So it’s now been a week, and the bacon is done curing. I rinsed off all the seasonings (at least, all the seasonings that weren’t buried in the fat, and popped the belly in the oven for 90 minutes at 200 degrees. This is the result (though it has been cut in half to make slicing easier).
To be honest, I was a little afraid of this batch. Like much of the mid-Atlantic, we lost power about half way through the curing process. Our power was out for about 24 hours on one of the hottest weekends in DC. Temperatures outside were around 100 (110 if you buy the ‘heat index’ idea).
I had concerns that the loss of power would result in the loss of the pork belly (along with mist everything else in the fridge.) A quick chat with the butcher that sold me the belly reassured me, however. We both felt that since the curing process is essentially cooking the belly, the loss of power wouldn’t impact it the way it would have any other raw cut of meat.
I decided to stay the course, keep the curing bacon, and see how it all turned out.
I’m glad I did.
After I took the bacon from the oven, and sliced it in two, I cut a nice thick slice – and a few thinner slices) off one side. Grabbing a small skillet, I fried them up. The thicker slices I cooked a little longer, mostly because I like my bacon on the fine edge between well done and burnt – super crispy.
The thinner slices I cooked a little less. The results were better looking that the images here might indicate.
I had skipped the maple syrup the recipe suggested so I wasn’t going to get the offsetting sweetness to go with the salt. While I figured that might make the bacon more salty, I also didn’t want the maple to get in the way of the bacon taste. It was a bet that paid off.
The bacon cooks nice. It leaves a lot more oil in the pan that store bought bacon, and that’s ok with me. The extra oil contributes to the crispiness when it cooks up – searing the fat nicely. It’s definitely more salty than store bought bacon, and that’s ok, too.
I actually bought a second belly and cured it with the maple syrup. I started that belly on Sunday – after we got power back – so it should be ready for tasting this weekend.
Based on the outstanding cook and taste qualities of the bacon I’ve tasted so far, I can safely say I may be tempted to never by from the store again.
Finally, a couple of quick notes for anyone that may be tempted to give home curing a go.
- I bought my belly at the Organic Butcher of McLean. It wasn’t cheap, but my local grocery store doesn’t sell belly. I did, however, find that Whole Foods sells belly for considerably less.
- The curing recipe I used for this batch and the other came from Michael Ruhlman’s excellent post, but I have also found a bunch of other cure recipes and prepared cures. I am particularly interested in trying this cajun cure.