Home-Cured Bacon

baconsliced



After visiting Fubonn, “The Largest Asian Shopping Center in Oregon”, a few weeks ago and seeing the overwhelming selection in their meat department, I knew one thing for sure: the hour was nigh that I would attempt to make my own bacon. The pork belly was abundant. I went back a week ago and picked up a 3lb slab or so for around $8.00.



Using Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn’s book Charcuterie as a guide I set out to find some pink salt. It says in the book that you will likely have to order it and have it shipped to your home, but being in Portland, a culinary empire unto itself, I just new there had to be some about. I headed over to Pastaworks and looked around for some there, but they didn’t have any for sale. So, I asked their on-site butcher Dave if he might know where I could pick some up. He quickly asked me how much I needed. I said how much can you spare, and he replied, “About 50 lbs.” It turns out that he had ordered what he thought would be a small box, but ultimately proved to be a life-time supply. I left with about 8oz. The Basic Dry Cure in the book couldn’t be simpler. It consists of 1# Kosher Salt, 8oz Sugar, and 2oz Pink Salt. That’s it. You mix it up, then rub it all over your pork belly. For my first attempt I also added crushed juniper berries, garlic, and black pepper, thus creating a savory bacon. Most breakfast bacon, I believe is sweet cured, typically with brown sugar, so this turned out to be quite a departure from what I am used to.



dsc_0058



To carry out the curing process the only equipment that is required is a 2 gallon Ziploc bag and a pan to place the pork belly in. Once the dry cure has been applied, you put it in the bag with the other ingredients (you can basically use anything you want to.) Then place it in the refrigerator, and flip it over everyday for 7 days, or until the belly feels firm at the thickest point. Effortless, really. Once it is done curing, take it out, rinse it off, and dry it. Then place the pork belly on a wire rack on a baking sheet, and put it in a 200º oven for 2 hours. Take it out and slice off the skin with a sharp knife, and there you have it: Bacon.



baconcooked

Advertisements

~ by Catastrophysicist on April 19, 2009.

20 Responses to “Home-Cured Bacon”

  1. I followed the link from Flickr. Thanks for providing the recipe. This is something I definitely want to try, although I’m not certain the photograph of my results will be as striking as yours.

  2. That is some fine looking Elephant Garlic.

  3. Sounds and looks fantastic!

  4. That is the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen.

  5. What did it taste like?

    • The biggest difference is in the texture. It’s never grisly, or chewy really. It’s totally crisp, but like a light crispiness all though way through. Besides that, this in particular has a strong juniper berry flavor. Juniper is a very aromatic and pungent. They use it to make gin, for instance, and gin can be very strong. I only used about three crushed berries, and it seemed to be just the right amount.

  6. On Mississippi street, (I believe it is called At The Meadow) they have a dizzying array of salts and peppers from around the world. A little pricy, but they have pink, black, red, salt blocks, etc. Pretty cool to go and taste different salts from around the world, all with unique characteristics. This bacon thing is on my list to try. Thanks for the run down.

  7. […] Belly Reuben One of the benefits of making your own bacon is that you end up with a boat load of bacon fat. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it […]

  8. that’s just beautiful. Sounds so simple too! Also, We have a fab salt market here that sells slabs of pink salt to grill on… I would imagine you’ve heard of it by now? But it’s called “The Meadow” and it’s in North Portland: 3731 N. Mississippi Ave. 503-288-4633. Many happy returns to Fubonn 🙂

    • I’ve been meaning to note that the pink salt needed for curing is different from the other pink salt which I think comes from Hawaii. Curing salt contains a lot of sodium nitrate which is not good for you. There is really only a trace amount in the final cure. It is also almost neon pink, and has a consistency like table salt. So, if you see some 80’s out neon pink salt, don’t eat it. I keep meaning to go to The Meadow, but haven’t yet. It sounds like an awesome shop.

      • Ah yes — the stuff they tell you to stay away from 🙂 I know you can purchase bacon w/o nitrates, but is it feasible to make it yourself that way? I should probably google that… also, could you smoke it instead of bake it? I mean if that’s the flavor you like… I know Clay’s (SE 30th & division) smokes things by the pound, but I don’t know how much temperature control they allow…

      • I feel like nitrates are only a big deal health-wise if you have a heart condition or if you’re using viagra. Nitrates occur natural in tons of vegetables, especially celery, and small amounts aren’t that bad for you. If you feel that you are healthy enough to eat bacon, then I wouldn’t worry about it. I read around, and it looks like if you make bacon without the pink salt, it just doesn’t turn out the same, and that’s because you won’t be able to leech out nearly as much water from the meat. I think they call it a dry cure, because it actually dries the meat. It just doesn’t sound like a good trade off. When I made this, I finished it off in the oven because I didn’t have a grill to smoke it on, but it turned out good. However, I have since cured another couple pounds, and smoked it with some applewood, and it was SO MUCH BETTER! I just smoked it on my small Weber, and once the smoke ran out (I had one of those cans you just throw on the coals, if you have ever seen those around) after an hour or so, I put it in the oven until the temp was up to 200º. And. . . my girlfriend works at Clay’s, and I’ve been thinking about having them smoke a brisket for me. I’ve done that myself, too, but it would just be really convenient to have them do it. They charge 1.50/lb.

      • You can buy pink salt in Portland at Market Supply, 139 SE Taylor, by the pound for $.99/lb. Their web site: http://www.marketsupply.com/. Lots of commercial cooking equipment although not as large a selection as Boxer Northwest on NE Broadway.

        Lots better than the <$20 I paid (includes shipping) for one pound of pink salt from Sausagemaker.com in Buffalo NY. 😦

  9. I’ve learned that nitrates are only important if you want to preserve the natural color of the pork belly. They can surely be left out.

    • If you slow smoke, you need the nitrates to prevent botulism. If you use a smoker at 125-140 degress, you MUST use salt and “pink” salt. If you smoke or bake at 180-225 degress, you do not need nitrates, but the fat starts to melt at 160 degress. Most smoked meats must have nitrates added. Note, in the distant past, most salt contained a fair amount of nitrate.
      Also note that some holistic doctors are now saying that small amounts of nitrates are good for you. Nitrates that are heated to high tempature (crispy bacon) form nitrosamines which have been declared carcinogens. From organic chemistry, Vit C is preventitive of this effect.
      So use the “pink” salt and do not cook over high heat.
      Pharmacist who hates drugs and drug companies.

      • Greg, thank you for this concise overview of nitrates in curing. This is a fairly tricky issue, and I have heard a number of differing opinions on the matter. Your input is greatly appreciated.

  10. Pink salt is also known as “Insta Cure #1″ or Prague powder which has nitrite and is for meat that will be cooked, smoked or canned. There’s also an Insta Cure #2” for sausage for dry curing. The web site http://www.sausagemaker.com has good descriptions but their $10/lb pink salt costs more than $10 to ship.

  11. Making my own bacon this weekend and came across your post. Your article was great and helpful. Now to find the curing salts…

    • Jason,
      If you’re in Portland, you can find pink salt (aka Prague Powder or Insta-Cure #1) at Market Supply, 139 SE Taylor, by the pound for $.99/lb. Their web site: http://www.marketsupply.com/. See my post from Apr. 19, 2010 above. If you buy from sausagemaker.com, you’ll pay >$20 pound with shipping.

      John

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: