Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bacon

I got a charcuterie cookbook for Christmas (called Charcuterie) so I decided to make bacon. What, you may ask, is charcuterie? It is the craft of curing meat through salting, smoking, and drying. The recipe for bacon looked easy enough. The most difficult part seemed like it would be finding the different ingredients. I was going to need to find some pork belly, some kosher salt, and curing salt. Luckily, living in Chicago, the population is high enough that stores can carry specialty materials. The kosher salt was easy, the curing salt I found in The Spice House, and the pork belly I found in a meat packing house in the warehouse district which is where restaurants get their meats and vegetables. The packing house was enormous, the storage area was refrigerated, and the bellies were in piles. I picked a relatively small one because this was going to be my first try. It ended up being six pounds. The recipe called for a belly of about three to five pounds so I cut the one I bought in half. I didn't notice it nor did I think about it when I bought it but when I was cutting the belly in half, the fact that it came from an animal became more real to me because the belly had nipples. I salted half of the belly and froze the other half for use later. I bagged it and threw it in the refrigerator for a week flipping it every other day. I was surprised at how much liquid it lost. After the week was up, I took it out, rinsed it, and cooked it at a low heat for about two hours. If I had had a smoker this is where I would have used it. I then cut the skin off and had to fry a little up immediately. It was great! While most American bacon is smoked, Canadian bacon is not so this tasted like Canadian bacon. I will have to explore more of the recipes in the cookbook. It is very cool to create something like this on your own and have it turn out well. I do need a smoker though.

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