“The only thing better than bacon…. is MORE bacon” This classic quote from my Grandfather could actually be made better: “The only thing better than more bacon…. is HOMEMADE bacon!”
“I’ve never tasted bacon like this” said my husband this past weekend – i fried up a ‘rasher’ of bacon and served it with fresh eggs and english muffins…. to.die.for. The flavor of my cure was subtle, the texture of the meat was delicate and flakey: this was definitely not store bacon. Slicing it it evenly was next to impossible, but it was actually fun to have thin and thick/ crispy and meaty pieces to try. I still have 3 bellies to experiment with and i can’t wait to try some slightly different flavors, though this was as delicious as it needed to be!
Making bacon might sound like touchy feely, hippy, homesteader, foodie nonsense – but it is actually really simple. The only ‘special’ ingredient you need is Pink Salt which you can get on Amazon or from www.ButcherPacker.com (they have supplies for all your curing/sausage making needs). An essential book for anybody wanting to learn how to smoke/cure/sausage make is: Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing (Revised and Updated). They break down the basics and leave room for experimentation. I used their basic bacon cure recipe and added a few flavors of my own: maple syrup, crushed red peppers and cracked black pepper. The resultant bacon is just SLIGHTLY spicey and has a subtle richness from the maple. I really wish you could taste it!
Making bacon is a very simple process: Brine (coat in salt/sugar mixture and let sit in the fridge in a plastic bag for about a week, flipping every other day), smoke (for a few hours in a smoker, or until it reaches 150 in a proper smokehouse), bring up to temp (150) in a low oven. Cut off the skin, cool, package, enjoy
Finding fresh pork belly might be tricky depending where you’re located, but you should be able to get some from your local butcher, market or farmer’s market. I purchased half a Red Wattle hog from a neighbor and had the butcher leave all the ‘spare parts’ for me to try my hand at curing. I borrowed the same neighbor’s smoker to add the smoke flavor – but think next time i’ll just use my propane grill – place the belly on the top rack to one side and put wood chips on the other side with low heat on. A few hours in smoke does it then you finish off the warming process in a low oven until the belly reaches 150 degrees (a meat thermometer is essential).
I can’t wait to post more bacon recipes soon! And to eat more bacon! Have you ever made your own bacon or sausage?