Life's too short to eat bad food - Me

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic - Arthur C. Clarke

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Anatomy of A Burger, Part Four - The Bacon

Bacon. Pork Belly, cured and smoked. One of the most delectable flavors on the planet. I don't eat it as much as before - as I have said, Lipitor cannot do everything. But, I love it on a burger!

Using the guidance of Charcuterie, making it is relatively easy, even with a basic home grill. The only ingredient other than the belly that may not be easy to acquire is the Curing Salt. Yes, as I have mentioned before, The Sausage Maker is here in Buffalo so getting Instacure is easy. But, if you get into doing this, you'll pay the modest shipping charges and order your Curing Salt there or Butcher & Packer or someplace else. Another option is Morton's Tender Quick. Unlike the pink salts, which are interchangeable, Tender Quick is a proprietary formula including some sugar. But, 1 tablespoon per pound of meat is the accepted proportion. (They produce a guide for $5.99, but they only only ship FedEx at a cost almost twice what the pamphlet costs . . .)

As for the pork belly, well in these parts you are not likely to find it in your grocers meat case, and while our local grocery stores will special order anything for us, finding someone who knows what they are doing is often tough. The only store in which I have ever seen pork belly locally is Ni Hoowa, an oriental grocery on Sheridan Drive. However, things like that are hit and miss there, and in the weeks that formed my window for curing and smoking there was none to be had.

So I turned to one of our few remaining independent butcher shops - Valint's - the Cadillac of Meats. They didn't bat an eyelash when I asked for belly, and it arrived in a matter of days.

The preparation is simple the cure is made from Kosher Salt, Pink Salt, Maple Sugar and Maple Syrup (I prefer Grade B which can be tough to find) The latter two from Maple Glen Sugar House in Gowanda. The cure is applied liberally to all sides of the belly, after which it is placed in a bag or nonreactive container and refrigerated. Every other day it is flipped. After a week, the belly is removed, rinsed and and placed on a rack in the fridge for a day to form a pellicle. This version is hot smoked to 150ยบ (I did it over pear tree trimmings).

After smoking, I removed the skin (I cannot wait to make baked beans with a piece!). I sliced some and saved some as a slab.

Oh, it was great!!!!!!!


ntsc said...

I didn't do the hot smoke version of that yet, but plan on it in two weeks time. I will do the pepper variation at the same time.

I have done the roasted variation and it is very good.

Scotty said...

ntsc, it is great. I used pear wood trimmings for the smoke.

GG Mora said...

Ooooh. I've been itching to make my own bacon, and I'm taking delivery of a 10-lb. slab of belly this weekend. I guess the time has come.

I'm sure a guy like you has a tried and true approach to baked beans, but if you're interested, I posted on mine recently:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
- Arthur C. Clarke

Life's too short to eat bad food -