Monday, November 18, 2013

EAT The Whole Pig: How To Cure Your Own Bacon


Of course after my recent purchase of a whole pig, bacon was certainly on the agenda for one of the slabs of belly. Unfortunately, bacon does not come off the pig ready to go — first you have to cure it, then you need to smoke it! We will walk through how I went about the curing process today and I'll detail in a later post the smoking process. 


I had my side of the pork belly cut into 3 slabs and used one for the bacon in today's post. I rinsed the fresh belly slab well, trimmed it up and patted it completely dry. After looking up many different curing methods, I settled on a mixture of what I thought would taste best:

2 1/2 pound pork belly (Mine was actually a little closer to 2 3/4 pounds)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt (I used Peg's Salt made locally and mixed with herbs and spices)
1t curing salt
1T dark molasses
1T freshly ground black pepper

First, I mixed the sugar with the molasses, then added in the salts and pepper, again mixing well.


Working on a tray pan, I laid the belly down and began to massage with the curing mixture. I did not really press the mixture into the meat, I simply coated both sides, spreading it in a circular motion until both sides and edges were coated.


I wrapped the belly tightly in plastic wrap, placed it into a large resealable bag and into the fridge it went. Each day I would go out to massage the meat for a minute or two (while it was still in the bag) and turn it over in the fridge.


After 3 days you can really start to the see the moisture release in the bag. I continued to visit it for 8 days, massaging and turning.


After 8 days, I removed it from the bag and proceeded on to the smoking process. Below is the first shot out of the bag.


I am looking forward to sharing the smoking process later in the week. Have you cured your own bacon before and what method do you use?

More from this series: EAT The Whole Pig

E.A.T. local E.A.T. well

4 comments:

  1. I've cured and smoked a number a bellies following Ruhlman's recipe in Charcuterie which calls for hot smoking. The last time, however, in attempt to recreate Benton's, I upped some of the cure ingredients and opted to cold smoke for about 12 hours. The results - while not as amazing as Benton's - were dramatically better than my previous attempts. So cold smoking it is from now on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah... I wish Benton's wasn't so expensive!

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  2. can a beef cut be used instead? and if so, which do you recommend? i prefer beef bacon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes and that cut is called the Plate Steak and that is located under the short rib.

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