January bacon

Time for another round of bacon.

I had a small epiphany on my personal process of curing bacon. I’ve been pretty consistently happy with the results, but it’s only recently that I’ve also been happy with my process. It always seemed to take longer than I expected, and by the time I got it into the fridge I’d feel more drained than the simple recipe I use suggested I should be. Of course it took me multiple iterations to notice that I wasn’t making one simple recipe: I was making three or so simple recipes (because why use one cure when there’s an opportunity to try three!), and those only after working out how to slice up the belly into appropriate portions. So suddenly, it’s three or four or five simple recipes, and there’s natural breaks and replanning and clean-ups, and the joy of bacon-making multiplies. Mechanics of curing meat, zen of curing meat.

But onward to this month’s batches.

This belly had sharper difference between its thick and thin parts than usual, so I cut it up to separate them for more even curing. The yield was one thin square about the size of a gallon ziplock, one think square about the same size, two thin strips, two thick strips: so four batches.

Batches 1 and 2 — pancetta flavors

Sort of. Jill is avoiding juniper berries and nutmeg for the next few months, so this is a variation on the usual proportions for pancetta flavors. As usual, reader, scale these proportions to your belly’s mass.

  • 1,733g pork belly
  • 43g cure
  • 21g fresh ground black pepper
  • 16g brown sugar
  • 24g minced garlic
  • 4 bay leaves, chopped up
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3g ground cinnamon
  • 3.5g ground cloves

Bag pork, distribute cure, distribute other ingredients (I’ve described the technique in an earlier post).

Batch 3 — ginger apple

This is a new one. First, make this paste:

  • 326g apples, roughly chopped
  • 12g dried ginger powder
  • 6g dried cinnamon
  • 44g honey
  • 3.5g ground cloveswater

Add the measured ingredients to a food processor or blender and grind to a paste, adding water as needed.

  • 1,240g pork belly
  • 171g apple paste
  • 31g cure
  • Additional paste

Use the first portion of paste as a marinade for several days (I’ll update when I’ve decided how long). Then rinse and dry the pork, rebag, distribute cure, and distribute remaining paste.

Batch 4 — hot bacon

In October I was surprised at how little heat could arise from a certain amount of pepper. This month, perhaps I’ll be surprised at how hot papper can make bacon.

  • 1,075g pork belly
  • 32g cure
  • 8g cayenne pepper
  • 15g Sichuan peppercorns
  • 8g red pepper flakes
  • 18g black peppercorns
  • 22g brown sugar

That’s alot of red pepper.

Grind the peppercorns and flakes. Bag the meat, distribute cure, distribute other ingredients.

Incidentally, both of the larger squares of bacon got the pancetta flavors; the thinner strips are in the apple paste; and the thicker strips are red with pepper. The thin square should be ready first – more details in a week or so!

Update (Jan. 25). That would be six days in the ginger-apple paste marinade — longer than I’d expected, but things got hectic. The thin pancetta flavors slab is out of the cure; in a couple of days the other slab and the pepper will be ready to smoke.

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