Sunday, February 10, 2013

Charcuterie: Makin' Bacon

After a busy week it's always good to get a weekend food project going to wind down. This morning I got started on a ratio bread loaf (more on that later) and tonight I did something very important, my friends. Very important, indeed.

I started. Making. Bacon.

While in Detroit last weekend we were able to visit Butcher-Packer, which, if you've done any digging around with regards to charcuterie supplies (and who hasn't?), is the place from which everyone seems to order their stuff. I picked up what will probably amount to a few years' supply of pink charcuterie salt - essential for goodies like bacon, corned beef and the Glass Onion's chicken liver paté (the recipe from which I learned pink charcuterie salt exists). I also grabbed some DC cure #2 for dry sausages, which means I am stocked up for awesome.

Armed with my new goodies and a recipe once again from Ruhlman's Charcuterie it was time to make something of this:

Hello, lovely.
The recipe calls for a 3-5 pound piece of pork belly. I was able to wrangle up one a little larger than two pounds on short notice. Needless to say if this works out I will be wrangling up larger pieces, possibly from actual hog farms. I can't think about it for too long, I just get too excited.

Turns out there are a few ways to go with bacon. There's what probably qualifies as the standard: maple or brown sugar sweetened smoked bacon, great for frying up with eggs and pairing with flavours like Dijon and/or black pepper. Delicious, and it will be done (and possibly modified - sorghum bacon?) but it's omnipresent.

Behold the alternative ==>

This should help conjure up a savoury bacon that's perfectly suited for, say, lardons on a frisée salad with poached egg or carbonara or other lovely things. Also, savoury > sweet. #facts

And so now I wait. The cure should take 7 days on a 3-5lb piece of belly, I'm thinking mine will cure up in a little less. But we'll see.
Homemade Bacon Step 1: The Cure

3-5 lb piece of skin-on pork belly
1/4 cup basic dry cure
1 Tbsp black peppercorns, crushed
3 bay leaves, crumbled
5 garlic cloves, smashed

Toss the pork belly, dry cure and ingredients into a ziplock bag or place into a container about the right size to snugly fit the meat and salt. Mix and coat the meat.

As the belly cures, liquid will be released from it. Turn the belly over to redistribute this liquid every other day during curing. It should take around 7 days, but if the belly is especially

When belly feels firm to the touch it is finished curing. Rinse it thoroughly and pat dry, then proceed to smoke, roast, etc. (Subject for another post).

Basic Dry Cure
1lb kosher salt
8oz sugar
2oz pink charcuterie salt