Really, this might be the post to skip if you don't eat meat. In fact, I think you should just read my post about Arugula Pecan Pesto. Scroll down quickly too.
We love bacon in this house. Every Saturday morning we religiously make bacon and eggs with toast, my week would not be complete without this meal. At some point in my obsessions with food, I always try to recreate my favored item from scratch (this can be disastrous and has resulted in many failed candy experiments). Recently, we have made our own bacon with great success! I will document the whole process below.
Warning! The gross out factor is a little high here...
modified from Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn
2. This is the gross step. Remove skin from pork belly, if it is present. I made Derek do this. You could wait to do this later, but the skin grossed me out. *
Note bag of skin in photo
There is no easy way to remove the skin. It is gross and time consuming, but I promise it will be worth it. The answer is to buy pork belly with no skin. It is available like this, but we did not know to ask.
Derek removing skin.
3. Make dry cure. Ingredients: 1/2 cup Kosher salt, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon pink curing salt.
Pink curing salt is obtained from specialty stores, it is also known as nitrite salt and it prevents the botulism, makes the meat a nice color, changes the flavor, etc. It is also toxic in large quantities. Life lesson = use for curing, not for the table.
4. Add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the salt to a tray of some kind with a couple of tablespoons crushed black peppercorns and about 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar. Stir.
5. Wash and pat the belly dry. Coat in salt mixture, shake of excess. Place the belly in a plastic bag and get as much air out as you can.
Yummy dry cure
6. Put the pork in the fridge and let it cure sitting flat for about 7 days, flipping it every other day to redistribute the juices.
7. After 7 days if the thickest part of the belly feels firm it is cured. If it is still feeling squishy keep it refrigerated for another day or two.
8. Rinse the belly thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels. Curing liquid should be discarded.
9. Preheat oven to 200 degrees (Fahrenheit).
10. In a roasting pan, roast belly until it reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees (F), this will take a couple of hours, maybe longer. This will now smell delicious and look like bacon. You could also remove the skin here while it is hot (and probably easier to remove). I was not willing to wait this long, because it weirded me out to have pig nipples curing in my fridge (yup, I said nipples).
11. Allow bacon to cool to room temperature, when it is cool, wrap, refrigerate and enjoy at your leisure. It will keep for about a week like this, but you can freeze it to make it last longer. Remember when you cook homemade bacon, it is really best cooked at low temperatures for a longer time period. It will still get crispy, but it needs longer and lower...
Homemade bacon on Saturday morning
*Derek asked me, "So you are willing to eat meat, but you don't want to think about it belonging to an animal?"
I replied "I know it belonged to a pig, I just don't want to see nipples hanging out in my fridge. It is weird."