Hey bacon fans and welcome to the bac-urious!
Last week I took a lump of dead pig, rubbed it with stuff and hid it away. One week later and things have changed. The cure mix dissolved drawing moisture out of the meat and soaking into it. The slabs of meat are a lot firmer and look a lot like actual bacon.
The proof of the pudding is, as they say, in the eating and much the same is true of bacon. I also want to make sure it’s edible before moving on to phase two, also it’s lunch time.
Just a couple of slices – I want plenty left for the final project. Gently fried and served up on my own caraway sourdough with a pot of Chutney Rebel and a refreshing glass of home made cider.
That’s bacon alright 🙂
To be proper guanciale they’d need to be hung up and dried for weeks. At my old place the attic was just the right combination of dry and cool to do that and I used to eat the stuff thinly sliced and raw. The workshop here is way too humid so I’m going to have to forgo authenticity and just slice and freeze them, they’re still going to taste bloody great with a bit of pasta.
Back to those enticing slabs of piggy goodness and the next level of bacon development.
If there’s one thing better than bacon, it’s smoked bacon and I happen to own a smoker. There are two types of smoking in this world ( alright three if you count the one you lie to your doctor about. ), hot and cold. Hot smoking is basically cooking the food in a smokey atmosphere relatively quickly. Cold smoking is suspending the stuff in smoke for hours or days and requires, yep, cold smoke.
I have a lovely little burner designed to make just that. It’s basically a spiral metal basket, light one corner and it smoulders away gently wafting fragrant wood smoke into the air.
Woodchips won’t do here it needs a very fine sawdust. Other than the burner you just need a box – even cardboard will do the job. Mine made from old crates has seen better days – the house move wasn’t kind to it but it holds a couple of wire shelves and I’ve no incentive to change it.
I put the slabs in flesh side down to get maximum smoke exposure and they’ll need at least 24 hours and up to a week of smoking. The burner runs for about 12 hours on a refill and I’m giving my bacon three days in a mixture of maple, cherry. If there was any spare space I’d have put in a few blocks of cheese or shedloads of nuts.
The end result – three days of smoke and the glorious wonderful bacon has developed a tan – as has everything in the workshop. Fresh out of the smoker stuff has a slightly harsh edge and the flavour of the smoke won’t have diffused all the way through the meat so back into the fridge for a couple of days before slicing, and frying.
Tune in next time for more smoke related antics as I raid the fish market and produce my own smoked salmon and other fumigated wonders. I’m nipping off to make another sandwich 🙂