I’ve found some great purveyors but none holds a candle to Henry Fudge, the best pork producer in Alabama.
Fudge hit my radar when a fellow chef whom I admire, Frank Stitt of Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham, mentioned that he was using the old farmer’s pork in his high dollar, fine dining restaurant.
Business has carried me through Alabama over the past few months and I’ve managed to block out some time so I could visit Fudge, pick up some hog meat, and share conversation with one of the last ‘old timey hog men’
Mr Fudge is a walking, talking encyclopedia who has given his life to selective breeding of the Duroc strain of hog. My grandfather did the exact same thing in Kentucky for nearly 80 years. The Duroc breed grows big and is hardy enough to survive the (then) brutal Appalachian winters.
They also provide some of the best tasting meat of all breeds.
Last month I stopped in Madison, Alabama (on appointment) and scored a big pork belly that has now been succesfully converted into bacon.
Here’s how I did it:How To Cure A Henry Fudge Duroc Pork Belly
1 belly, pork, Duroc breed (Fudge had not weighed the belly and since I was traveling I did not have my scales, this marks the first time I ‘winged’ it on my curing measurements, the amounts are a little heavy but this was a large belly and I erred on the side of caution)
1/2 c. Salt, Kosher
4 t. Salt, pink, curing
* Combine Kosher salt and sodium nitrite mixing well
* Sprinkle ingredients thoroughly over both sides of belly
* Put belly in fridge in large pan
* Every 24 hours flip belly over
* Do this for 12 days
* Rinse cure off belly with cold running water for two minutes
* Return to fridge, let rest for 4 days, flipping every 24 hours
* Build fire in smoker, smoke belly with pecan or other favorite wood for two-four hours (I borrowed a smoker and the lender gave me a few chunks of cherrywood to use and it was sensational, if you can find cherry I highly recommend it)
* Chill and slice
This was the second belly I’ve cured from Fudge Farms and it is the second best belly I’ve ever turned into bacon in my life. Fudge’s first belly being my all-time favorite.
Mr Fudge does not mail order but if you find yourself in north Alabama, near Huntsville you may be able to contact the old farmer and coax him into selling you the best pork I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.
I don’t put any sugar in my cure
Henry Fudge pork has a sweet flavor all on its own
I had begun to cleave the belly, due to space constraints in the fridge, when I remembered that I needed to take a picture, hence the valley in the flesh
The belly was bought in Alabama, cured and smoked in Kentucky, and driven to New Orleans where it was sliced
We try our best to honor each hog that we are party to eating
Here’s our charcuterie archive