Written by kjudd on Reddit. He has given me permission to post this here.
Right, so I’ve read the easiest thing to try when dipping your feet into charcuterie was bacon. Let’s just say that affordable bacon here is, well…crap. I’m talking about main supermarket branded stuff here, none of the higher quality artisan bacon.
I underlined affordable because, I, like most of you eat this stuff a lot. So, I figured if I can make a higher quality bacon at home for a similar price, why not? Especially if it’s as easy as I’ve heard.
I was told the easiest piece to use is belly pork and it’s also not too pricey. There are some other things you will need:
- Pink curing salt (also known as Prague powder or sodium nitrate)
You can read more on charcuterie on the Charcuterie Subreddit.
If you are using pink curing salt, make sure you understand that this stuff at the right levels is toxic. You need some scales that will measure in 0.1g increments. Scales that Walter White might have used 😉
Now, if you don’t have these scales, then you can buy a cure that is pre-mixed. It’s still cheap.
Currently there is no known chemical other than sodium nitrite that will prevent botulism. If you are concerned about chemicals, there is more nitrites in a bag of spinach, than is left in 200lbs of cured meats. Remember that pink salt #1 has only 6.25% nitrite by weight. Nitrites are also responsible for the awesome red color in cured meats, as well as the distinctive flavor.
I went down to my local butcher that is free range and organic, and asked for a piece of boneless pork belly (1kg). They cut me off this beauty:
This was only $10 a kilo. Now it might not be as cheap as some of my local supermarkets (closest one to me is $9 for a kilo), but for $1 more and it’s organic, free range, and from a local business – I can’t say no.
Now I’m sure we can find this cheaper in a nice big chunk, but this was my first time curing meat so I decided to start out with a manageable size.
Wash your hands before you start this! The meat will be sitting around for nearly a week, and your hands will be all over it.
Yields about 30 servings of home cured bacon.
- 2.2 pounds pork belly
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2.5 g sodium nitrate
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 5 whole bay leaves, crushed
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup brown sugar
1. Add seasoning to salt and sugar and mix it all up.
2. Introduce this mix to the pork.
3. Rub it all over, get in the cracks, on the end. Don’t leave any part untouched.
4. The meat should start to glisten. That’s the salt pulling up the water out of the meat.
5. Slap it in a Ziploc bag and pop it in the fridge. Flip this bad boy once a day!
You will notice a pool of water collecting in the bag – this is a good thing.
For mine, I put it in the fridge on Monday morning, and flipped it once a day until Friday. People seem to have all varying ideas on how long is OK, but it seems like 5-10 days is a good range.
This piece was small, and it was also quite firm when pressed so I figured I’d cook some up. I sliced a bit off, rinsed it, and cooked it. It tasted like bacon – a bit salty but pretty good. So I soaked it for an hour to get rid of the excess salt. I patted it dry and left it in the fridge overnight.
This dried it out a bit, and its meant to help with smoking. I live in an apartment and don’t have a smoker, so I just used the oven to make unsmoked bacon. There are plenty of other options you have here, like using smoked salt in the cure or liquid smoke.
You can hang it for a week or so and make pancetta, but that’s a bit out of my scope.
The next day, I popped it in the oven. I set the oven to 100C (212F) and stuck this sucker in there. Once the internal temperature hits 65C (150F), it’s finished. This piece took about 2 hours to cook.
Pop it back in the fridge for a few hours and it will firm up. You can slice away and enjoy all the time! I sliced off the edges and made it nice and square.
Once you’ve learned the basics, you can start experimenting with different flavors of cures. I added coffee grounds to this one for a richer flavor – hence the color.
Then I rubbed it in very well.
Tell us about your curing adventures in the comments below!
|Home Cured Bacon||Calories||Fats(g)||Carbs(g)||Fiber(g)||Net Carbs(g)||Protein(g)|
|2.2 pounds pork belly||5169||539||0||0||0||93.21|
|2.5 g sodium nitrate||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|1 clove garlic, crushed||4||0.01||0.99||0.1||0.89||0.19|
|1 tablespoon ground thyme||12||0.32||2.75||1.6||1.15||0.39|
|1 teaspoon nutmeg||12||0.8||1.08||0.5||0.58||0.13|
|5 whole bay leaves, crushed||6||0.2||1.3||0.5||0.8||0.1|
|1 teaspoon black pepper||6||0.07||1.47||0.6||0.87||0.24|
|¼ cup brown sugar||209||0||53.95||0||53.95||0.07|