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Home Curing Bacon? Anyone?

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  • Home Curing Bacon? Anyone?

    I was just reading the thread on bacon-fat mayo (awesome idea, by the way) and it reminded me that I really want to try home-curing my own bacon. I have cured and smoked fish before, but always wanted to try bacon and ham, mainly because I am horrified by the horrible things in store-bought bacon and smallgoods in general. There is a butcher/deli near my house that does a lot of its own stuff, and their stuff is delish (red-gum smoked bacon or raw French style ham off the bone mmmmmm) but they still use the sulfur (I think it's sulfur) to keep it pink and cherub-cheek rosy. I don't care if my bacon and ham is grey - as long as it tastes good.
    Has anyone cured meat without all the additives for aesthetics? I mean salt rub or brine and possible smoking and nothing else?
    I also tried home-cured pastrami (brined beef that was smoked) and it was goodo, but again, used a commercial cure 'kit', so wasn't quite what I was after.
    I'm the sort of dude who likes to brain-tan hides and make jerky by my camp-fire (although I do admit to using my dehydrator a fair bit for jerky, 'cause I eat a LOT of it, but I often over-dry it that way...) so kits and commercial rubs just aren't cool, I reckon.
    Cheers
    LC

  • #2
    When I stopped being a veggie I realised I needed to learn how to cook meat - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's MEAT book is the best book on the topic. It covers everything from brawn to bacon to, well, EVERYTHING. It's outstanding.
    I like badgers, books and booze, more or less in that order.

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    • #3
      Cheers mate. I loved hugh's show when I caught it, so I bet his book is good. Booktopia here I come...

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      • #4
        prepare to have your mind blown! That book is the business. You might also enjoy the River Cottage Cookbook, but the River Cottage Year is a little weaker particularly when you are not in the UK as it focuses on seasonal eating/growing and it doesn't really map to Southern Hemisphere life!
        I like badgers, books and booze, more or less in that order.

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        • #5
          Ordered HFW's meat book. Got it for $45 in hardcover. It was $80! Shiiiiiiite!
          In the meantime, I got me a nice pork belly this morning. I am gonna bite the bullet and follow some vague directions I found online and in John Seymour's self-sufficiency book, and see how I go. If I don't post again, I have died from food-poisoning.
          I also found pre-sliced, pasture-fed rare roast beef in the Safeway deli this morning. It's good, if not a bit bland. I stuffed an omelette with it for a late breakfast, and that made it better.

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          • #6
            No!!! use this recipe: Iron Age Pork recipes - Roasted Pork Belly with Fennel Seeds
            best. ever. and I don't even like fennel.
            I like badgers, books and booze, more or less in that order.

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            • #7
              That looks pretty damn tasty, but alas, I have already started to brine it. I'm gonna knock a quick cold smoker up and see how that goes, too, once its brined up. I am gonna try smoking with willow, cause I have a heap of shavings all over the shed floor, and I watched a doco where some dudes used willow to smoke meat. I've used red gum and apple for wild trout and store-bought salmon in the past, but it needs to be really dry, IMO, or its too resinous. I'll post how I go when its ready to smoke. I'll do some pics, too.

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              • #8
                I realised afterwards that you meant to make bacon - obvs given the thread and all - but hot damn, we'd have trouble 'sacrificing' a good belly to make bacon. Pork belly, crackling... heaven. Greasy, salty goodness indeed.
                I like badgers, books and booze, more or less in that order.

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                • #9
                  Yep, cut into little cubes and dipped in a nice sweet salty sauce. Heaven!

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                  • #10
                    My latest batch of bacon I smoked with apple and it was just freaking fabulous. I never use the pink salt to cure just good old sea salt, maple syrup and red pepper chilli flakes.
                    You are what you eat, so only eat the best!

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by gregpoole View Post
                      My latest batch of bacon I smoked with apple and it was just freaking fabulous. I never use the pink salt to cure just good old sea salt, maple syrup and red pepper chilli flakes.
                      Nice one. That's what I like to hear. What cut do you use? Are you using a dry(-ish, I know it has the maple in it) rub, or a wet brine? Also, have you tried willow to smoke it, and how's the colour without the saltpetre?
                      Cheers bud
                      LC

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                      • #12
                        It's a rub, depends on the size of the pork belly, my last batch was a 14 lb one.....1/2 cup sea salt, 1/2 cup maple syrup,2 tbl of red pepper chilli flakes.
                        Spread mixture over pork belly that was cut into pcs that fit in large ziplock freezer bags, get most of the air out of the bag place in the fridge, each day flip Yhe bags over and do this for a week. At this time the bacon is done, you can then rinse of the pcs under cold water then towel dry and place on racks in put in the fridge over night. The next day fire up the smoker and smoke with your choice of wood. Usually do mine in the smoker for about 6 to 7 hours.

                        No have not tried willow yet.
                        You are what you eat, so only eat the best!

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                        • #13
                          Thanks greg! The bags are a good idea. I did the whole belly in a wet brine. I'll try your rub next time, and portion it out.
                          I'll post how willow goes. I would have smoked for longer too, not because I know better, because I would have been guessing! I'll err on the side of caution.

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                          • #14
                            I also forgot to mention that when I rinse off the bacon I slice off a couple of pcs then fry them to taste how much of a salty flavor there is if to salty I soak in clod water for 1 to 2 hours then retest of salty flavor.
                            They say you only have to smoke for 4 hours but I like a little more smokey flavor.
                            Yes I would like to know how the willow goes.
                            You are what you eat, so only eat the best!

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by gregpoole View Post
                              I also forgot to mention that when I rinse off the bacon I slice off a couple of pcs then fry them to taste how much of a salty flavor there is if to salty I soak in clod water for 1 to 2 hours then retest of salty flavor.
                              They say you only have to smoke for 4 hours but I like a little more smokey flavor.
                              Yes I would like to know how the willow goes.
                              Cool as. It seems a lot less fiddly than I've made this batch!
                              I'll let you know what the willow smoked bacon is like, for sure.

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