy stove top smoker.
Remove the skin while the flesh is still warm from the smoker. If you don’t smoke this baby, you’ll want to take the skin off before you cure it.
She’ll look like this.
She’s very purty, don’t ya think?
If you want to slice it thinly, freeze it first then use a long slicing knife. Bacon freezes well because of its high fat content so it is easy to always have on hand.
Keep your eyes peeled tomorrow! I’m giving away a couple of treats to help you field dress, on your quest to bring home the bacon.