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!