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Musings. Family. Food. Stories. Cooking. Recipes. Eating. A recipe journal. From simple Filipino dishes to challenging recipes and exciting gastronomical failures. This is for my girls to look back on for comfort, memories, laughs, love and lots of food!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Home-cured bacon

As its tax time, every corner of this country is obsessing over the carbon tax.  The truth is, mum’s as clueless as the next guy.  And I’m sure dad is just the same.  Personally, I feel it unfair that we /us/consumers are taxed over carbon pollution brought by big companies.  We maybe consuming the products they produced using fossil fuel and carbon, but what is the proportion of a per person consumption over how much these companies are using to produce an actual product?  Besides the fact that we will be slugged with the carbon tax, the big companies will also slug this into the prices of their commodities.  And were not just talking about food here.  We’re talking about the whole supply chain!  Qantas has even announced a fare hike in the next few months to start with.  What can we do?  Just queue up like robots and do what we’re told?  In cases like these, there are opportunities where we can make a difference. And that’s by starting within oneself, in our own.  I came across the 7 habits of reasonably green people from Simple Organic.  It starts with… Being thrifty

Being green doesn’t mean wearing organic cotton and buying only organic produce.  It means thinking about your consumption (food and other stuff), where they came from, and who are you supporting in the process of purchasing them.  Support local farmers, buy seasonal produce, reuse-reduce-recycle!  These are simple ways that we need to really look into and make a habit off, especially with now that we know that climate change is real.  That animated movie Wall-E showing the future of the earth looking like a rubbish dump is not impossible.  So let’s do our bit.

And while we’re at it, from the words of Mark Bittman from the NY Times, let’s start by making food choices simple.  Let’s cook!  And why not start by making your own home-cured bacon!

A week ago, mum started on the home-cured bacon project and what a result.  It was how a home-cured bacon would be – excellent by our standards.  It did not taste anything like the store-bought bacon, and it lacked a bit of that salty-smoky-honey-cured branded variety.  But it smelled and tasted like BACON! And while having BREAKFAST for DINNER is not unusual in our home, it was only right that we try out the bacon the week after its been curing.  We had this last night with some Spanish-style omelette some toast and rice (need I say why?).

This home-cured bacon recipe is adapted from the recipe book Charcuterie through Michael Ruhlman’s website.

2.5k pork belly slab
56g course salt (rock sea salt)
4 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
4 bay leaves, crumbled
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 c brown sugar or honey or maple syrup (we used maple syrup)
5 cloves of garlic, pounded or mashed with the chef's knife

Put your belly in the zip-top bag or on a sheet tray or in a plastic container.  Rub the salt and spice mixture all over the belly.  Close the bag or cover it with plastic wrap, and stick it in the refrigerator for seven days (get your hands in there and give the spices another good rubbing around midway through).

After seven days, take it out of the fridge, rinse off all the seasonings under cold water and pat it dry.

Put it on a sheet tray and put it in the oven (put it on a rack on a sheet tray if you have one) and turn the oven on to 200 degrees F or 94 degrees C (if you want to preheat the oven, that’s fine, too). Leave it in the oven for 90 minutes (or, if you want to measure the internal temperature, until it reaches 150 degrees F.).

Let it cool and refrigerate it until you’re ready to cook it.  

Notes:  If you don’t have five pounds of belly, either guesstimate salt based on the above or, if you have a scale, multiply the weight of the belly in ounces or grams by .025 and that’s how many ounces or grams of salt you should use.

 Cooked to our liking - crispy!  Although mum could have tried to cut them thinner!

Easiest effort we’ve ever taken.  Few minutes of prep, a week long curing period and heaps of patience! 

Although the process of preparing to make this took longer (mum wrote about here a month ago!), e.g. sourcing out the curing salt (from Red Back Trading online) took about a month, procrastinating on actually doing it after several weeks of purchasing slabs of pork belly which only ended up either sliced and fried (lechon kawali) or into our favourite sour-soup pork dish pork sinigang, or pork adobo among other things. 

Now here’s what I can say – we made BACON!  Yes!  Finally! 

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