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Making Bacon

Charcuterie

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247 replies to this topic

#31 JohnStewart

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 04:33 PM

I work at a restaurant that makes their own panchetta. I have a reasonable grasp of the process, but I'm looking for more.
I would like to be able to make my own salami's, pepperoni, bacon, sausages etc. I am pretty familiar with making my own bacon and sausage, but it would be nice to see it in writing before I give my friends tricanosis(sp) or something.
Even a cookbook recommendation would be nice, I have the complete meat cookbook and a pretty extensive cookbook collection but this seems to be a skill that people don't like to share in books.
I also have access to curing salt and casings I just need the knowledge.
Thanks

#32 HKDave

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 06:19 PM

A dated but good starting point is the late Jane Grigson's "Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery" or "The Art of Making Sausages, Pates, and Other Charcuterie (aka 'The Art of Charcuterie')" - all of which, someone please correct me if I'm wrong, I think are different editions of the same book. The first is still in print and is available from Amazon last time I looked. The second sells for about $40 used if you can find it.

Also check out John Kinsella's "Professional Charcuterie : Sausage Making, Curing, Terrines, and Pâtés".

Just made my first fresh sausage this week.... much easier than I thought.
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#33 helenas

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 08:45 PM

In addition to Dave's excellent recommendations two recent books come to mind:
Bertolli's "Cooking by Hand" and
Aidells' "Complete Book of Pork".

#34 polack

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 05:54 AM

I would recommend Rytec Kutec's book on sausage making. This book has all the basics in curing, sausage making, pickleing and whatever. The good thing about it is, it has a host of recipes to get started with and the directions are quite simple to follow. When I first started making my own sausage and dry curing different products, I used his book and got a lot of good pointers. Since then I've changed recipes and came up with a few that have stuck with me for last 15+ years. You probably can find his book from www.sausagemaker.com, and any book supply center.
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#35 sparrowgrass

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 06:57 AM

I have a ham hanging in the shed even as we speak, but won't be able to vouch for it til May. I will keep you posted. :biggrin:
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#36 =Mark

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 07:31 AM

Dan Gill is a rancher in the tidewater area of Virginia. He's a regular jack of all trades and a master of just about all of them. He's got a lot of information on Smoking and Curing Meats.
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#37 jayt90

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 11:15 AM

I like the link to Dan Gill, was set to do a ham like this three weeks ago. Then I started to do some more reading and got scared by the lack of nitrates or nitrites.
They supposedly add flavour, colour, and safety from botulism. In addition, if erythorbate is added (or Ascorbic acid) then there is some freedom from nitrosamines being formed when the meat is cooked under high heat.

I bought a pork leg at a grocer for $22. I took the bone out.

So I soaked the fresh ham, bone out, well scored, in a solution of salt, maple syrup, nitrite, and erythorbate for two weeks.

Today I drained it and rubbed in a salt combo: pickling salt, demerarra sugar,
paprika, crushed bay leaves, and pepper. I'll keep rubbing it perodically, in my 35 degree basement, until early March. A lot of juice will come out.

Then I'll let it rest for three weeks, before slow smoking it in maple chips for a day.

It should hang after that, but I'll be sorely tempted to soak half of it water, and prepare it with red eye gravy.

I'll keep you posted on this one...

#38 debler

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 07:47 PM

Wow! sounds great!

But why did you take the bone out? personal preference or a different reason?

I make my own corned beef.I don't boil it, I have a dry rub mix , it also has saltpeter in it, let the well wrapped brisket sit in the fridge for a week, turning after 3 days and then baked.

I love smoked foods! I would love to do more then I do now. I swear by my caol BBQ, it's very versitile. I have seen a smoker I would love to get my hands on....but I'm afraid my wooden storage out in the back yard would very quickly be turned into "the smoke house" !! :laugh:

Edited by debler, 07 February 2005 - 07:51 PM.


#39 Really Nice!

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 10:54 PM

Someone sent me an e-mail saying the photo server I was using was no longer functioning, and I can't edit the original, so here's a repeat of the post using ImageGullet.

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The basic summary: If you have two smokers and you love bacon, you have to try this. You'll make the best bacon you've ever had in your life.

1. Here are the packages of pork bellies. I was hoping to get larger pieces, but this is all they had. I bought it at a local Asian market for $2.89 a pound.
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2. This is the dry brine recipe. After three days there will be about 12 ounces of liquid in the bag.
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3. This is both the dry and wet brine recipes after three days. The wet brine pork got a lot of dark color (and flavor) from the molasses. I started brining both on Wednesday morning.
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4. You want to create a light skin on the pork. Set up a fan to blow air on it for about an hour to create the 'pellicle.'
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5. This is the wood. The original photo looks a lot better. But, that's Maple on the left, Apple on the right, and Hickory in the front. To describe them I'd say they look like rabbit droppings. I used 1.5 pounds of maple and apple each, and 3 pounds of Hickory. There was about 1/2 pound left at the end of 8 hours.
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6. This is the operation. It ain't pretty but it works beautifully. The traeger is on the right. It's a wood pellet auger-driven smoker system. I used painter's tape because I didn't want the sticky stuff that duct tape leaves behind. Unfortunately, it rained after I set up the operation the night before and it started falling apart. I taped the sides of the lid, as well as the pipeline, and the grease drain. I'm guessing about 75 percent of the smoke made it inside the Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM) pictured on the left.
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7. This is a closer look at the link to the WSM. It fell apart shortly after I took this photo. Painter's tape doesn't hold well on wet surfaces. I ended up using clear packing tape, but I still couldn't get a good connection as too much smoke was escaping. I decided to cut the end of the pipeline in 8 places, about 1.5 inches deep.

I then folded back each cut and applied tape to the 8 newly created 'wings.' Sorry, but I didn't take a photo of the new connection. The tape held firm and the new connection reduced the amount of escaping smoke.

Also, the WSM has three vents in the bottom, one vent on top. The vent connecting to the pipeline was wide open, the other two on the bottom were completely closed. The vent on the top was initially wide open to create a draft, and after about 30 minutes I closed it halfway.

The WSM is a water smoker, meaning it has a basin in the middle to hold the water. Remove this so it doesn't interfere with the smoke. Leave the charcoal basin in the bottom to prevent smoke from leaking out or to prevent the draft from getting too strong.
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8. This is the bacon as it sat in the WSM. The temperature inside never got over 100F. The day started out cloudy and cool (60F). Towards the afternoon it became sunny and warmed up to about 90F. I started the Traeger on high; about 450F for about 10 minutes. This produced a lot of smoke. I turned it down to medium (300F) for 20 minutes; then on low (150F) for 7 hours. Finally, it went back to medium for the last 30 minutes. Total smoking time: 8 hours.
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9. This is the WSM as I opened the lid after smoking the pork bellies for 8 hours. There's a lot of smoke and the bacon looked lean. I placed it all in the freezer to harden for about an hour before slicing it on a Braun slicer.
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10. This is the cooked bacon. I think this particular piece was originally about 12 ounces and it gave me twelve good slices and a couple not so good. The Braun slicer was on setting 2, or about 1/4 inch thick. I baked it at 425F for 15 minutes. It looked better than the photo shows.
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11. Time to assemble my ultimate sandwich, the Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato. I made bread while the bacon was smoking, made homemade mayonnaise, got a tomato from a neighbor's garden, and for the first time, I'm using homemade bacon. I couldn't find any local iceberg lettuce so I had to go with store bought.

The remaining bacon was sliced and vacuumed sealed.
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12. And here it is. The best BLT I've ever had in my life. So naturally you need one heck of a fine wine to go with it: Lafite Rothschild, 1976. You can't see it, but the wine had a beautiful red brick rim.
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Conclusion: Okay, we know I'm not a photographer. :biggrin: I'd like to say I'll never buy store bought bacon again. If I'm in a pinch and unprepared, I'll have to buy it. But, with a little bit of planning, you too can have some fantastic bacon in just four days.

----------------

Addendum: This post originated in the Pacific Northwest forum as a quest to find pork bellies, hence the initial discussion for a local purveyor. It is now rightfully placed in Adventures in Eating. This was the only time I made bacon like this. I sold the house soon after this test and now live in a condo that does not allow for bbqs, smokers, etc. :shock:
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#40 jayt90

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Posted 08 February 2005 - 08:54 AM

Wow! sounds great!

But why did you take the bone out? personal preference or a different reason?

I make my own corned beef.I don't boil it, I have a dry rub mix , it also has saltpeter in it, let the well wrapped brisket sit in the fridge for a week, turning after 3 days and then baked.

I love smoked foods! I would love to do more then I do now. I swear by my caol BBQ, it's very versitile. I have seen a smoker I would love to get my hands on....but I'm afraid my wooden storage out in the back yard would very quickly be turned into "the smoke house" !! :laugh:

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I had a limited amount of solution, and found that with the bone out I could easily cover the leg in a food safe plastic bucket.
I roasted the bones, and let my dog work on them for a half day.

I have seen photos posted in threads here using a Weber for mild smoking. The coals or wood are off to one side, and completely burned out . Offsetting the lid will keep the temperature down, too.

My leg is probably too large for the Weber, so I'll use a horizontal barrel shaped BBQ-smoker. I have used this for smoked salmon, and achieved a cold smoke by opening the lid 2" and making sure there was no fresh blue-black smoke going through.

#41 jayt90

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 12:58 PM

Progress report:
My ham is still under the salt rub.
After I took it out of the brine, I put a pork loin rib end, and let it brine for 2 weeks.
I smoke it yesterday, for 4.5 hrs. Turned out good but salty.
I'll give you a taste test tomorow

#42 Really Nice!

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Posted 14 July 2005 - 02:05 PM

Well the house is no longer as I sold it and moved into a condominium. I'm stuck sharing two Weber barbecues with 180 other units. I shall not be denied my right to homemade bacon (U.S. Constitution Article IV, Section 5. No person shall be denied the right to make homemade bacon.) So I made bacon using a Weber barbecue.

Steps 1 through 4 are the same as above. This time I brined the pork belly in 1/2 cup salt, 1/8 cup maple syrup, some cracked pepper, and some dry mustard.

Here's the MEP list for making bacon with a barbecue: 2 metal ramekins, towel, wood chips (in this case, hickory), plastic wrap, aluminum foil, tongs, 2 pot holders 1 metal wire rack, 6-inch 1/3 hotel pan. (The pot holders were unnecessary, but should be available just in case...)
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Here's the barbecue 'pit'. So sad...
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Before starting, get your MEP together because you're going to have to work fast. Unroll the foil and plastic wrap. Place the hotel pan on top of a long piece of plastic wrap. You'll need enough unrolled to wrap the top as well. Place the two metal ramekins in the 6-inch 1/3 hotel pan. You'll dump the wood in between these two ramekins and then place the bacon on the wire rack on top of the ramekins. In this setup, I'm using the ramekins to gain some elevation between the wood and the bacon.
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Make an envelope out of the foil and place the wood chips inside. It doesn't have to be airtight. And in fact, you probably don't because you want to quickly open the envelope to dump the wood into the hotel pan. Also, you'll need some air inside because you're going to get as close to burning the wood as you can. Place the foil envelope in the barbecue as close to the flame as possible. Move the grate to the side, if you can. Use the tongs to turn the envelope every 2 or 3 minutes to help ensure an even burning. It took me about 10 minutes to get the wood to an "all black with red amber edges" stage.
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After the wood has charred well enough and there's red ambers on the edges, dump the wood into the hotel pan, insert the bacon on the wire rack (balance it on top of the two metal ramekins), and wrap the plastic over the pan to trap the smoke.
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Place the foil over the wrapped pan and use a towel to seal. It should be air tight. Crimp the foil hanging over the edge as tight and close to the lip of the edge as possible. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
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After 24 hours, open the package, remove the bacon and discard the wood. I prefer thick-sliced bacon; this is a little more than an 1/8-inch thick. The slicer is too big for the condo storage so I don’t have it handy. Using a serrated knife for slicing was very easy. If you prefer thinner bacon I think you'll need to use a slicer.
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Bake on a sheet pan in a 325°F oven for 16 to 20 minutes. Yum!
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For some reason, cooked bacon doesn't photograph very well.
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#43 snowangel

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Posted 15 September 2006 - 02:46 PM

Over here, you'll note that Chris has a mess of bellies that need to be used up. I'd hope that he would not do all of them in Lop Yuk, but do some of them in a more traditional cure. Over on the Charcuterie topic, a mess of us have been making bacon.

As an aside, at our most recent trip to The cabin, we stopped at F & D Meats in Virginia, and had some rathter odd bacons. First up was the brown sugar and cinnamon, next up the cajun.

The first slice of the brown sugar and cinnamon was divine, every bit after that was cloying. We decided that cinnamon bacon is better either eaten simply by slice, or it would make a wonderful addition to a salad, or something.

The cajun, on the other hand, in a BLT, was beyond belief. Sublime, with the hint of cajun combining perfectly with mayo and tomato and some crisp iceberg.

Let's give Chris some ideas beyond just Lop Yuk.
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#44 snowangel

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 10:29 PM

I'm going to smoke some bacon tomorrow my my back-door neighbors smoker (yes, the trusty kettle will feel neglected, but I think I might be dual smoker smoking, and stick a butt piece on the latter). Anyway, his smoker will hold at about 90-100 degrees. Do I still take the bacon to an internal of 150? Help!
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#45 snowangel

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 09:26 PM

I smoked bacon yesterday, using my neighbor's cabinet style smoker, and I was able to keep the heat very low (like barely 80 degrees F). It was an interesting experiment as I was burning on a home improvement project, helping a friend (over the phone) help with funeral details, and tending the smoke, but I have a beautiful product. I was too tired tonight to even cook some up, but tomorrow or the next day, when it is cooked, I have the feeling everyone here is going to be drooling, and just want to run out and get a belly, cure it and smoke it.

I will say at the beginning that this is not a fab belly, it's not a Niman thing, or even a farmer's market heirloom pig belly. It was at the market (actually, there were two of them) at $.89/lb. For that, I can donate a little pink salt, some brown sugar, some kosher salt, a bit o' charcoal, and get the teen to chip up some cherry wood.

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Oh, best of all, a friend called lamenting the demise of her bread machine, so we traded my used-once bread machine for her once-used Krups meat slicer! (We call it home shopping.) Makes slicing bacon so easy...
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#46 Chris Hennes

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 07:59 AM

Double-smoked Pepper Bacon, step-by-step
Ratios from M. Ruhlman and B. Polcyn, Charcuterie, first edition

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For this batch of bacon (my third) I am using a half of a Niman Ranch pork belly, skin left on, cured using a recipe based on the one found in Charcuterie. I am making a savory bacon this time around, so no maple syrup, and two bay leaves and a healthy dose of black pepper added. This is all ground up in the spice grinder and applied to the belly. I then wrapped the belly in plastic wrap, put it in a 2-gallon Ziploc bag, and put in the the bottom of my fridge for seven days, turning it over each day to redistribute the brine. On the last day I took it out, rinsed it off, and put in on a rack in the fridge to develop a pellicle for better smoking.

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I smoked the bacon in two stages: first, a cold-smoke for about 6 hours, using hickory. I was smoking some sausage at the same time, since the smoking chamber is plenty big for both. The smoker is right outside the door to my deck, so I run a thermometer inside to keep track of the smoker temp. It was about 50 degrees F outside, which is about the temperature the cold-smoking chamber maintained throughout.

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The next day I smoked the belly again, this time hot, over mesquite (because I ran out of hickory!).

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The next step is to remove the skin, which is best done when the bacon is still very hot out of the smoker. I used a paring knife to get it started, but if you do it while the belly is still piping hot, the skin should just pull right off. Of course, this will hurt since it's still hot, but sometimes we have to make sacrifices for bacon :biggrin: . It is worth it...

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Next, after cooling the bacon in the fridge overnight, I sliced the bacon on my Hobart 110 and packaged it up. I like to use the Reynolds Handi-vac system for this. If you pre-wrap the slices in plastic wrap before vacuum sealing them, you can put two meals worth of bacon in one bag and freeze it. When you want one, it is easy to remove just one since the plastic wrap keeps them separate in the freezer. You can use fewer bags this way.

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Finally, a taste-test is required before packing up for the night... :biggrin: . This is very smokey, savory bacon, perfect for BLTs, which is its intended use. Man, I love bacon. :wub:

Edited by Chris Hennes, 16 April 2008 - 08:11 AM.

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#47 pounce

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 04:15 PM

Very nice. Love the Hobart and the picture of you hugging your bacon on your website!

http://chrishennes.com/Welcome.html

Nice pictures too. What sort of camera and lighting are you using?
My soup looked like an above ground pool in a bad neighborhood.

#48 heidih

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 08:58 PM

Chris- lovely bacon, but what did you do with that piece of skin? Have been thinking about it since you posted.

#49 Chris Hennes

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 09:03 PM

Nice pictures too. What sort of camera and lighting are you using?

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It's a low-end DSLR with an external flash pointed at the ceiling for most of the shots, using various relatively short apertures.

Chris- lovely bacon, but what did you do with that piece of skin? Have been thinking about it since you posted.

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That skin is destined for a pot of beans later this week. Believe me, it didn't get thrown away, it is beautiful!

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#50 zenpup

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 07:03 PM

Have been smoking my home cured bacon mostly with applewood, as I had to take down an apple tree, but am curious about trying cob smoking.

If you've ever tried it I'd be interested in your input. Since the corn season here in eastern PA is coming soon...

I use a side-firebox Char-Broil smoker to hot smoke my bacon. TIA!
[color=blue][size=1][font=Arial]I'd rather be making cheese; growing beets or smoking briskets.

#51 LooseCard

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 09:32 AM

Check this thread, or ask the gang that's there; they are heavy into bacon, and could be of help:

Cooking (or curing) from "Charcuterie", sausages, terrines, cured meats

I think the best suggestion will be to tell you to try it. With a small piece, that is.
I seem to recall this discussion for some other smoked product, and I don't believe they were happy with the Cob-smoke flavor (don't think it was bacon, either).

#52 Dave Weinstein

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 12:24 AM

I picked up a small piece of Mangalitsa pork belly, and decided to do a comparison with a factory belly.

I cured both pieces in the same cure, using Applewood Smoked Salt for the salt, and adding maple syrup and fresh Rosemary.

I can't afford to do all my bacon out of Mangalitsa pigs (especially since I still have a very large stash of frozen pork belly), but the Mangalitsa bacon was significantly better.

#53 sandercohan

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Posted 30 July 2008 - 10:42 AM

Guys,

I need some help "troubleshooting" some of my bacon.

I'll post pictures tonight, but maybe my description will yield a quick answer.

I ordered a pork belly from niman ranch last week (which, on the downside, arrived frozen, but, on the upside, was way bigger than I expected), thawed it, and parceled it into four smaller bellies (about 4 lbs each) to make bacon, maple bacon, pancetta, and salt pork.

I realize this is really bacon, bacon, bacon, and bacon, but I'm working on technique here.

Anyway, they've been sitting in their respective cures in 2.5 gallon ziplocks, stacked on each other in a drawer in my refrigerator since Saturday afternoon, overhauling every other day (or so). I plan to pull them out on Friday to begin phase 2.

My maple bacon seems to have developed a "bruise". Maybe I didn't notice it before, but it definitely has a dark spot that appears to be below the skin (i.e. not USDA dye or green mold).

Its fairly large, probably about 1.5-2 inches in diameter. Should I be worried? My instinct is to cut it out, but I don't want to overreact. I also don't want to get sick, either.

Thoughts?

#54 MikeHartnett

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Posted 30 July 2008 - 10:48 AM

My immediate reaction is that it's probably some sort of pooling of the curing liquid. I haven't seen this, but it strikes me as unlikely that your bacon would develop some sort of problem while curing, as opposed before or after.

If it were me, I probably wouldn't worry about it, but as a disclaimer, I don't worry about all that much when eating, and I certainly would wait for someone else's opinion on this, rather than accepting mine.

#55 Chris Amirault

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Posted 30 July 2008 - 11:43 AM

Can you take a photograph of it?
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#56 sandercohan

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 07:06 AM

Can you take a photograph of it?

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Here you go. It's not as pretty as Chris' photography, but any help with the diagnosis would be great. Lemme know if you need another angle.

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Thanks! I promise to publish photos of the finished product to offset the ghastliness of this one.

#57 Chris Hennes

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 07:33 AM

[Here you go.  It's not as pretty as Chris' photography, but any help with the diagnosis would be great. Lemme know if you need another angle.

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Wow, you're right, that really does look like a bruise. It seems too dark to be a pooling of the curing liquid. Based on my extremely minimal knowledge of bruising (gleaned mostly from watching way too much CSI!) I theorize that it is at least possible that very shortly before being "dispatched" your pig was injured in some way. It ordinarily takes a bruise some time to form/become visible, so if the freezing happened very shortly after death (as it would in these circumstances) that could have stopped the visible formation of the bruise until you thawed the belly and put it in the cure. I'm totally making this up, but hey! it sure does look like a bruise.

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#58 MikeHartnett

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 07:41 AM

Yeah, it does look quite dark, and it seems odd that if it were curing liquid, it doesn't move anywhere when you flip the belly over like that...

Odd. Is that another one at the top left, or just a splash of the cure sticking to the bag?

ETA: It's nice that it's in the corner though. If it does need to be cut out, it's conveniently placed.

Edited by MikeHartnett, 31 July 2008 - 07:42 AM.


#59 Chris Amirault

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 08:22 AM

I've never seen anything like that. Clearly we need a veterinarian who does charcuterie around here -- an unlikely combination, I fear. :hmmm:
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#60 sandercohan

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 11:00 AM

I've never seen anything like that. Clearly we need a veterinarian who does charcuterie around here -- an unlikely combination, I fear. :hmmm:

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Seriously. Really drives home the meaning of "marks from where the jockey was hitting it" :wink: I'll probably just cut it out. Its a pretty large belly anyway, and it'll give me a good excuse to see if the cure made its way to the middle or not before I set to smoking it.





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