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Making Bacon


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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).

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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.

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  • 2 months later...

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?

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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.

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Can you take a photograph of it?

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.

gallery_32616_6141_2497.jpg

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

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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.

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.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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

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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Once my Prague salt arrives from the US, I'm looking at making some bacon.

Living in a townhouse, I don't really have room to get or store a cold smoker. I do have a Weber BBQ Kettle though and have "cold" smoked food, including cheese, in there previously (one briquette over the other side of the BBQ with wood chips on top of it).

I found this idea on the Internet, which is basically a tin containing the smoking material with a soldering iron in it as the heat source (video clip is at this link)

Any ideas as to whether this will be successful? Has anyone tried it or something similar?

Thanks

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Once my Prague salt arrives from the US, I'm looking at making some bacon.

Living in a townhouse, I don't really have room to get or store a cold smoker. I do have a Weber BBQ Kettle though and have "cold" smoked food, including cheese, in there previously (one briquette over the other side of the BBQ with wood chips on top of it).

I found this idea on the Internet, which is basically a tin containing the smoking material with a soldering iron in it as the heat source (video clip is at this link)

Any ideas as to whether this will be successful? Has anyone tried it or something similar?

Thanks

I think someone in the old Charcuterie topic mentioned something like that, and that it worked well, but really, the recipe in Ruhlman's book calls for hot-smoking the bacon and I have had very good results with it. Cold smoking lets you up the amount of smoke that gets absorbed, but the basic recipe is still plenty smoky, in my opinion.

Edited by Chris Hennes (log)

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I have two bellies drying in the fridge right now for smoking this weekend. One is a rosemary/garlic/black pepper cure that I've made before, but the other is new, with flavorings based on breakfast sausage: sage, onion, white pepper, bit of cinnamon and nutmeg. Reports shortly.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I've got a Sichuan bacon curing now (from Fuchsia Dunlop's Land of Plenty), as well as the basic Charcuterie recipe. We'll see how they go. I'm planning on smoking the regular bacon tomorrow or Sunday, but I think I have to dry the Sichuan bacon. Does anyone know why I would do this? (I'm pretty sure it's supposed to dry significantly longer than for pellicle development)

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I just reread Dunlop's instructions, and I think that she's talking about developing a pellicle, which is a form of drying. Since it's just for "several hours," I don't think she means actually curing it like it's lop yuk or something.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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So, I tried the Sichuan bacon, used too much charcoal, got distracted, and burnt it to a crisp. However, I did salvage a bit from the inside that was still edible, and it was delicious. I recommend trying it, but keeping in mind two things: 1) the bacon is in thin strips, and thus will not cook for as long, and 2) do not use enough charcoal to launch a rocket.

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I'm sorry to hear it didn't work out: I regard losing a batch of bacon as a fairly crushing defeat. I hate it when I do stuff like that!

1) the bacon is in thin strips, and thus will not cook for as long

Could you explain what you mean by this? I am not familiar with Dunlop's recipe.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Sorry. Her recipe calls for cutting the belly into thin strips before curing. I'm not sure if it's just intended to increase potency or what. Regardless, the bacon was in about 2 in. strips when I smoked it, and it met a quick demise due to my lack of attention.

At least I had a another slab of bacon to cheer me up after my loss...

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While it is more authentic, my problem with it was that it exposes more of the belly to the outside, meaning that you get more of the 'salty outer edge' phenomenon. The flavor was very good, but I think next time I'd do it as a full slab because it got too salty in too many areas.

Edited by MikeHartnett (log)
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