bacon or pancetta drying

This week's bacon, waiting to be smoked, photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

I’ve been slammed this week, and now have to travel, if I can get out in this blizzard. But last week I put a whole pork belly on the cure. I’d given it a sweet cure, brown sugar, maple syrup and black pepper, because I wanted to smoke it rather than make pancetta. It was done yesterday but I had no time to smoke it.  Our lives get busy, we don’t have time to finish something, sometimes we’re too tired or the kids have a snow day. What’s so great about charcuterie, as with this bacon, is its preserved.  There’s no hurry. I’ll smoke it next week, and until then, it’s going to sit out, somewhere out of the way. The salt cure has taken care of the bacteria. Its drying will prevent new spoilage bacteria from forming. It’s a friend. It will wait for me.

Curing it was easy because I had plenty of basic dry cure on hand, recipe below. I used 5% of the weight of the belly, put it in a big 2 gallon zip-top bag, threw in a couple handfuls of brown sugar and maple syrup, and tons of black pepper roughly cracked in a mortar, and refrigerated it for a week, flipping it regularly. My friend Marlene likes to put garlic and Dijon in her cure. You can use garlic, thyme, pepper and juniper berries for pancetta.

I took it out of the bag, gave it a good rinse. For a farewell lunch for Donna, I cut off two slabs for lardons even though it wasn’t smoked or dried, used them and thier rendered fat on frissee with some red wine vinegar, put a poached egg on top, and it was beautiful.  Next week I’ll smoke it. When I have time.

Basic Dry Cure, from Charcuterie

  • 1 pound/450 grams kosher salt
  • 8 ounces/225 grams sugar
  • 2 ounces/50 grams pink salt
  1. Combine, mix and store in an air tight container indefinitely.

If you liked this post on basic dry cure, check out these other posts:

Join the meat fun with monthly charcuterie challenges at Charcutepalooza

Candied Bacon Ice Cream recipe from David Lebovitz

Bourbon Bacon Jam from Evil Shenanigans.  Sounds odd, but it’s good.

Read my post on Home Made Bacon

© 2011 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2011 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved.