Home Cured Bacon
BACON, just the mention of it brings to mind salty, smokey, porky goodness. A real compelling argument can be made that bacon is the perfect food. It is actual work to come up with a food that bacon doesn’t go well with. Bacon is one of those foods that even the cheap Supermarket version is excellent, even the biggest food snob will grab a piece of cheapo bacon off of the paper towel when it is hot out of the frying pan. Now imagine being able to make something even better than the store bought stuff right at home with only 4 ingredients! Salt, sugar, Pink Salt,and pork belly come together to make something that blows away the store bought stuff. Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing (Revised and Updated) is my go to book for meat curing projects.
Good Home Cured Bacon Starts With Good Pig Belly
Good home cured bacon starts with a good piece of pig belly. Now sourcing this can be a bit of a pain as until recently pork belly was the province of specialty butcher shops, but with the explosion of the Slow Food Movement and popularity of cooking shows, pork belly can be found right in the supermarket. If your local market doesn’t carry it Spanish or Asian markets are a great place to look for it as well. A regular old butcher may carry it but expect to have to buy a whole belly, which might be a little daunting for a first try. Local farms might be another resource to try as many farmers might be willing to part with a belly or two. Local farmers will also be a great place to start looking for heritage breed pork if that is a route you would like to pursue.
About The Cure
The salt and sugar are common ingredients but Pink Salt is the 800 lb gorilla in the room. Many things have been said about nitrites and it is beyond the scope of this blog to rehash old debates. Botulism will kill you and your family, the nitrite found in Pink Salt inhibits the growth of botulism, it is for that reason that I chose a recipe that includes Pink Salt. Nitrite has been used in curing meat for as long ago as the 1500’s in the form of saltpeter, so it isn’t something that can be easily dismissed. Plus nitrite helps to keep cured meat a rosy color which is just nicer than a gray slab of bacon.
Home cured bacon begins with the making of the cure. At it’s most basic a cure will be made up of sugar, salt, and Pink Salt. A good ratio to work with is 16oz Kosher Salt to 8oz Sugar to 8 teaspoons of Pink Salt. Weighing the ingredients out insures a good cure as different “grinds” of salt and sugar will have different volumes. This ratio seems to hold true across many publications.
- 16 oz Kosher Salt
- 8 oz Sugar
- 8 tsp Pink Salt (Insta Cure #1)
Making Home Cured Bacon
- Spread some cure out on a baking sheet.
- Firmly press the Pork Belly into the cure on all sides. You are shooting for a nice uniform coating.
- Place the coated belly into a large Zip-Loc bag and place it flat in the refrigerator.
- Turn the soon-to-be bacon every other day. This redistributes the liquid which aids in the curing process.
- On the 7th day feel the bacon, it should have a new found firmness to it.
- Rinse the bacon well and pat dry with paper towels.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the bacon on a rack in a roasting pan and roast until it has reached an internal temp of 150 degrees. This can take awhile but be patient it is worth it!
- While it is still hot use a large knife to remove the skin.
- Wait for it to cool, wrap, and place it in the refrigerator.
The bacon will be delicious! It might be a bit hard to slice though, but this is one of those instances where you can call your botched up attempts “rustic” or “artisanal”! Anyway you slice it, it is BACON!!!
Artisanal Bacon frying up!
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