Last week, I showed y’all how I like to make bacon.
This week, I devoured the bacon.
Okay, I didn’t eat all of it, but it turned out so, so good.
I didn’t get to take many pictures because frankly, my camera sucks hard. But I will explain the rest of the process so you can hopefully, at some point, cure and cook your own bacon.
When the seventh day of your cure has come, take your bellies out of the refrigerator and check for firmness to see how well they’ve cured. If they’re still too soft, let them go another day or two. Seven days should be long enough; you don’t want your bacon to turn out too salty.
Take the bellies out of their bags and rinse them well. Get off any excess garlic, bay leaf and peppercorn. Once they are rinsed you can go about cooking them a few ways. Since I live in a tiny apartment with a strict rule against charcoal and smoke, I’m limited to cooking in the oven. I actually like the oven because it helps it to maintain that good porky flavor. But, as we all know, smoke can make things taste so much better. Whether it’s hickory or pecan or apple wood, smoke them bad boys! Temperature is important! You really don’t want the smoke (or oven) to be above 200˚ degrees. You’re aiming for 160-200˚. In your smoker or oven, place the bellies above the smoke, or in the center rack and cook for a couple of hours (or until the internal temp of the belly is 150-160˚).
Once your belly is smoked and/or cooked to the proper temperature, take em’ out to cool. While they’re still hot, it’s a good time to cut away the skin. Make sure you have a sharp knife to do this part or it could get pretty messy. Also, feel free to slice off a little piece at the end and try. It’ll smell too good, anyways. I shouldn’t have to tell you to do that.
The results were really, really good. My savory cure of bay leaf, peppercorn and garlic was lovely. My favorite of the two had to be the sweet. I mean, maple syrup cured bacon? It’s hard to mess that up. You can literally take any road when it comes to curing bacon. It is a decently forgiving piece of meat.
Chill them in your refrigerator and slice as needed. I would recommend freezing the bacon and slicing it while it’s frozen. Unless you have a deli slicer, this may be the easiest way for you to go about doing it. Once you’ve sliced off what you need, put it back in the freezer so it can last as long as possible.
A little tip on cooking bacon….DON’T CROWD THE PAN! This goes for a lot of cooking. The more the bacon can make contact with the hot surface, the better your bacon will cook. Meaning, you’ll get that nice crispy/chewy combo – oh gah, there’s nothing better. Also, keep the fat in the pan when adding more bacon. It helps the bacon to cook more evenly. I mean, you’re going to be letting it drain on paper towels anyways.
Save your rendered bacon fat! That stuff is gold! (Though it’s not good enough to bring down the FED..)
Rendered bacon fat can be used as a great start for sautéing veg for soups, stews and rice dishes. If you’re feeling too healthy…you can always fry an egg in bacon fat. I know, terrible.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little bit. I know it’s probably boring to most of the world, but I think it’s important to know where things come from. And as always, the closer the source, the better.
Thanks for reading!
Happy cooking. Happy eating.