Thursday, 5 January 2012

Bacon, In the Beginning

 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, the sky and the seas and man and beast. In his infinite wisdom he gave man the skill and the creativity to turn a small part of one of those beasts into something something surely sent by the angels themselves.

Right that's enough of religion lets get to the good stuff.

Bacon, surely one of the pig's greatest gifts, whether thrown into a sandwich as part of one of humanities great weapons in fending off the impending doom of last nights excesses or slipped into holy matrimony with the egg maybe with  Italian pecorino and pasta to create a superb Carbonara or the ultimate wake up call of a Full English Breakfast.

However our porcine friends don't give up this fine specimen of food easily. It takes time and patience to create and cure pig into bacon and that's what I'm currently attempting to do thanks to the River Cottage Meat Book I received for Christmas...

Here's what I've done so far

Dry Cure Mix
400g soft brown sugar
about 750g course salt
20 juniper berries, lightly crushed
25g course ground pepper
few bay leaves, finely chopped

Mix all the ingredients together and set aside in a non metallic container.

The recipe in the book states to use a whole pork belly, about a metre in length divided into 3 even pieces of about 30 cm or 3 fat belly pieces of a kilo each.

I went to the butcher (DO NOT BUY FROM A SUPERMARKET) and asked for a kilo of pork belly because I don't have the room to cure 3 kilos of pork. The kilo piece I got was huge however and it had the rib bones in which I didn't realise until the next day.

I nearly took it back to the butcher and asked him to take them out for me but as I'm all about trying new things, I thought I could cope with a bit of amateur butchery... it didn't turn out bad in the end and now I have lots of pork ribs to marinade and roast, result!

Now you have got your pork and cure ready, stick the pork on a board and take a good handful of the cure.
Rub gently all over the belly until lightly evenly salted.

Place in non metallic container, stack them if you have more than one piece and cover and leave for 24 hours in a cool place.

After 24 hours, drain off the water that has leeched off and rub another handful or so of cure into the bellies, alternate the bellies between top and bottom each time.

I plan to repeat the last stage every day for the next 5-6 days, I'll let you know how it turns out.

To be continued.....

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