April 1, 2011

Charcutepalooza: Makin’ Bacon

We got started a little late so this post is a bit of back tracking and a bit of this current month’s challenge. BACON!  Who wouldn’t want to make their own bacon and Canadian bacon. the Bacon Challenge was from February’s challenge on Curing and the Canadian bacon is from April’s Challenge on Hot Smoking.

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Makin’ Bacon Day 1:

   We started with a 5 1/2 lb  pork belly and some pink salt, courtesy of Central Meats in Chesapeake.  We decided to try  a few different cures and see which one we like the best. So we split our belly into 4 pieces and away we went. We coated each piece a basic dry cure  then put each piece in it’s own bag and started playing with different flavors.

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     In the end we decided to try  2 sweet cures and 2 savory.  One that didn’t have any extra flavors so that we can try fresh bacon without anything getting in the way.   One with smashed garlic, bay leaves and peppercorns. On the sweet side we had heard about honey cured bacon being pretty tasty so we are trying that and maple and brown sugar.                                                                  

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         Then they sat in the fridge until they were ready to meet with the heat. We decided to roast 1 sweet and 1 savory to get the true flavors from each without any added smoke and since we were firing up the smoker for the Canadian bacon  from the April challenge at the same time why not try 2 that we added a but of smoky flavor to.

Makin’ Bacon Day 4: Brining the day away.

      We started the brine for the Canadian Bacon. It was simple enough to get ready, the only thing we had to work out was how to store that in our fridge. We cut the brine recipe in half  since we only had a 2 lb loin. We cooked, cooled , chilled and stirred to get the brine ready.  Then we dropped in the pork and in the fridge it went.

Makin’ Bacon Day 6: Un-brining the night away

    I got home from work and pulled the pork loin out of the brine and rinsed it off to rest in the fridge until the next day……

Makin’ Bacon Day 7: It’s time to get cooking.

     I got everything rinsed and ready and then the rain started! I thought I was going to get a bit of a break but no such luck for me. So I set up our umbrella and got smoker fired up.

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That last 25 degrees was a long cold wait. Finally the smoker was ready to go and I got everything situated. Then just checked on the temp every 15 min. or so and in around 2 hours we had beautiful smoky bacon and some really tasty oven roasted bacon not to mention some yummy Canadian bacon.

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We put the garlic and bay leaf bacon to use almost immediately and roasted a chicken with a few slices on top, last night we had delicious BLT’s with avocado and maple cured bacon and  I really enjoyed my breakfast of poached eggs and Canadian bacon on an english muffin, no time for hollandaise, this morning. I can’t wait until this summer when I can make fried green tomato BLT’s with our own bacon!

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Overall I preferred the flavor on the maple and brown sugar and the garlic and bay leaf bacon when the bacon was what you wanted to taste.The maple and brown sugar got a sticky sugary glaze on top that crisps up and caramelizes as you cook it. The hickory smoking made a big difference too.  The honey cured and basic fresh bacon are very tasty and oven roasting is quite a bit easier than smoking but I really enjoyed the flavor from the smoking. We will be makin’ bacon again soon!

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