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May 19, 2005 10:00 AM

Pork, pork, pork!

  • c

Okay, I've bought cow, I've bought lamb, now I'm is gettin' me a hog! Just heard back from a farmer who is going to sell my friends and me a whole hog, not pig roast sized, but full sized, organic and pastured, at $5.50/pound. I'm a happy woman this morning. Organic pork has been hard to track down; there are lots of farms selling organic chicken, and even quite a few selling beef and lamb, but pork has proven hard to find.

Beyond sharing my excitment at a freezer full of pork that tastes like pork, here's my question: what do you do with the fresh bacon? Fresh ham I've cooked before, but fresh bacon throw me entirely. Is it possible to smoke it at home using a home smoker? If so, what kind? One of my friends has a small smoker you put on the top of a Weber, but if we needed anything larger we would have to invest. Worth it? I hope someonme here has butchered a pig and will have some ideas.

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  1. Sounds like you're more interested in smoking techniques, but there are several Chinese recipes that involve a whole chunk of fresh bacon. My favorite involves searing all sides of the meat, then braising for an entire day in a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, sugar, water, and 3 handfuls of green onions. I'll get more specific if this interests you. It's great with white rice, but incredibly rich. Those in the family who worry about cholesterol limit themselves to eating this once a year. But it is a treat. We liken it to a Christmas goose: fatty, but oh so good.

    1 Reply
    1. re: nooodles

      Could you please post the recipe? I would love to make this! My mother used to make this when i was younger, but has been sticking to low(er)-fat cooking for my father's sake.


    2. I've never done it myself, but bacon is cold smoked aka uncooked. So i'm guessing using a weber to smoke fresh bacon wouldn't work. Alton Brown on Good Eats smoked his own bacon once. I'm sure you can find the recipe on the food network website. Basically the smoke was generated in one box, passed through a tube and into another box. By the time the smoke was in the second box, it was no longer hot.

      Other options for fresh bacon would be to make chinese dishes like Double Cooked Pork, try curing your own pancetta, or even just braising it.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Evan

        if you happen to have a weber smoker, you can convert it to a cold smoker, using some of the techniques Alton Brown showed. Here's a step-by-step process. This way you can cold smoke the bacon. I'd follow Alton's suggestions on how to prepare and smoke the pork, but do it with the smoker set up shown here.

        of course, that implies that you have a weber smoker (which every person who loves pork should have) :)

        - Adam


        1. re: adamclyde

          Thanks so much for that link! I think my friend has a Weber smoker. I, alas, do not have a yard, so I have neither a smoker nor a grill, which is tragic indeed for a lover of the pork. (But with rent prices in Cambridge what they are, I'm lucky to have a kitchen.)

      2. you are lucky. tom collicchio has a recipe for braised pork belly (fresh, unsmoked bacon) in think like a chef. i wanted to make it but couldn't source the pork belly! also, within the last several years the nyt did a long article on pork belly. if you can find it, it might give you some ideas. as others have mentioned, look to chinese cuisines, especially sichuan.

        1. Happy day for you. We have a share in an organic pig as well. We often give it a quick brine because the texture can be a shock to guests. It is wonderful stuff.

          We used the Coloccio book for the belly, Bruce Adells pork book for fresh cure unsmoked bacon, and Head to Tail for the other odd cuts. Also we used various charcuterie and Chinese books for the rest.

          4 Replies
          1. re: JudiAU

            Just curious, how is the texture different?

            1. re: Jess

              Organic pork is meat. The texture is much firmer and has chew. I don't mean that it is tough, because it isn't. But it has substance even heft. The color is much darker and richer, the flavor profound, and the fat is amazing. It is utterly delicious. Our friends are constantly scheming to get ours and people drop hints all the time about being included in the pig share. Even the ground pork is sublime.

              But you would never, ever be so rude to refer to it as the "other white meat" i.e. a revolting mass produced meat substitute for the revolting mass produced chicken breast someone might have otherwise consumed.

              If you have any familiarity with the differences between a tasty organic chicken and a battery raised chicken or an organic egg and battery raised egg than you can guess at the profound differences that exist.

              I love having a share in the pig and even though it is tough to finish everything we would never turn down a shipment.

              1. re: JudiAU

                Oh, I am so excited. I have found that my organic, grass-fed beef is the same - much more flavorful, a bite wild-tasting, a bit more heft (that's a great way of describing it). Strangely, the organic, grass-fed lamb is, while still flavorful and delicious, if anything a bit less gamey and a bit more delicate than supermarket lamb. Maybe it's younger?

                1. re: curiousbaker

                  I've found the same thing. Most of the grass fed lamb we get is imported from NZ and Australia. It is all grass fed and it is generally young, which gives it a sweeter lighter taste.

                  American lamb may be grass fed but only the super premium stuff usually is. Other ameican lamb is formula/grain fed. Bah. It is also slaughtered much later so the chops are bigger.

                  We used to get imported lamb chops from NZ at Trader Joes at a very good price. Very delicate, young and grass fed. They switched about a year ago to an American producer and the chops are much bigger, stronger, and