Home made bacon.

by Veronica on July 22, 2010

Smoked Bacon, the finished product

When Mum slaughtered her pigs, we knew that I was going to be playing around with making bacon from the belly. This week, I did a trial run, using some pork cheeks from the pigs.

I wasn’t too impressed with the butchering of the cheeks – it seemed like a fair amount of meat hadn’t been cut off of the head. That said, the guy who did the killing didn’t charge very much, so I can’t complain too much.

To start with, I cured the cheeks in some sugar and salt for a week.

A proper cure is meant to contain pink salt (curing salt containing nitrite) however, finding curing salt in Tasmania is like looking for a needle in a haystack, so I gave up and just used regular salt, replacing the quantity of curing salt with regular salt.

Basic Dry Cure:

450g (1lb) of salt
225g (8oz) sugar
50g (2oz) pink (curing) salt.

I halved this recipe, knowing that I didn’t need as much as the recipe made this time around.

After I made the cure, I dredged the pork cheeks in the mix – basically dipping the wiped clean meat into the salt/sugar mix until it’s coated – and then I popped them into a snap lock bag and removed as much air as possible. Laying the bag flat in the bottom of my fridge, I turned it every day for a week.

Now, my bacon was very salty – I would suggest anyone else using pork cheeks to only cure for 3-4 days, or until the meat feels dense when poked.

After the meat had cured, I rinsed it and set it aside to dry.

You can see how the fat has softened and I’ve poked it.

If you’ve got a hot smoker, you then put the cured pork into a hot smoker and smoke it until it reaches 65C in the centre, otherwise, put it into an oven set to 90C and cook it slowly until it reaches 65C in the centre. Then cool.

I don’t have a hot smoker, but I do have a whole heap of ingenuity and so I rigged a smoke infusing mixture in the bottom of my roasting pan. Cherry wood chips (thankyou cherry tree) and a warm oven.

However, it didn’t smoke as my oven wasn’t hot enough. So once the meat had spent long enough in the oven (I don’t have an meat thermometer, I should probably buy one) – which was almost 2 hours at 90C, I popped it onto my stove top and turned the hot plates on underneath the pan. This made the cherry chips smoke rather well, thankyouverymuch.

Well enough at least that I filled the house with cherry smoke and the smell of smoky bacon. I suppose I’m just glad I didn’t have clean washing drying inside this time.

5 minutes of smoke with the whole lot covered in foil and my bacon was lovely and smoky. So was my hair/clothes/hands. Heh.

I cooled the bacon after that and then used it as a base for pasta sauce that night. It was delicious.

Personally, I think curing meat is a huge learning curve and I’ll definitely do things differently next time – like smoking over the BBQ instead of inside and not letting the meat cure for quite so long. Even though it was a little salty, it will make the BEST base for soups and stocks at the moment – because of the meat/fat ratio, I don’t think these cheeks would be the best bacon for serving alone, there really just isn’t enough meat.

The bacon has since been dispatched to the Frogpondsrock household and I’m waiting to hear what they have to say about it.

I’m counting it a success though.

{ 6 comments }

Boganette July 22, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Oh that looks soooo good!

Veronica July 22, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Thankyou!

Frogpondsrock July 22, 2010 at 7:19 pm

I will report back here as soon as we have tried it sweetheart. It looks and smells nice though.

Deb July 22, 2010 at 9:26 pm

Wow, it would never even occur to me to make my own bacon. It sounds fun and delicious.

sharon July 22, 2010 at 10:45 pm

Well done Veronica. Just the other day I was wondering whether you had got around to trying the curing process yet. I have read about using a wok and steamer rack to smoke meat or fish. Maybe that would be worth a try.

Amy August 10, 2010 at 6:38 am

YUMMM!

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