Monday, January 5, 2015


Let's take a quick break from rapier A&S and go to tasty tasty A&S. Yay bacon!

So I was reading about curing meats online (hooray Goons With Spoons) and the description of how to make bacon seemed pretty easy. Specifically, the nice person who posted it took this recipe from Ruhlman:

5 lbs fresh pork belly!

I've never seen pork belly in the flesh (ha, ha) before. It's pretty neat.

2 ounces (1/4 cup Morton or Diamond Crystal coarse kosher) salt
2 teaspoons pink curing salt #1
4 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
4 bay leaves, crumbled
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup brown sugar or honey or maple syrup
5 cloves of garlic, smashed with the flat side of a chef's knife
2 tablespoons juniper berries, lightly crushed (optional)
5 to 10 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)

This smelled pretty great.

Then, the recipe says:
"Put your belly in the zip-top bag or on a sheet tray or in a plastic container. Rub the salt and spice mixture all over the belly. Close the bag or cover it with plastic wrap, and stick it in the refrigerator for seven days (get your hands in there and give the spices another good rubbing around midway through).

After seven days, take it out of the fridge, rinse off all the seasonings under cold water and pat it dry.

Put it on a sheet tray and put it in the oven (put it on a rack on a sheet tray if you have one) and turn the oven on to 200 degrees F. (if you want to preheat the oven, that's fine, too). Leave it in the oven for 90 minutes (or, if you want to measure the internal temperature, until it reaches 150 degrees F.).

Let it cool and refrigerate it until you're ready to cook it. But I know. You won't be able to wait. So cut off a piece and cook it. Taste it, savor it. Congratulations! It's bacon!"

So I did that! I have no idea if I used too much or not enough cure on the proto-bacon, but I covered it in the mix and put it in the bags. Maybe I needed to really pour like half of it in there? I'll try that next time, but I used most of it on the two bags, so I don't feel like it'll be too bad. Anyone know if I should do that, next time around, though?


  1. You and Kate should talk shop. She's smoked and cured a ton of bacon since we met.

    Once you make your own you'll never be able to go back to store bought BS bacon.

  2. I haven't used this exact recipe, but the amount sounds about right. Where did you get your pork belly? Also, if this turns into more than just a one time experiment, vertical smokers are actually not that expensive...

    1. I got it at Silva's Market, a small local place. I coooould have gotten something like 11 pounds, but that seemed like a bit much to start with.

      The amounts are probably right, I just don't know if I need more on the meat/in the bag, but I'll try that next time.

      We do have a small charcoal smoker in the garage - housemate inherited it from a coworker - but let me tell you what I don't want to experiment with for the first time outside in this weather. ;) I'm super excited to see how this turns out in a week!

      Any thoughts on what to do with the skin? I suppose I could save it for soups or something, but maybe pork rinds could be a thing.

    2. Yeah, 11 pounds would be a lot to start with, for sure.

      I totally understand about the temperature issue. It's much easier to get the bacon up to 150 when it's 70 out, than when it's 30. The flavor that the smoke adds is definitely worth it though. Plus then you get to play around with what kind of wood to use (maple? apple? hickory?) and then chips vs chunks... Anyway.

      It's definitely easiest to cut the skin off while it's still hot. I haven't done pork rinds, but you can definitely throw it in the freezer for soup.

      I'm very curious to see how the flavor turns out with this one. You definitely have some good stuff in there. That part is definitely fun to experiment with, as long you keep the essential elements - salt and sugar.

    3. Good point on the ease of getting the temperature up there - I was just thinking that I didn't want to be outside.

      I kinda want to try something with curry in it next time. Curry bacon *has* to be good!

    4. Yeah, go for it! We made a cinnamon one, and a hot pepper one. I'd just say start with a small batch first, in case you need to fine-tune the recipe.

  3. What's in the bag?? I can't read! Iiiiiiit's BACON! :D