There's a lot of upstart pork curing outfits in Austin Texas these days and we've tried just about all of them. Results ranged from very good [ Peach Creek ] to pitiful [ the guy is so nice and so widely acclaimed we just can't break the news to him in public ].
So we decided to get in on the action last month, buy a big, fat pork belly and enter the fray with all these young bucks.
We knocked it out of the park. The ten or so people we ran the samples by had some interesting things to say about our effort.
"I actually wet myself when I tried it." cocktail waitress at a chef buddy's restaurant.
"That bacon changed my life." local barista.
"You can do me if you'll give me a half pound of that stuff". One of the beefiest hoss cat chefs in town and bearded to boot.
"Thine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the lord-thru your bacon. Best I ever had." manager at local burger joint.
"Second best bacon I ever had." owner of what's widely regarded as the number one cured meat, small op, in Austin.
We documented this bacon project fairly thoroughly here http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/index.cfm/2011/10/9
and would love to hear from you if you attempted the project.
But we are highly critical of our efforts, no matter how well they are received, so we wanted to improve on batch #1. This time we decided instead of making a Hatch Chile Bacon we'd look toward Turkey for inspiration.
Turkish bacon? Well, our dear friend the Turk eats the Hell out of the stuff and she's Muslim to boot. Who can blame her when it tastes so damn good.
Our travels through the great nation of Turkey found a food culture beyond compare. These folks like to eat and they like to eat well. So here's our homage to our Turkish brethren.
1 pork belly, we used an 11.80 lb Berkshire
1/2 c. Salt, Kosher
4 t. Salt, pink, curing
1/2 c. Za'atar, an insanely delicious Turkish seasoning blend. We bought ours at Savory Spice shop on w. 6th st. near downtown Austin.
* Sprinkle ingredients all over belly-be thorough,start with pink salt
* Put belly in fridge in large pan
* Every 24 hours flip belly over
* 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 4 hours
* Return belly to fridge
* Let sit overnight
Now it's time to slice your bacon. Hopefully you have access to an electric slicing machine. We used the one at work so it came out nice and slick looking. If you don't have access, try to barter with a local deli, offer them some homemade bacon if they'll slice it for you.
A lot of commercial bacon comes 20 strips to the pound.
We slice ours at 6 per pound so it's really more like bacon steaks.
That's how our granddaddy did it so to us it's the only way.
Our second effort was a rousing success. We haven't farmed it out yet to garner responses but the view from our home skillet is that it's quite good. The absence of turbinado makes the bacon easier to cook without burning. The za'atar adds a distinct eastern flavor. If you fancy Turkish or Lebanese food we predict that you will love this bacon.
If you try this project out please report back.