2011/10/25

Uh, yeah. I did that. (Bacon. From "Scratch")

Good evening, y'all.  Something about being in Southern Texas is pushing me to talk about meat.  Especially after listening to stories all afternoon about one of my Texan colleague's adventures with a wild pig (well, actually three pigs if you want to be precise).  This "Yank" is just recently learning how much of a pest that roaming pigs have become.  (Who knew?  We don't have a lot of pigs running around wild in the Adirondacks.  Deer, yes.  Pigs, not so much. But, having grown up in a culture of hunting, I get it.  Kind of.)

Hunting really has nothing to do with my post.  But pig does.  More specifically, bacon. 

I am kind of feeling like a new mother these days.  You know the one.  With the wallet inserts that unfold into three miles of pictures of Perfect LittleTimmy. 


We AAALLLL know about Perfect Little Timmy. 

I have a Little Timmy (don't freak out, mom - I promise I'll explain...)

Normally, you won't see me cozying up to a side of pig, but I do "love me" some bacon.  (It's one of the reasons I never jumped over to the vegetarian ship)  However, most of the commercial bacons were not loving me.  To make a long story short, I have an on-going head(ache) problem that renders me incompatible with many food additives (MSG & all the other names it goes by - so not my friend).

I had found a couple of bacons that were not treated that I could handle.  But they were kind of pricey.  And at 6$ plus for a half pound, I could say "no thanks".  It was a bit of a bummer to my bacon loving self.  So when I came across a recipe for bacon in the "Salt" section of Ruhlman's Twenty, my interest was definitely picqued.  Except, I couldn't find the pork belly.  Or the curing salt (at least not right away). 

My Baby Timmy started out as six pounds of pork belly.  Let me tell you, getting my hands on this pork belly was kind of like giving birth - a real pain... (at least in the figurative sense, if not the literal).  I think I visited ten different butcher shops to no avail.  I finally started picking up the phone and calling. 

There was a real "a ha" moment.  Duh, Cher.  Finally found someone who had it.  Of course, it just happened to be the local mom & pop shop five minutes from where I work - not the fancy schmancy butcher in the suburbs twenty minutes from where I work.  Lesson learned. 

As noted - getting my hands on the pork was the hardest part.  Step 2 - rub the seasonings into the belly and toss into a ziploc bag.  Seal.  Turn & rub every couple of days. 


And after going through puberty (i.e. curing)...


I had bacon in the makin'


About two and a half hours roasting in a low oven (200F) and we have gradulated from pork belly to bacon ready to be cooked to go in my belly. 


After cooling, everything was sliced up into strips & lardons and thrown in the freezer.  And with the winter cooking season upon us, I am sure it won't be too long until I find myself starting another batch. 


Michael Ruhlamn shared a recipe for home cured bacon here on his blog.  This critical piece, in my mind was the curing salt.  I split my belly into two different cures - one with pepper, garlic & brown sugar; the other was a mustard, garlic & honey cure.  The rub can easily be adapted to preference.  Mr. Ruhlman notes that the curing salt is optional - but if you don't use it, your bacon won't be as bacony.  And what would be the point in that?

And that, my friends, is the story of my bacon.  Now that I have this out of my system, I will try to refrain from Tweeting about bacon or pulling out my sleeve full of "Perfect Little Timmy" pictures.  I said I'd try - I can't promise you I will be successful, because my foray into curing has kind of put the urge in me to try future projects (as long as I can find someone who wants to eat it - 'cuz I am not so much interested in eating them as I am in learning the process). 

I think I am going to go now.  If you are a glutton for making the people around you wonder what planet you are from, you may want to check out Ruhlman's site & give it a go.  I got a few strange looks on this one - but maybe it was just me.  (I think I noticed the sideways glances too).  But at the end of the day, I get to say (drum roll please) that I'm bringing home the bacon... 

9 comments:

  1. NICE!! I'm impressed! I tried to find pork belly the other day, and couldn't at the butcher closest to me. I may have to branch out. If I lived near you, I would volunteer to eat as much cured meat as you wanted to feed me. YUM.

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  2. Home made bacon sounds amazing. I once heard of a pescetarian who reserved the right to eat bacon!

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  3. Cher, this is amazing (and how jealous I am of having lardons in the freezer! Who does that? Why, you do!) Just amazing.

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  4. Very nice! Bacon seems like one of those things that is impossible to make at home, but in reality it looks pretty straight-forward (once you have the ingredients, that is).

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  5. Cher, your bacon came out great! Take it from another bacon lover, turned bacon maker....you will be reminding others ALL the time that you have home made bacon...mainly because you will be using it all the time. I'm almost out of my current batch and have another belly waiting for the bacon treatment!!

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  6. @ Steph - how could I have forgotten that you are a sister bacon maker???? I am going to have to try not to be obnoxious about it :-)

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  7. Wow! That is really amazing. I'm from Montana so I completely get the hunting thing, and have a really difficult time with Venison on menues at $40+ a shot since that was our everyday meat. I don't know that I've ever had homemade bacon though and would love to give this a try!

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  8. This is something I definitely want to make in the future. I will archive the recipes that you gave. It's so pure and you know exactly what's in the bacon. Really, really love them. Now I only have to achieve pork belly.

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  9. How amazing to make your own bacon! Nice to know there is nothing in it except the pork and seasonings! Great accomplishment!

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