Tips for Makin’ Bacon

Apr 12th, 2013 | By | Category: show tips, the show
Slabs of cured pork belly on the smoker, Image ©  Ryan Snedegar

Slabs of cured pork belly on the smoker, Image © Ryan Snedegar

Americans eat approximately 18 pounds of bacon a year. That number must surely be higher among enthusiasts who make their own. And porcine potentate and bacon-maker extraordinaire, Ryan Snedegar (a.k.a. The Baconator), offers the following tips to get you started on your way to a bacon-filled life.

1. Use the best ingredients you can. For bacon this means get the best piece of pork you can. Go to one of the many local pork producers you can hit up at the farmer’s markets, Whole Foods, or Central Market.

2. Use a scale. If you don’t already have a gram-accurate or better kitchen scale, now’s the time to get one. “Charcuterie” book deals a lot with ratios of x grams of y per x kilos of meat, for instance.

3. If you’re not certain a belly is cured all the way through, give it an extra day and check again.

4. Rinse after curing and before smoking/roasting. If you’ve let it cure a day or so too long, you can rinse your belly in clean water for an hour or two to help draw out some of the saltiness. Let the rinsed belly sit overnight in the fridge to dry the outside before smoking.

5. Smoking adds flavor. This is Texas, so someone you know has a smoker if you don’t. Hit them up or use yours. If you don’t have a smoker and are afraid to ask for help, you can always roast in the oven.

6. Try a new way of cooking your bacon. If you always microwave, fry some up. If you fry, try oven roasting. There is value to each way, though some require more patience than others, a trick when bacon is involved!

7. Thick cut bacon is your friend. Also lardons. They’re excellent for other recipes that call for bacon fat/flavors.

8. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Cut your bellies in half before curing and do one half with a new flavor each time. Chipotle bacon, Spicy applewood maple bacon, have fun and see what you can come up with.

9. Food safety is always important, especially when playing with raw meat over long periods of time. Clean up before, after, during, etc. Know the risks and take care to avoid them. No one wants botulism, for instance. That will get you picked on by all your foodie friends.

10. Share with friends. They’ll be amazed and awestruck at your culinary skills they’ll never make you dinner again.

Additional Resources:

Charcuterie: http://www.amazon.com/Charcuterie-Craft-Salting-Smoking-Curing/dp/0393058298

Ruhlman’s blog post on bacon: http://ruhlman.com/2010/10/home-cured-bacon-2/

Better blog post on making bacon: http://frombellytobacon.com/2010/03/17/making-bacon-at-home-the-ruhlman-way/

No-nitrate cure bacon: http://letsmakesomethingawesome.com/2011/03/home-cured-bacon-without-nitrates/

Celery salt is nature’s way of giving you nitrates for curing, so any “nitrate free” stuff with celery salt still has nitrates.

Frying “perfect” bacon: http://www.americastestkitchenfeed.com/super-quick-video-tips/2012/05/make-the-most-perfect-bacon-ever-video/

An excellent use of bacon via Alinea (also the long, slow oven roast menthod for cooking it): http://alineaathome.typepad.com/alinea_at_home/2008/10/bacon-butterscotch-apple-thyme.html

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