Dry Curing Bacon

Dry Cure is simple to concoct, here is the basic recipe:

½ lb /225 grams of Kosher Salt

½ lb /225 grams of Granulated or caster Sugar

2 oz/ 50 grams of Pink salt (Mongolian Salt) all mixed together

First get yourself some Belly Pork, one piece, the weight is up to you, we usually buy a full belly and get the butcher to bone and cut it into 3 pieces. It's readily available in the supermarket too, but if you buy from a butcher, you can discuss its provenance.

Next, you can decide if you want to just lay the piece of the meat in a tray on top of half an inch of the salt mix, then fully cover the meat with the salt mix. Alternatively, you can massage a couple of hands full of the salt mix into the meat and enclose it in a zip bag. The former makes dry cured bacon the latter Pancetta. We usually make Pancetta, but which ever you chose, it needs to go in the fridge for 7 days (turning every day) if you are going for bacon you will notice the liquid coming out of the bacon, therefore once a day, you need to gently pour that off, then add more salt. For Pancetta, you leave the meat sitting in the bag and just turn it (fig 1).

After about 7 days you will notice the colour of the meat has darkened and the texture will have firmed up. (If it has not, then leave a couple more days) After the time in the salt or in the bag, the meat needs to be washed off and dried thoroughly (fig 2). We then cold smoke our bacon in the smoker seen at figure 3, but you don't need to, you can go straight to the oven if you wish.

If you have a smoker, there are various wood chips that can be purchased, however they must be hard wood, we use Apple.

Sometimes the chips need a little help to get the smoulder started; we use a blowtorch for this (fig 4). The strength of flavour comes from the type of wood you use and the length of time you keep the bacon in, for us, it's usually about 3 hours.(fig 5) (If you were hot smoking this would be different).

After smoking, we put the meat into the oven at 200°F 90°C, until the centre of the pork is 150°F or 65°C, at which time you can remove from the oven, cut off the skin or Rind (fig 6 & 7) then let it cool down, wrap and place in the fridge.

The Bacon should keep for one to two weeks in the fridge and it should look like Figure 8 when sliced and be delicious.

With practice you will be able to slice fairly thinly, however the best advice I can give for slicing is use a sharp knife.

Of course you can tweak the mix for your dry cure, you can use Demerara Sugar instead of granulated or caster, you can also add  herbs, crushed juniper berries, ground pepper, chopped Bay leaves,  all of this is to taste; as long as you keep the basic ½ and ½ mix of salt and sugar. You can wash off the pork with water, Malt Vinegar, you can dress the Pork with Honey, Maple Syrup, all of these things are ancillary to the basic process.

bacon fig1   bacon fig2

Figure 1               Figure 2

 

bacon fig3   bacon fig4

Figure 3               Figure 4

 

 bacon fig5   bacon fig6

Figure 5               Figure 6

 

bacon fig7   bacon fig8

Figure 7                Figure 8