Posted September 11, 2014
As true pork lovers, we humbly believe that bacon is just about as good as it gets. It’s savory, crispy and about as close to perfection as food can be. But even near-perfection can occasionally, magically be improved upon. That, my friends, is what happens with home-cured bacon. What makes home-cured bacon so heavenly? First of all, it’s fresher. This is something you’ve made right in your own kitchen; no more plastic-wrapped grocery store bacon for you. And since everyone likes their bacon just a bit different – crispy and thin vs. thick and fatty – home-curing lets you make it exactly the way you want. And when you home-cure Tender Belly pork belly, you’re using the tastiest, freshest pork available. Because naturally raised, vegetarian-fed pigs make the most delicious bacon you’ll ever taste. Ready to get curing? Here’s what you’ll need: Ingredients 2.5 to 3 pounds of Tender Belly pork belly ½ cup sugar 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses 2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more as needed 1 teaspoon curing salt 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper Optional: Play around with the flavor by adding ¼ cup maple syrup and/or honey, a couple diced garlic cloves, a spicy meat rub – or whatever your heart desires. Once you’ve mastered the basic bacon recipe, you’ll probably be inspired to take it new places with every batch. Directions 1. Rinse your pork belly and pat it dry. 2. In a mixing bowl, mix your sugar, molasses, salts and pepper. (Add your other optional ingredients here as well, if you’re using them.) 3. Thoroughly rub each piece of pork belly with your seasoning mixture. Make sure every inch is nice and covered. 4. Place the pork belly in a plastic bag, seal it and lay it flat in the fridge for seven (impatient) days. If possible, flip the bag daily to keep the juices evenly distributed. 5. And on the seventh day…take a look at your bacon. Is it firm to the touch? Fully cured bacon feels a lot like a cooked steak. If not, add a few pinches of extra salt, massage the meat again and give it another day or two in the fridge. 6. Once your bacon is fully cured, take it out of the bag, rinse it and pat it dry. 7. Finally, toss your bacon on the grill, fatty side up. This is another slow process: The meat will slowly smoke at a low temp for about 4 hours, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees F. (If your patience is running thin, feel free to finish the bacon in a 200-degree F oven. That will let you cut your smoking time in half.) 8. Slice your bacon as thin or thick as you’d like. When you’re ready to cook it, fry it up, drain on paper towels and chow down. If you have extra (who ever has extra bacon?), you can store it in large chunks or pre-sliced in a freezer storage bag. Let us know how your first home-curing experience goes! Did you add any special ingredients? What would you do differently next time?