Making Bacon at Home

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This guest blog post comes to us from Rachael Narins of Chicks with Knives , a supper club in L.A.  Rachael and partner Suzanne Griswold serve “S.O.L.E. food,” what they call food that is sustainable, organic, local and/or ethical.  Rachael is famous for making her ingredients from scratch.  Some of the produce she grows in her own garden.  Here she demonstrates how to make bacon.

Pink Salt and Bacon

Making bacon is simple to do at home. Even if you don’t have a smoker.  The only specialty ingredient you need is pink salt. We got ours at Surfas in Culver City, but you can order it online, too.

We started with about 2 pounds of skin-on pork belly from McCalls Meat and Fish Company Los Feliz. (We have also seen it at the HK Market on Western. It’s a lot cheaper there.) Prepping it took about 10 minutes.  After 7 days, the belly was ready to be rinsed, smoked (or roasted) and eaten.

We cut it in to lardons and served it with sugar-cured egg yolks, anchovy aioli and frisee with a garlic-chive and hot bacon dressing. That was pretty spectacular. It’s good just in slices for breakfast too.

(Recipe loosely adapted from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Bryan Polcyn)

2 lb slab pork belly, with skin
2 cups Kosher salt
Scant 1/4 cup white sugar
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tsp pink salt
2 tsps coarse ground pepper
2 each fresh bay leaves, torn

Mix together the salt, sugars, pink salt pepper and bay leaves. Coat the pork belly evenly with the salt/sugar mixture, press in. You won’t need all of it.

Place the pork belly in a large Ziploc bag. Seal and place the bag in a square baking dish (it should just fit. We used a lasagna-style pan and put a box of butter next to it to take up the extra space.) The bacon will release a lot of liquid, you want it to stay submerged.

Let cure for 7 days, turning the bag over every day. When cured, it should feel firm to the touch.

When completely firm, remove from the brine and rinse. Trim off the skin.

Roast at 200F, on a rack, for 2 hours. Cool to room temperature. You now have cured bacon. Fry a bit up and taste it.

If you think it’s too salty, you can blanch the bacon in boiling water for 5 minutes to remove a bit of the salt. We do this no matter what, so it will fry up crisper, but its not necessary.

Bacon will keep for up to a week, or you can freeze it for a few months.