Question by Sasha B.: Im a bacon lover so i need help to make the best bacon ever!!!!!?
Im hunger so i need help
Thank so much for u guys help i really love the ideas!!!! :)))))
Answer by Orchid
Just about any part of the pig can be made into bacon (which is simply the word for salted pork) but for me the most worthwhile cut will always be the belly – from as big and fat a pig as possible (a baconer, as opposed to a porker). This recipe produces a very versatile pancetta-style streaky bacon – strong and concentrated in flavour, a little on the salty side, and a wonderful addition to any number of stews, soups and pasta sauces. Smoking the bacon is optional – I like to have a supply of both smoked and unsmoked belly always to hand.
Buy your pork bellies in big pieces. A whole belly from one side of a pig may be over a metre long, leaner and thicker at the head end and fattier and thinner towards the tail. It divides neatly into three pieces, roughly 30cm square, which are a good, manageable size both for salting and for hanging and storing.
Flavourings such as brown sugar, bay leaf and pepper can be added to the cure but I don’t usually bother if I’m going to smoke the bellies, as the smoky flavour overrides the subtleties of the cure. Saltpetre (potassium nitrate) is hard to get hold of these days, but as its main purpose is to preserve the colour of the meat it can be omitted.
It’s hard to give exact quantities for your dry-cure mix, but the quantities below should be about right for three pieces of belly. You may need to make up a little more cure mix, in the same proportion, after the first few days.
1 whole pork belly, divided into 3 equal pieces
About 1kg salt
2 teaspoons saltpetre
A few bay leaves, finely chopped
About 20 juniper berries, lightly crushed
Up to 200g soft brown sugar
25g freshly ground black pepper
The process couldn’t be simpler. In a clean, non-metallic container, thoroughly mix the salt and any of the optional ingredients you are using with your (clean) hands. Place one piece of belly at a time on a clean work surface and just grab a handful of the dry-cure mix and start rubbing it with your fingers into all the surfaces of the meat. When it is thoroughly salted all over, place it in a clean box or tray, again non-metallic (wood, plastic or ceramic is ideal), and move on to the next piece of belly.
Stack the finished bellies on top of each other and leave, covered, in a cool place safe from flies. Keep the leftover cure mix. After 24 hours you will notice that the meat has leached salty liquid into the container. Remove the bellies, pour off this liquid, and rub the bellies with handfuls of fresh cure mix. Re-stack the bellies, preferably moving the one from the bottom on to the top.
Repeat the process daily. Your bacon will be ready after just 5 days, though if you cure it for longer (up to 2 weeks) it will keep for longer.
Storing and using bacon
Unsmoked bellies cured in this way should be rinsed of excess salt, patted dry, wrapped in clean muslin and left to hang in a cool, well-ventilated place such as a cellar or outhouse. Cut pieces off the belly as you need them, then rewrap and rehang. Alternatively, wrap the belly in cotton, muslin or greaseproof paper and store in the fridge. Bellies cured for more than 10 days will keep for months in this way but tend to be unpalatably salty. Pieces cut from them can be soaked in fresh water for a few hours to counteract this. My preference is for a lighter (5-7 day) cure, and any bellies that I am not likely to use within a month get vacuum-packed and stored in the freezer.
I have kept smoked bellies in the fridge for up to 4 months, cutting bits off when I need them. Again, wrap in muslin or paper, but never plastic. A little mould begins to appear after a while but you can scrape it off and the bacon will be none the worse.
Smoking will not only add a superb flavour to your bacon but will also improve its keeping quality. Bellies salted as above for just 5 days should be rinsed and hung to dry for at least 3 days before smoking. Then hang them high in a chimney above and to the side of an open fire or place in a smoker (to link directly to my article on Building a Smoker, click here); 24 hours of near-continuous cold-smoking will do the trick. Or if the smoking is intermittent (i. e. you are lighting the fire for a few hours each day), you can leave it for up to a week.
Cooking with home-cured bacon
The finished bacon is in the style of Italian pancetta: quite salty with a very concentrated flavour, and particularly fine when smoked. I find a little goes a long way and, although I use my bacon all the time, I rarely cut whole rashers off my belly for frying in traditional breakfast fashion. Rather I find myself throwing it, usually cut into small chunks, into all kinds of other dishes, such as soups, stews and sauces. A classic quiche made with home-cured smoked bacon is a revelation.
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