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Lets talk Bacon

Brunch

Hello Saturday! What a glorious day you are looking to be. Even in my barely slept state of mind (all play, no work), I singularly appreciate the beauty of a sharp ray of sun piercing my eyes and trying to nudge me along to make the most of the day. I will. But I need a bit of sustenance to start. Tea.

Sip. Drain. Settle. Ok. Now we can start.

Since, it is such a beautiful day, I am going to talk about something that most people on this side of the world adore, nay, possibly lust after... Bacon. Streaky bacon. And, because I don't want you or me wasting too much of this gorgeous day looking at a screen, I'll keep my chatter short and sweet - Make bacon at home.

Can I leave it there? Will you be convinced? No? Man!

Pork Belly to smoke

Ok. Here is the thing. Curing is silly easy. I am not one of those Nazi make everything at home locavores (no, but I am) and so, believe me when I say, it is so much worth the very little effort you'll put into it. Awhile ago, I had

cured fish

and I was stupefied by how easy that was but I figured fish doesn't take long to cook anyway. But, meat. My mental images of curing meat ran to those specimens of hefty thighs of pigs, I had once spied, hanging for months in a dry, temperature controlled cellar somewhere in Italy. That is not a process easily attempted at home, although I do hear, now and again, of those passionate enough to do just that. Not me. (reinforces the non-Nazi bit. #justsaying)

And yet, there was a book that claimed otherwise. I recently laid hands on a lovely book authored by a London deli owner and it is filled with nuggets. One such was the making of the bacon and lo and behold, it only takes 5 days! You are kidding me. And guess what, it literally takes about 15 minutes of my collective effort from start to finish. Did I not say, curing is silly easy!

Biscuit egg bacon

Off I went and got myself a lovely chunk of pork belly, pottered around my cabinet and settled on making apple cured bacon. I used apple syrup that I had made earlier in the year for the bar. It gave a subtle flavor of apple but in my opinion too mellow. I think without really smoking with wood chips, it may be harder to pack in the apple flavor more. Curing bacon is a two staged process, the wet cure and then the dry one. You can simply use air drying for the second bit or use a smoker with chips to add more smokiness and flavor.

Another learning from this process was that since the belly is really fatty, the crisped bacon strips shrank significantly, to almost have their uncooked length. So, don't be surprised if that happens. You could choose a less fatty cut but you do trade off a bit of flavor then.

So, why make it at home. Because, well it is super easy but more importantly, it tastes distinctly amazing and quite unlike the insipid strips of streaky flesh you most often in grocery stores. Of course you can always buy from a good butcher as well but, hey, go try it, even if for the fun of it!

I also have some bad news on the photos. I seem to have misplaced the "after" shots and cannot find them. So, you'll have to take my word for it having been awesome!

Well, then, without much ado. Here is a recipe. Make it quick and get out to play!


Apple Cured Bacon

{adapted from this book. I can see so many variations to this like adding herbs, different sweeteners, flavored salts etc. Endless!}

1 lb of boneless pork belly

2-1/2 T sea salt (I used Maldon)

1 T smoked sea salt (also Maldon)

1 T honey

2 T apple syrup

Pat the pork belly dry. You can remove the rind if you like. I did not. It crusts up even more after curing but I recommend leaving it as it keeps the fat and flesh beneath suppler.

Mix together all the curing ingredients in a non-metallic bowl and rub the mixture on all sides of the pork.

Place the meat in a ziplock bag and press to release as much air as you can and seal. Place a bag on a plate to prop up one end, so any juices released will collect on one side. Place in the refrigerator and leave there for 3 days, each day pouring off any liquid that has pooled and resealing.

After 3 days, rinse off the marinade and pat it dry. To make sure the bacon is not too salty, cut and fry a small piece of it. If it is soak the meat in warm water for an hour or so and then pat dry.

Now, for the second cure. I did the air cure method. So this recipe follows that.

Place a wire rack inside a deep baking dish (non-metal or silicone). Place the pork on the rack, cover with cheese cloth and leave in a cool, well-ventilated place for 2 days.

And, now it is ready. Wrap in parchment and store in refrigeration.

This short cure will keep the bacon for a month in the fridge and up to 3 months in the freezer.


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