Posted by: edibleplanet | February 17, 2009

Homemade smoky bacon

Making home-made bacon isn’t anywhere near as difficult as you are thinking! Inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Meat book, I wandered down to our local butcher and asked for a slab of belly pork. I ended up with a nice square of meat 30cm x 30cm. I could instantly see that if it was cut into thin slices, it would be streaky bacon.

The process for making the bacon is very straight forward:

Take a good 1kg of salt and chuck it into a food processor
Add aromatics if you want (I used 2 bayleaves, about 20 peppercorns and some juniper berries )
Add a handful of soft brown sugar

The pièce de résistance for my bacon was the addition of a splash of liquid smoke. I hoped that this would impart a nice smoky flavour to the bacon without the hassle of making a cold smoker.

I blended the ingredients until I had a fine brown powder—my cure! I rubbed a couple of handfuls into the pork belly, making sure I got the cure into every nook and cranny. I then placed the bacon, for that is what it had become, into a plastic sealed container and put it in the fridge.

An impressive amount of ‘juice’ came out of the meat over the first 24 hours. This was poured away and another handful of cure was rubbed into the meat. I continued to do this each day. After about 3 days of this I fried up a small piece to see what it was like. It was good. Very identifiably bacon and with a very subtle smoky flavour (I have since made myself a simple cold-smoker and realised what a gentle smokiness the liquid smoke imparts—it’s the difference between a friendly pat on the head vs a whack in the face). The bacon was much saltier than shop bought bacon, but it would be absolutely perfect to cut into rustic chunks for adding to stews and casseroles. I sliced it as thinly as I could without an actual bacon slicer and put it in the freezer. It was wonderful added to various recipes, and I try to always have some in the freezer these days.

Why not give this a go? The ingredients are easy to get hold of and the result is nothing short of real bacon!

–Karl

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