Makin’ Bacon

This post is a bit of an experiment — can I pull content, recipes, photos, etc. of my favorite posts on Another Marvelous Meal and plonk them down here?  The answer appears to be yes.

Homemade bacon…  not something you made in a 1970s home economics class, but how hard could it be?  Answer: ridiculously easy.
Making bacon is one of those things I likely never would have tried had it not been for 2011’s Charcutepalooza Challenge and the charcuterie bible,  Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing.
I cut my big slab of locally-sourced pork belly  into three pieces (one 2 pound piece and two 3 pound pieces) so I would be able to fit each into a regular 1-gallon zip-lock and ultimately, into my Char-Broil Vertical Gas Smoker.  I stashed the 2 pound chunk in the freezer for a future project (Bahn Mi!).
I mixed up a cure for the bacon using my pink salt and Ruhlman’s basic cure:

Ruhlman’s Basic Cure

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound kosher salt
  • 8 ounces sugar
  • 2 ounces pink salt
Directions:
Whisk together the salts and the sugar.
For one of the 3-pound pieces of pork belly, I made a sweeter cure by adding 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar to 1/4 cup of the salt mixture. Then, I dredged the pork belly in the cure and bagged it in the zip-lock, squeezing out the extra air.
For the other 3-pound slab, I made a savory cure by adding 3 crushed bay leaves, 5 smashed cloves of garlic, and a tablespoons of crushed black peppercorns to 1/4 cup of the salt mixture. After dredging the pork belly in the cure, I bagged it in a separate zip-lock and squeezed out the extra air.
The two bags then spent a week in the fridge. I flipped the bags daily to redistribute the cure.  After 7 days, I rested.  Not really — I took  the chunks of pork belly out and rinsed off the cure. Then I fired up the smoker, using whatever I had on hand — 3-4 pounds of mesquite-flavored charcoal along with some hickory chunks and chips and smoked the bacon on a very low heat — around 125 degrees — for about 7 hours.
Sweet bacon:
Savory bacon:

This isn’t necessarily the kind of bacon you want to slice thin and fry up for Sunday morning breakfast — although that will work.  This is special bacon.

Cut it into thick lardons and serve it withsalad with lardons and soft eggsartisinal greens and soft  eggs.

Or make a lovely hash with sweet potatoes and apple.

Next up: Irish bacon.

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