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“Homemade Bacon”

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.

And 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.

“Homemade Bacon”

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 1.25 – 2 Kilograms (2 ½ - 4 pounds) bacon

“Homemade Bacon”

Ingredients

    For the Bacon:
  • 1.5-2.25 kilograms (3-5 pounds) pork belly, skin on if you plan to smoke it, skin off if you don’t
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) dry cure
  • For the Dry Cure:
  • 450 grams (2 cups) Kosher salt
  • 225 grams (1 cup) sugar
  • 50 grams (10 teaspoons) pink salt #1 (this is used in many types of cured meat products to keep it safe, and can be found on Amazon or other places on the Internet)

Instructions

  1. Trim the pork belly of any dry meat and glands, and neaten the edges.
  2. Combine the salt, sugar, and pink salt for the dry cure. Place the pork belly in a non-reactive baking dish or sheet tray covered in plastic, and cover with the mixture, pressing it into all the cracks and crevices. Do this until all sides are evenly and well coated.
  3. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days, turning the pork belly over once a day to make sure it cures evenly, until the meat feels firm throughout. The thicker the belly, the longer it will take to become firm. The pork will release a lot of liquid as it cures, so it is important that the cure stay in contact with the meat the whole time.
  4. Rinse the pork belly. Dry it thoroughly.
  5. The belly is ready to use. If you want to smoke your bacon, preheat a grill or smoker to 200 degrees F and burn wood chips for at least 30 minutes, then add the bacon. If you have a stove top smoker then follow the directions that come with it. Hot smoke to an internal temperature of 150 degrees F.
  6. Remove the skin now with a sharp knife while the fat is still warm. You can save the skin for cracklin’ bread. The bacon will keep up to two weeks in the refrigerator or you can cut it into manageable sizes, wrap it in plastic, and store it in the freezer for several months.
http://georgiapellegrini.com/2010/03/09/recipes/homemade-bacon/