This bacon project has been fulfilling in many ways. We love nothing more than glacially paced tasks that slowly evolve over the course of days if not weeks. There is something really gratifying about wrestling a giant hunk of pork belly around for a week or two as it slowly cures out and turns into bacon.
It's in the genes.
Grandaddy Big Jim Sullivan cured thousands of pounds of bacon during his lifespan. He raised the Duroc hog, grew it big, slaughtered it, bled it out, blocked it down, butchered it, cured it and then the family spent the winter eating it.
Same way they've done it in Eastern Kentucky for hundreds of years. Same way they'll keep doing it from now on.
In the first part of our How To Make Your Own Bacon project we decided on Hatch Chile as a central ingredient. This bacon was divine and drew accolades around town from a number of pro cooks. Our chests swelled with pride.
In the second part of our How To Make Your Own Bacon project we wanted to make a Turkish Style Bacon so we incorporated Za'atar, an incredible seasoning blend from that region. We fed it to a local Turk and she absolutely loved it saying "it damn sure ain't Halal but it sure does taste good".
For the third part of this series we decided to stay a little closer to home and do a Mexican style bacon. We bought a 12lb pork belly and submitted it to the following cure, this time for 11 days, longer than we'd ever cured a belly before.
Here's the recipe: [and at the bottom of the page,previous "how to make your own bacon" articles-you will never eat grocery store bacon again]
1 pork belly, 12lb Berkshire or other good breed
1/2 c. Salt, Kosher
4 t. Salt, pink, curing
1/2 c. Sugar, turbinado
1/2 c. Chile powder, Jalapeno, green, may be purchased at Fiesta or Savory Spice shop
¼ c. Cumin
¼ c. Coriander
* Combine all ingredients thoroughly
* Sprinkle ingredients all over belly
* Put belly in fridge in large pan
* Every 24 hours flip belly over
* Do this for 11 days
* Rinse seasonings off belly with cold water
* Let dry for 24 hours, flipping every few hours
* Build fire in smoker, smoke belly with favorite wood for 2 hours
* Remember, you're not cooking the belly, merely flavoring it with smoke
* 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
* A belly that's been in the freezer for an hour or two slices much more evenly
Voila! Now you're belly is ready to eat. We lost about 3lbs of product due to the lengthy curing process.
Of course if the belly had been sealed in a plastic bag this could have been prevented but we're not selling the stuff. A dry cure magnifies the flavor into an intense state of deliciousness that simply can not be duplicated via wet curing.
Previous home bacon projects http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/index.cfm/How-To-Ma