I’ve retrieved the other bacon photos out of the camera and as promised, here is a post telling exactly what T did to make the most wonderful bacon and the most fabulous lardons with the trimmings from squaring off the meat for easier slicing.
Mmmmm… bacon! Who knew that it would be so simple to make bacon at home?
In a recent SAVEUR magazine (issue #113) article entitled “Urban Harvest”, Eugenia Bone outlined just how incredibly easy it is to make bacon at home.
After curing it for seven days, Ms. Bone suggests cooking the bacon in the oven. But we love smoked bacon, so T decided to cook our bacon in the barbecue – with smoking wood chips. For the first batch of bacon, we left the cap on (as per the SAVEUR instructions) while it was smoking. It was absolutely delicious but all the smoky flavour went into the cap instead of the bacon itself.
In fact, it was so delicious, even without the smoke, that we kept trimming more and more pieces off to make sure it was nicely squared off. Here’s how the conversation went:
T: I can’t believe that the SAVEUR article says to trim the meat before cooking it! Mmm, taste this, it’s fabulous!
E: That IS good! Hmm… you’d better trim that piece that sticking out a mm.
T: You’re right. It will be much easier to slice then.
E: That’s not quite straight.
T: You’re right again. There. That’s better.
E: There’s not much left, is there?
T: No. In fact, there’s not much point in putting this away.
E: Now YOU’RE right. We’d better eat it now. We wouldn’t want such a small piece to get lost in the fridge.
Home Made Bacon
based on the recipe for Home-Cured Bacon in SAVEUR magazine #113
- 2½ lb (~1kg) skin-on pork belly
- 2½ Tbsp kosher salt
- 1½ Tbsp brown sugar (demerara)
- 1 Tbsp peppercorns
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 1 tsp dried rosemary leaves
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- Rinse the pork belly and pat it dry. Put it into a large plastic bag.
- Put the spices into a
coffeespice grinder to coarsely grind them (just one or two buzzes of the grinder) Don’t worry if some of the spices remain whole. Sprinkle half the herbs and spices over top and rub in. Turn the meat over and add the rest of the herbs and spices. Close up the bag and place it in a pyrex bowl. Refrigerate.
- Once a day, for seven days, turn the bag over and redistribute the spices. There may be some brine that accumulates. This is expected as the salt draws liquid away from the pork.
- The meat should be firm to the touch at the end of seven days. Remove from the bag and rinse off under cold running water. Pat dry and place on a shallow sided tray.
- Soak wood chips (we used hickory chips) and place in a container on the barbecue – over the heat. As soon as the chips are smoking, turn the barbecue down to minimum (you will have to play with your barbecue to find out what is best for you). Put the meat on the side of the barbecue that is OFF. (ie: the meat is cooking over indirect heat)
- Smoke for about an hour until the cap (skin) seems loose. Cut the cap away and continue to smoke for another hour to hour and a half – until the internal temperature is 150F. Use an instant read meat thermometer. We let the bacon smoke til the internal temperature was closer to 160F – just to be sure.
- Allow the bacon to cool completely. Square off the pieces – use the non-uniform pieces as lardons. Wrap the bacon in wax paper and refrigerate til well chilled. Slice thinly and fry as needed.The spices are just suggestions. The only essential spice is the salt. Use whatever strikes your fancy. Ms. Bone used garlic and thyme in her bacon.
If you do not have a barbecue, you can also cook the bacon in a slow oven: 200F. It won’t be smokey, but it will undoubtedly be equally delicious.