I love cured meats. For what ever reason, I always been attracted to the saltly goodness of pepperoni, salami and bacon. When I was about 13 years old, I remember begging the local Harlem pizza guy to sell me just the sliced pepperoni, so I could get my next cured meat fix. Fast forward to last year, when I decided go pursue this “make food yourself” lifestyle change, making my own cured meats were the logical choice. I really wanted to make by own salami and/or pepperoni, but I am still nervous
about the casings and the hanging of the meat about killing myself with contaminated meat. After some research on the internet, I discovered that I can make my own bacon without much worry about bacteria.
For a while, I used a curing mixture that I bought from Cabela’s and it worked well. It just did not give me the flexibility to create my own signature style of bacon. Then, I bought the best book on the subject, Charcuterie by Mark Ruhlman and it opened my eyes to a whole world to cured meat goodness. I will be using that book as a guide and sharing my results from it. The basic dry cure from Charcuterie seems to be a standard curing recipe for many people who make bacon.
Basic Dry Cure, from Mark Ruhlman’s Charcuterie
1 pound/450 grams kosher salt
8 ounces/225 grams sugar
2 ounces/50 grams pink salt
50 grams basic dry cure for about 2.26 kg (five pounds) of pork belly
15 grams granulated garlic
10 grams dry red pepper flakes
5 grams of crushed black peppercorns
Spread the dry curing mixture all over the pork belly and rub it into the meat. Place the meat into a plastic Ziploc bag and set it in your refrigerator for about a week to ten days. Rinse and soak the pork belly in cold water for an hour. After an hour, dry the pork belly with paper towels and set it in a the refrigerator overnight. Drying the pork belly in the refrigerator allows the smoke the “stick” to the pork belly and gives bacon a better taste. Smoke in a smoker for four hours or until the internal temperature of the bacon is 145 degrees.
You will find that once you make your own bacon from scratch, you will have a hard time going back to eating store bought, commerical bacon. Enjoy!
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