Cook the Book: How to Cure Your Own Bacon

Bacon, delicious, crisp, fatty, chewy bacon. Aside from a handful of vegetarians, I have never encountered someone who didn't like bacon. It seems like no matter what time of day it is, there's always a way to incorporate bacon into your meal. Frying up some bacon for breakfast is de rigueur, a BLT makes for a classic lunch, and, of course, bacon cupcakes serve as dessert. Cooking with bacon isn't difficult, but what about curing bacon at home?

According to Eugenia Bone, making bacon at home is relatively easy. In her new book, Well-Preserved, she demystifies the curing process. As it turns out, there is very little to making bacon beyond a spice rub, a lengthy rest in the fridge, and a slow roast in the oven. Besides the bragging rights that making bacon at home will afford you, this recipe is free of nasty nitrates that store-bought bacon often has.

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Cook the Book: How to Cure Your Own Bacon

About This Recipe

Yield:about 2 1/2 pounds

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds slab pork belly, skin on (see note)
  • 3 tablespoons pickling or curing salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seed
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Procedures

  1. 1

    Wash and dry the meat. Place it on a large sheet of wax paper.

  2. 2

  3. 3

  4. 4

    After the 7 days are up, remove the pork belly, wash it, and dry it very well. Place the meat in a baking dish and cover with plastic wrap or foil.

  5. 5

    Refrigerate for 24 hours. This allows the salt to distribute evenly throughout the meat.

  6. 6

  7. 7

    When the meat is cool enough to handle, cut off the rind. Dry the meat very well and wrap in wax paper before placing in a bag in the refrigerator, where it will keep for about 2 weeks.

  8. 8

  9. 9

    Note: Some butchers will sell you a pork belly that has been folded. This does not affect the flavor, but the crease in the rind can cause the bacon to buckle. To avoid this, weight the bacon down during the 7-day curing process. Place the bagged meat in a baking pan and place a smaller baking pan on top, then load on the weight. I use a brick. Every time you turn over the meat, replace the weight.

  10. 10
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