But not just any bacon. This is the real deal, homemade bacon.
I got this recipe from Michael Ruhlman’s “Charcuterie”, which is a great book if you want to start curing your own meats or make your own sausages. I must admit, I was a bit hesitant getting this book, not because of the recipes, but because of the author himself. I’m sure he’s a nice enough fellow (heck, I’d let him buy me a beer or eight), but he couldn’t write his way out of a first-year English lit course, unless, that is, you enjoy reading about everyone’s hair cut and colour, what clothes they’re wearing, the names of said person’s wife and kids, etc. Where he does excel, however, is his cookbooks (The French Laundry, Bouchon, and this one). Ergo, this latest one is great.
On to the bacon. I picked up a pork belly at the market. Farm-raised, it was a good 3-5 cm thick, and weighed about 5 kilos. I cut it in half, and froze one part, which I’ll use to make pancetta later this fall. The other half I salted, liberally, with, um, salt (kosher), curing salts (which I ordered from down south), sugar and, because the end result was breakfast bacon, a bit of maple syrup.
Wrapped it up in a food saver bag and stored it in the fridge for a week, where it brined. Then, took it out, rinsed, and cooked at low temperature, after which I removed the rind. And, oh yes, there were still hairs and nipple marks on the rind. You really get to experience the meat, I guess.
So now, I have about 2 kilos of bacon and cured pork belly. I’m trying to find any reason to eat it. I’m thinking cesar salad tonight. I’ve already used some in a tomato butter recipe, but in that case I used lardons, which is basically the same thing, except the belly isn’t cut into slices but little cubes.
Overall, the taste is exquisite and reminds me more of the bacon we ate back when we were young ‘uns. More of a ham flavour, less of a salty taste.
So now, I’m looking for someone with a cold room who will let me age my other attempts; not just the pancetta, but also some duck ham, perhaps some serrano, etc.