I always try to eat delicious food. Unfortunately I don't have that much money, so I have to cook a lot of it at home. But thats OK because I love cooking and I love eating at home with my wife. This is a website with my favorite recipes and a little bit of commentary.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Bacon Step 1

I bought a whole raw pork belly from the Niman Ranch. It has quite an interesting history, but the long and short of it is that it is a cooperative of family farms. I got the idea and instructions for making bacon from the book Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing.

You need 2 things that you might not have on hand if you want to make your own bacon - pink salt and a hog belly. I could not find any butchers locally who could order me a hog belly so I was out of luck there. The Niman Ranch is probably the next best thing, as the pigs come from family farms, many of them in Iowa. One farm in Iowa is famous for letting the pigs tear around and chase each other. They have huge wallows and sit in there all day making a big stink. I hope my hog belly came from that farm. The pink salt you can buy from Sausagemaker.com under the name instacure 1.

Basic Dry Cure

1 pound kosher salt
8 ounces sugar
2 ounces pink salt

To cure the bacon pour a little of the dry cure onto a cookie sheet. You will have to cut your pork belly into pieces with nice square ends. Don't throw away the trimmings. Those can be made into lardons for braising. Plop the piece of pork belly down into the salt and coat all sides.

Next package it in ziplock bags or in foodsaver bags.

Put it in the fridge for at least 7 days. This time of year is great because I can put it in the garage and it is the perfect temperature. You're supposed to turn it over every now and again to redistribute the juices. At 7 days you're supposed to poke the hog belly with a finger. If it isn't firm you need to let it sit longer. I'll post again with the next steps.