Nothing tastes like home cured bacon. This is ALWAYS back bacon – nothing against streaky bacon, but if I’m curing belly, it’s got to become pancetta, (I’ll link to a post next time I do some and you’ll see why).
A lovely organic pork loin is going to be spectacular, but to be honest I get great results from a loin of pork from the supermarket, which seems to be half price in Tesco’s on a fairly regular basis. I like to cut and cure it in 1kg batches.
The Bacon Cure:
No point in mucking about building your own cure from Prague Powder and fine salt, just get yourself a bag of pre-mixed cure – it’s the same, it’s mixed properly and it cuts out a lot of sodding about with weighing stuff.
I start off with 5% of meat weight of Weschenfelder’s Organic Bacon Cure, which was recommended to me by Graham of Native Breeds, and award winning charcuterie. If it’s good enough for him, its good enough for me.
Rub this all over the meat, about 80% on the flesh and 20% on the fatty side and put the meat into a ziplock bag. Then add some flavourings, these measurements are per kilo of meat.
- 5g of crushed juniper berries
- 5g of crushed fennel seeds
- 5g of fresh, finely chopped rosemary
- 2 tblsp of black treacle
Add the dry ingredients first and spread them out in the bag, then add the treacle (easier if you warm the spoon in boiling water first). Massage it all in as best you can, seal the bag and put it in the fridge.
A 1kg loin will take 7 or 8 days to cure. You’ll probably see a fair bit of water come out into the bag over that time. Turn it every day so that the treacly water imparts a lovely dark colour all over the soon-to-be bacon.
hen it’s ready, pour away the water and wash the bacon under the cold tap to get all the debris and sally cure off the surface, then pat it dry and put it back in the fridge, uncovered, for a few days to dry out a bit more. It’s then ready to eat – but really, you’re gonna want to cold smoke these…
Put the bacon on the bottom shelf of the smoker, fat side up and straight out o the fridge (I read somewhere that the cold helps attract more smoke). To be honest I’m yet to be fully convinced that the Weber is better than the DIY smoker for a cold smoke, I’m pretty sure stuff takes longer to smoke, (maybe the metal casing attracts more of the smoke than the wooden box?) but a full burn on the Pro-Q seemed to elicit a good strong flavour -I actually loaded it with first half apple and second half alder last time, which was great.
Stick in in another ziplock and leave it to mellow in the fridge for at least a week, probably two if you use a stronger wood like oak or hickory.