We take our inspiration where we find it. After being served lousy bacon at Cochon in New Orleans we wondered how a restaurant that made its reputation on the pig could serve such lousy pork?
We didn't wonder long. We decided to procure a pork belly and submit it to the cure for a week or so then throw it on the smoker in the back yard and see what came out of the process.
Solid country gold.
This recipe is an homage to our grandaddy Big Jim Sullivan of Knox County Kentucky. He was curing hams and bellies before our mom was even born. Harlan Sanders was one of his comrades and Big Jim was the colonel's go to man when it came time to procure country ham.
But we had to give our bacon a regional twist. We rolled into Savory Spice Shop in Austin and bought a bag of Hatch Chile powder so we could make a bacon that potentially had never been done before.
Here's the recipe:
1 pork belly, we used a 10.35lb Berkshire
1/2 c. Salt, Kosher
4 t. Salt, pink, curing
1/2 c. Sugar, turbinado
1/2 c. Chile powder, Hatch, green-divided into 1/4ths
1/4 c. Pepper, black
* Sprinkle ingredients all over belly-be thorough,start with pink salt
* Only use 1/4th of chile powder
* Put belly in fridge in large pan
* Every 24 hours flip belly over and liberally sprinkle reserved chile powder on belly
* Do this for 9 days
* Rinse seasonings off belly with cold water
* Let dry for 24 hours
* Build fire in backyard, smoke belly with favorite wood for 2 hours
* Return belly to fridge
* Let sit overnight
* At this point it's time to slice your belly, this is a crucial stage in your project. We used our electric slicer at work so the bacon looks professional. If you don't have an electric slicer use your sharpest knife, take your time and make your cuts as even as possible
Notes: We grew on on hickory smoked barbecue so that's our wood of choice. It's a strong flavor and one that might not be popular in central Texas. Use a wood that you like. Make your fire a cool one, you don't want to cook the bacon just flavor it.
When it comes time to fry your bacon go low and slow. The turbinado will make it burn easily.
If you like other flavors go for it. Common ones would be maple syrup, nutmeg, garlic, thyme....do what appeals to you so your bacon is your own.
We cut the bacon so thick 6 slices make one pound. Bacon steaks if you will.
We've been handing our bacon out these past few days to see what our friends think and reports are largely positive.
This ain't grocery store, wet cured, watery bacon.
Good luck and if you decide to adopt this project please let us know how it comes out.
Part one of the project http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/index.cfm/2011/9/25/Hatch-Chile-Hickory-Smoked-Bacon-Project-Part-One-History-Plus-Procuring-The-Pork-Belly
Part two of the project http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/index.cfm/2011/10/7/Austin-Daily-Photo-Hatch-Chile-Hickory-Smoked-Bacon-Project-Part-Two-Friday-October-8th-2011