Monday, October 25, 2010

Homemade Bacon!

After reading another post online about homemade bacon, I knew I had to give it a spin. After a quick trip to the local butcher shop, I came home with 3 1/4 pounds of pork belly, not prettiest cut of meat by any means...

Apparently all there is to do is load it up with kosher salt and some spices. I went with black pepper corns and garlic, as I read it would give the bacon a more "savory" flavor. The reason it's sitting in a drying rack is because as the salt draws out the moisture, it will begin to drip delicious pork juice, mmmmmm, and at the low low price of $4, it was perfect for the job!

And that's it! I popped that bad boy in the fridge and added some more salt each day. I had taken pictures each day to show it's progress, but the meat itself really didn't change at all. So five days later, I ended up with a nice chunk of cured pork belly!

Now you might be thinking, hmmmm, that darkened up a bit...That's exactly what I thought too, and after poking around a bit and finding that some of the thinner areas were a little tough, I made a realization. I almost made beef jerky instead of bacon. Looking back I'm pretty confident that I was a bit heavy on the salt following the initial application. This pulled TOO much moisture out, and caused the meat to somewhat shrivel and dry. But no worries, this only applied to about 35-40 % of the meat.

Next was to smoke the cured belly for about 3-4 hours. Slight problem, I don't own a smoker, but who cares, I'll just broil it! After a solid 3 hours on a low heat in the oven, I pulled it out and carved off the layer of skin, and behold, bacon!

I sliced it up into the thinnest slices I could manage, which was not thin at all in terms of bacon... (The tiny strips on the left are the result of the over salting)

A sample strip on the skillet...

So how'd it taste? Great! But there was a slight problem...Much like the salt, I had gone overboard on the seasoning, which the fatty parts of the bacon really soaked up. So if you got a leaner slice (lol lean slice of bacon, yeah...), it was pretty awesome, but the fatty bits had a real punch of pepper.

Overall, I'm glad I undertook the task, but all in all I can really only call this a moderate success due to my spice overkill. But hey, now I've got 3 pounds of homemade, sometimes super peppery bacon :)

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