The Cure

At long last, the bacon experiment is under way. I’m in love with our local market – Morse Fresh Market. They have anything a serious cook could want – Mexican/Spanish, Italian, French, Jewish, and Scandinavian foods are all well represented, as well as natural/organic ingredients. The meat and seafood sections are incredible – every part of the animal is stocked – all of the usual cuts as well as chicken feet, beef tongue, kidneys – and most excitedly for me, uncured pork belly, skin on, off the rib. One pound cost just under two dollars. They sell presliced pork belly in the refrigerated case in one pound packages so I picked up one today. I’m sure I could ask them to set aside a whole five pound slab for me as well, but I thought I’d start with a small quantity just to familiarize myself with the process.

Charcuterie by Brian Polcyn and Michael Ruhlman is finally getting some use in my house. Since I’m obsessed with smoking everything in sight these days, I decided to give the Maple Cured Smoked Bacon a try. The recipe as printed calls for a five pound slab of pork belly, so I had to reduce the measurements for the rub since I was only working with a pound. Instead of quartering the recipe, I merely halved it – any smaller and I wouldn’t have enough of a rub to work with. Hopefully my bacon won’t come out too strong or off because of it – but that’s the whole reason I wanted to start with a small quantity anyway – just to see what happens.

It’s a pretty basic recipe – pink (curing) salt, kosher salt, brown sugar and maple syrup. I also added some cracked black pepper to give the meat a little contrast with the salty and sweet flavors. I’ve got to let the pork sit in the fridge for seven days, turning it every other day. The pork will release some of it’s juices, mixing with the rub to form a brine. It’s important that as much of the pork as possible stay in contact with the brine during the cure.

On day seven, I’ll rinse the brine off the pork and then smoke it for a hour or so (Charcuterie recommends three hours for the full five pounds) in apple wood smoke and voila – I’ll have home made bacon! I can’t wait to give it a try – stay tuned about stage two of the process when I get it in the smoker!

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5 thoughts on “The Cure

  1. I turned the bacon yesterday – it’s got a nice brine and it’s starting to firm up and turn a nice dark bacon-y color. Four more days until apple smoking. One more turn on Saturday…

  2. Bacon experiment! We did bacon, pancetta, and ham in the summer. We followed what the recipe called for – and found out that both bacon and pancetta are a bit too salty to our liking coz I probably cured the meat a bit too long, Oi! However, the 1-min blanching did the trick and the bacon turned out wonderful. Anyway, good luck!!!!

  3. We had to do all three together because we brought a whole pig from a farmer!! (we are still eating from that pig 3 months later…. haha). I used the recipe from Chow, which is pretty similar from Michael Rhulman’s. Couldn’t get any juniper berries from any store, so i used rosemary instead (that’s before I found out that there are juniper just around the corner of my house)…. looking forward to reading the tasting note of your bacon!

    • That’s so awesome that you got a whole pig! I’ve been wanting to get one for awhile – we just need to get a chest freezer. I think we finally have room for one in our current apartment.

      And I ended up smoking the bacon on Sunday and fried up a little last night for a taste – I’ll have my assessment posted tomorrow for everyone to check out.

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