16 April 2008

Bringing home the bacon

You can buy bacon just about anywhere nowadays, in desperate times the key ingredients for a bacon sandwich i.e bacon and white bread can be bought in any corner shop. I prefer my bacon to come from my butcher, not just because I care about where my meat comes from but the fact that mass produced shop bought bacon just doesn't compare to butchers bacon.

First of all no white gunk leaking out the meat into the frying pan and second of all it actually tastes like bacon.

So if my butchers bacon is so good and easy to get a hold of, why on earth am I planning on curing my own bacon, in fact I thought it was such a strange idea that it has took me best part of a year to get round to it, and I am only doing so now out of amused interest.

It could be a complete waste of time, then again it could change my bacon eating life for ever.

This recipe comes from Hugh Fearnley - Whittingstall's 'The River cottage family cookbook'
I halved the quantities in this recipe.

Free range piece of pork such as loin (I used organic), about 1.5kg
for the dry cure mix:
bay leaves,
2 juniper berries, 10
Coarse salt, 500g
Soft brown sugar, 100g
Coarsely ground black pepper

First prepare the dry cure.

Finely chop the bay leaves, lightly crush the juniper berries and add both to a non-metallic bowl along with the salt, sugar and pepper. Mix thoroughly together.

Rub a handful of the salt mix into the pork, when all the surfaces are covered put it in a Tupperware box, cover and put in the fridge.

After 24 hours drain any water that the salt has drawn out of the meat and rub another handful or two of the salt cure into the pork. Return to the fridge.

Repeat this process everyday, after 4 days the bacon will be 'lightly' cured (ready to use as bacon sandwiches) although you could cure it for up to a week, this will make it too salty for bacon rashers though so more suited to using in cooking such as soups.

When you've finished curing your bacon, rinse off the excess salt and pat the meat dry with kitchen paper.

Ideally the meat should be hung for 24 hours.

Wrap the finished bacon in greaseproof paper, to let it breathe, and slice as needed.

The 'cure' mix, rubbed into the pork.

So was it worth it, 4 days wait for a bacon sandwich, well, yes it was.

I sliced lovely rashers and fried them (a treat in itself) and served them on fluffy homemade white bread with chunky oven chips.

It was the most delicious bacon, I was quite unsure how it would taste actually, especially as I have such a soft spot for smoked bacon, and while I am not yet ready to attempt smoking bacon just yet as I was surprised at how 'bacon-ey' it tasted.

And while it produced no white gunk in the frying bacon it did produce lovely juices perfect for dipping my bread into.

The only down side I can see to this is that the bacon was slightly over salty for my liking, next time I might cure it for a day less, although the salty bacon will be perfect as a flavour base in many meals.

A long wait but well worth it.


violets said...

I have also been meaning to have a go at this for ages, well ever since I bought the book.

Your bacon looks absolutely amazing, and even though I've just finished dinner I could devour a sandwich right now.

I am also glad you mentioned about smoked bacon as its my favourite too, I keep asking Paul to build me a smoke house, for some reason he hasn't obliged me yet, lol.

Vi xx

Anonymous said...

Wow this looks stunning. I've been meaning to make this too but somehow just haven't got round to it. Must get a spurt on.

Rhyleysgranny said...

It never occurred to me to make your own bacon. How amazing are you? I like trying this sort of thing so i must get some pork

Oh my! Apple pie! said...

Vi: a smoke house...ooh we can dream, lol.
George: It took me almost a year to get round to it, well worth the wait though.
Brenda: The family cookbook, where this recipe comes from has recipes for butter, cheese all everyday things that we no longer would dream of making. A very interesting book.

Anonymous said...

Looks fantastic. Very jealous you have the motivation and patience to make this! Claire/Buntybearx

Anna said...

Wow! That bacon looks truly stunning. I'm salivating just thinking of how it must have tasted!

Maria said...

Wow that bacon looks and sounds delish!


Rosie said...

Oh my homemade bacon WOW!!

This looks and sounds SO delicious!!

I could eat your bacon fried up in a huge bread roll - drool

Rosie x

Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said...

Looks marvelous! The bay and juniper must have made it taste heavenly! You're right, bacon is better from a butcher...but it certainly looks best of all if you make it by yourself!!

A & N said...

Hey gorgeous,

Thanks for the tag! You have been tagged by me (a different tag!). Please see my cookingwithchris blog.

Your blog looks wonderful btw,

MWAH!!! Amy G xxx

Linda F said...

Yay, the comment box came up today! What a clever cookie you are, this looks like such a cool idea, I really want to try this! Thanks for the inspiration!

Kelly-Jane said...

Well done for giving this a go, it sounds wonderful!