Getting my bac-on – dry curing bacon, stage one
(Title inspired by the fact I sang a meaty “Get your freak on” parody while doing my cure mixing and meat massaging. It was so bad that even the cats, who usually “enjoy” my silly songs and certainly love it whenever I’m doing anything with meat in the kitchen, left the room.)
I finally started my first load of homemade bacon last night. I got my bacon on.
I’ve been meaning to start a load for a couple of months but things kept happening and I didn’t do it. Then on Sunday, we had the best bacon we’ve eaten in a long, long, long time on Sunday (from the excellent Swillington Farm) – I doubt ours will compared but my desire for perfectly preserved pink pork products is strong enough to force me to give it a go. Conveniently our monthly meatbox from Swillington also contained a small slab of belly pork – about 750g/1.5lbs – so streaky here we come :)
(Mmm, soon-to-be streaky!)
I spent a lot of time looking at different cure recipes and was surprised by how many recipes missed out vital bits of information — carefully detailing how much of each thing to use in the cure but then missing out the weight of the meat (300g? 3000g?) — but I think I figured out the required ratios in the end. I’ll hold off posting anything about my cure now until we’ve tasted the finished product – I will say though that I’m reluctant to use saltpetre and haven’t used it this time around. I’m quite glad we’re only using a small piece of pork as I suspect the cure will need some tweaking, for example, there seems to be a lot of coriander seeds on the meat, even though they make up a tiny percentage of the cure mix and I forgot to include pepper, which had been in my original plan. This post is more for me so I can remember what I did for next time :)
(I did grind the salt up further after I took these pictures.)
What I did: I mixed my cure (NB FutureLouisa: the recipe is in your blue scrap paper notebook), scored the rind the opposite way to the existing scores, then massaged most of the dry cure into the meat. I plopped it into a conveniently correct-sized container, skin down, and within a few hours, liquid had already started leaking out. This evening – and every day for the next five-ish days, I’m going to pour off the liquid and apply more rub (if needed). Then after that, I’ll rinse off any excess cure, pat it dry, then you’re supposed to leave it to hang but I think we’ll probably end up going down the route which sees it wrapped and rested in the fridge. (In the future, I want to try wet-curing & cold-smoking too – but I’ll wait until I’ve finally got around to building another smoker cabinet.)
We’ll just have to see how it turns out!
(Apologies for the bad lighting/mega-shadows in the pictures – we’ve had our normal kitchen lights taken down so the plasterer can reboard and skim the ceiling in there, and have two nasty, very yellow bulbs on wires in their place. Given the disarray, it’s probably not the best time to try an culinary experiment but nevermind!)
Have you made/do you make your own bacon? If so, have you got any tips/advice for my next few days or for my cure next time?