Thursday, September 15, 2011

Home-Cured Bacon

Curing bacon at home is easy, don't tell anyone
2 lb pork belly
1/8 cup kosher salt
1 tsp pink curing salt
2 Tbsp black pepper
2 bay leaves, crumbled
1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/4 cup brown sugar, honey, agave nectar, or maple syrup
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 Tbsp juniper berries (optional)
5 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)
1/4 tsp red chile flakes (optional)

Put everything but the belly and the sweetener in a 2 gallon zip top bag and mush it around.

Add the sweetener you’ve chosen and mush again.

Add the belly and rub it all up, making sure it has good contact with the goodies in the bag. Push all the air out by folding/rolling the bag over the belly, zip the top and put it in the fridge. After a few hours, check it and give it another good mushing, it will be easier this time because the cure will be liquified & the belly will have released some moisture.

I turn the belly once a day when I go into the fridge, but at a minimum, turn it after day 3, but just let it hang out in the fridge for a total of 7 days. 

After 7 days, you’ll notice the belly will be stiffer, it’s cured!

Take it out of the bag and rinse it off. Put it in a 200 degree oven for an hour and a half. 

Congratulations! It’s a BACON!

To cook a lot of slices at once, preheat oven to 400 and lay strips of bacon on a sheet pan. Cook for 8 minutes, then rotate pan and cook 8 to 10 minutes more until crispy and brown and bacony. Transfer to a pile of paper towels to drain.

  • Pink salt is POISONOUS. For realz, don’t accidentally eat this stuff.
  • Pink curing salt is not the same as the pink colored Himalayan salt you find at fancy markets. Pink curing salt is sodium nitrite
  • If you have a smoker, swap out the 200 degree oven portion for an hour and a half in there with whatever wood you like (Maple syrup cured works well with maple wood; I like applewood with honey cured bacon; I like pecan wood with brown sugar cured bacon.)
  • Google “lardons” and prepare to weep with at beauty that is the lardon.
  • Bacon grease is fantastic to cook stuff in, don’t waste it.
  • Carve off slices as needed, rather than slicing it all up at once (unless you’re going to freeze it). Remember: less surface area = slower spoilage rate.

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