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Makin’ Bacon

No, seriously.  I’m makin’ bacon.

I’ve had an odd addiction lately to Diners, Drive Ins and Dives on the Food Network.  Recently they featured a place that makes its own bacon, and it looked a) awesome and b) not too hard.

Those that know me also understand that I live under the constant assumption that the zombie apocalypse will begin any day now. If I survive the initial outbreak, I want to be able to provide for myself – that includes being able to enjoy bacon.  If I don’t survive, at least I will be a tasty salty snack for whoever gnaws on my skull.

Anyhoo, so I decided to give making bacon a whirl.

Here is the six pound pork belly I picked up at The Organic Butcher of McLean.

This shows the pork belly with the skin on.  I asked for it that way because I had two different curing recipes – one that required the skin and one that didn’t.  I figured I could easily take it off if I decided to use the other recipe.

Unfortunately, I forgot that my really good knife is packed with all of my hunting gear in New Mexico, so I had to use one of our cheap kitchen knives to skin it. That wasn’t as fun as I would have liked.  Once I got it done, though, I was on my way to the oh so sweet world of homemade bacon.

This is what the pork belly loked like sans the skin.

As I mentioned, I had found a couple of recipes online, one which required curing salt and one that didn’t. So I started reading up on curing salt. Two things I read convinced me to try the recipe that required it.

The first is that the curing salt contributes to the pink color and unique bacon taste.  The recipe noted that without it your bacon will taste like pleasantly seasoned pork ribs, but not really like bacon.

The second is that the curing salt tends to tame nasty things like botulism that can otherwise ruin the fun of a good bacon sandwich.  Since I prefer my deadly diseases on the side, I sprung for the curing salt #1 and followed Michael Ruhlman’s recipe for the curing rub.

I have completed the rub stage of the preparations, and the bacon is now curing away in my fridge.  Here’s what it looked like in the bag.

I have to flip the bag over every other day, rerub the belly in three and a half days, and in a week my bacon will be ready to cook/slice and eat.

I’ll keep you posted on the progress.

Written by Michael Turk