July 31, 2009

Bacon

Bacon3

Mmm, bacon. I need some bacon for the BLT From Scratch Challenge, and I've never cured meat before, so it's time to do a test.

For this first bacon I used the recipe and method in Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It. There are excellent recipes in Michael Ruhlman's Charcuterie and The Paley's Place Cookbook by Vitaly Paley. I'll try both eventually.

For this recipe you'll need to get some curing salt, sometimes called "pink salt," Prague powder, or Insta-Cure #1. Don't confuse this pink salt with actual pink salt from Australia or the Himalayan Plateau. Curing salt includes salt, sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite, and other ingredients, and is commonly dyed pink to make it visually different from regular salt.

Bacon1Bacon Cure

½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
2 tablespoons kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon curing salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Rinse, trim, and dry one hunk of pork belly of about 2½-3 pounds so that it's rectangular. Then mix the cure ingredients together and rub it into the pork belly on both sides and along the edges.

Bacon2

Put the belly into a plastic bag if you have one big enough, or into a glass dish that will hold it and cover with plastic wrap. Put into the refrigerator to cure.

Every day for the next week, massage the juices that have accumulated back into the meat and turn it over. If it still feels squishy anywhere after a week, continue to cure for another day or two. Then you're ready to smoke or roast the bacon.

For this first batch I roasted the bacon in a 200°F oven for about 2 hours until the interior temperature reached 150°F. Then I brushed genuine liquid hickory smoke on both sides and let it cool.

Bacon

This was my first home-cured bacon and I will never buy bacon again. It's just plain silly to buy that which can be made so easily and so very much better than store-bought.

27 comments:

  1. I love your site and all the tips you offer-- thank you for sharing! I also have the book Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It but have not yet tried the bacon. I've had trouble finding curing salt in my area-- will you share what brand you used and where you got it? Thanks so much!

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  2. I'm heading to Laurelhurst Market after work to get another slab of pork belly to cure. Home-cured bacon is so much better than even the best bacon I've purchased... and so handy to have around for making lardons or slicing extremely thinly just to eat roasted. Mmmmmm....
    If I had access to a garden, I would totally take up the Ruhlman challenge. Alas, I have not.

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  3. Thanks! I found curing salt on eBay; shipping cost more than the salt. You can also get it at Amazon (Instacure #1) and a number of other places. I used Eldon's Sausage & Jerky Supply Cure Salt #1. Their phone number is 1-800-352-9453. 4 ounces, $2.95. Don't know whether they ship or not.

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  4. I got mine at New Seasons. For my next batch I'm heading to Nicky USA to see if I can get wild boar belly to use for the challenge.

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  5. Nothing is better than bacon! I love your website, it's so full of information. Thanks for sharing this with us. Now I want to make bacon!

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  6. Thank you for your kind comments. I really appreciate how supportive everyone is.

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  7. My pancetta/bacon just finished last Thursday, I used the basic recipe Ruhlman posted and I also used some spices and sugar alternative (not giving to much away) Woo Hoo, its the BOMB, of the Chain, (its great)...I feel the same as you, bacon from the store ever again? Doubt it.

    I am envious, not sure if I could get wild boar belly...

    ...But I am really concerned with my tomatoes...not sure if I can pull it of by deadline?

    SIGH

    I got my salt cure (Morton's) from the local meat market then added in spices and sugar. Los Gatos Meat Company in California.

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  8. We've had a spell of really hot weather that may just have convinced the tomatoes to finish. I'm not sure I'll have good ones until September, though, so I might not be able to participate in the Challenge. Oh well. At least I learned how easy it is to make bacon.

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  9. OMG! I can not show this to my husband or we will be making bacon this weekend.

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  10. Go ahead, live on the wild side. Besides, it only takes a few minutes. If you start it this weekend you can smoke it next weekend.

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  11. Great stuff! Never knew that making bacon was so easy. Thanks.

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  12. I live in Portland, and I was wondering where you get your prague powder/instacure#1 ?
    Thanks!

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  13. I bought mine online. See my earlier comment with several options.

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  14. ooooh bacon! i've never seen a post on curing meats, interesting. I'll have to try that sometime soon. You always have great posts!
    -kyle

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  15. Thanks! I try to keep things interesting for everyone, myself included.

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  16. my goodness Gareth, that bacon is good. I slightly modified the ingredients to my taste, but this is good stuff. Thanks for the post

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  17. I'm glad to hear you modified it to your taste. That's music to my ears!

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  18. [...] about half a pound (250g) of nice home-cured bacon into lardons. Add to a saucepan on medium-low heat until the fat begins to render. Add 2 leeks, [...]

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  19. I'm seriously considering making my own bacon now. Once it's smoked, do you still slice it thin and pan fry it, or is this really more for making bacon for uses such as your lovely salad above?

    I don't suppose you've got a good recipe for pastrami spices handy? :) I used Emeril's once, but wasn't totally happy with it.

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  20. You can slice and fry it or use it any other way you wish. I don't have a
    pastrami recipe, but Ruhlman does. I imagine your local library has Ratio,
    and there's a recipe there. Alternatively, visit the Pastrami Project.
    http://www.inuyaki.com/archives/2051

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  21. Found Ratio at my local library. I have brisket and pork belly on the grocery list. Nothing like getting a brand new grill with over 700 inches of grill space and a side fire box to inspire one to cure meat!

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  22. Ratio is one of my favorite books. Every cook should own a copy.

    Once you've cured that first slab of bacon you'll never be able to go back
    to what you can buy in stores. Home-cured bacon is the absolute BEST!

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  23. I'm curious - any reason this couldn't be done with brown sugar rather than regular sugar in the curing rub? I have plenty of brown sugar on hand, but not regular table sugar and it's what I use in my dry rub for pork ribs, and I think the one time I did make pastrami it was called for in the brine mix. I'm also thinking it'd impart a nicer flavor and add to that whole molasses-y flavor.

    I'm going to be cooking mine on an actual wood smoker.

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  24. Any sugar will work fine. I've used brown sugar and even maple syrup
    successfully.

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  25. I'm noticing that your pork belly looks like it came skin-off. Mine came skin-on. Ruhlman calls for skin-on in "Charcuterie", but it seems that the skin would make it harder to cure, and also make for a tougher bacon.

    Thoughts?

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  26. I've done it both ways. Skin-on *may* add a day to the curing time, but as a
    reward you have wonderful cured pork skin. Even if you don't want it you can
    be the best person a dog ever met by sharing. I think the flavor is better
    skin-on as well.

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