Bacon is everywhere. Its on doughnuts, ice cream, chocolate bars, even candles and soap. To each their own, but I just want delicious, smoky, crispy bacon on a BLT or with oysters, something savory, salty and delicious. One of the problems I’ve found with bacon from the grocery store is that it tends to be sliced too thin, even the “thick” bacon from fancy grocery stores is fairly thin which is fine for a sandwich but for some of the recipes I want to try I need a big hunk of bacon. Another problem is that I have not been happy with the taste of store bought bacon . It just ain’t right.
I decided that I’d make my own bacon. First decision, to nitrite or not nitrite. Nitrites (also referred to as pink salt or curing salt) in combination with kosher salt are added to cured and smoked products to inhibit the growth of bacteria. There were several recipes I found that used only kosher salt to treat bacon but I don’t feel that is sufficient. The pork belly that I was turning into bacon would sit in my refrigerator for a week and then be smoked at a low temperature for a few hours and that is the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. Also, the nitrites give bacon that special bacony good taste.
Get it started. I ordered the pink curing salt and some cane syrup from Amazon and received it within a few days. Then I visited Assi, an international market, to find my pork belly. They had some pieces in the meat case but they were a bit too small, about 2 pounds each, I was looking for a large piece that was a least 5 pounds. I asked the ladies that were packaging sausages behind the counter if they had any larger pieces of pork belly. There was a bit of confusion, a language barrier and some strange looks but finally they called the butcher over and he brought out a huge 12 and a half pound pork belly.
Stay tuned. I’ll fill you in on how I got from belly to yummy, yummy bacon in a future post.