Homemade bacon is the best. Here's how to cure bacon at home.
I demoed home-cured bacon at the Blogher 2010 after party Saturday night, with the help of the excellent students of the California Culinary Academy (thanks for the perfect set-up, chef-students!). I couldn’t do it start to finish, of course. You need to give the belly a dry rub for a week. Then you need to cook it for an hour or so. People drinking bacon martinis on a Saturday night don’t want to stand around watching pork belly cure.
I showed the steps though, cooked some up (the folks at CCA had cured it perfectly). I thought everyone was good to go.
But the next day, as I waited for the airport shuttle, a woman told me she wanted to cure bacon, even had a smoker (nice but not essential). She said, “But I’m afraid.”
“Well, didn’t you see my demo, didn’t you see how easy it was, didn’t it put you at ease?”
“I had to go to the bathroom," she explained. "There was a line.”
So for you, whose name I didn’t get, and for all those others at the excellent BlogHer event who would like specifics, and for anyone for whom bacon seems intriguing but just out of reach, here is a concise primer, recipe, and step-by-step for curing your own bacon:
- 4 tbsp coarse kosher salt (I like Morton or Diamond Crystal)
- 2 tsp pink curing salt (order from butcherpacker.com, sold under the name DQ Curing salt)
- 4 tbsp coarsely ground pepper
- 4 bay leaves crumbled
- 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- ¼ cup brown sugar or honey or maple syrup
- 5 garlic cloves smashed with the flat side of a chef’s knife
- 2 tbsp juniper berries, lightly crushed (optional)
- 5-10 sprigs thyme (optional)
- 5 lbs pork belly
- Mix the salt and spices together in a bowl.
- Combine all the ingredients except the pork belly in a 2-gallon zip-top bag. Shake the bag to distribute the ingredients. Put your belly in the zip-top bag (you could also do this in a plastic container, or on a sheet tray with plastic wrap. Rub the salt and spice mixture all over the belly. Close the bag refrigerator it for seven days. Redistribute the seasoning twice or more throughout the week.
- After seven days, take it out of the fridge, rinse off all the seasonings under cold water and pat it dry.
- Cook the belly in a 300˚F oven to an internal temperature of 150˚F, about 40 minutes.
- Let it cool and refrigerate it until you’re ready to cook slice and cook. But I know. You won’t be able to wait. So cut off a piece and cook it. Taste it, savor it. Congratulations! It’s bacon!
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