I made bacon!
When I first told my husband that I was going to make bacon, he was baffled. “You can’t make it. It already exists. You just take it off the pig and put it in the pan.” While I’d like to mock my darling husband for his precious naivete, frankly, I used to think exactly the same thing before I got my hands on Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn's "Charcuterie."
Their recipe is simple: leave a 3-5 lb. slab of pork belly for a week in a Ziploc bag with 1/4 cup of their basic cure. The basic cure is kosher salt, a little sugar, a bit of pink curing salt (which was a whopping $1.50 at www.butcher-packer.com), and some optional aromatics (I went for the black peppercorns, garlic, and bay leaves.) After a week, roast it in the oven at a low temp, and presto change-o you have bacon, no smoker required.
The bacon is amazing: rich and wonderful and so much more flavorful than the waterlogged supermarket stuff we've been eating for years. I thought I'd really miss the smokey flavor, but its so meaty that I don't. Is it too much of an exaggeration to call it life-changing bacon?
Someday, I'll have a smoker, but in the meantime, I think I can keep myself busy with the bacon and pancetta and duck prosciutto recipes.
you should definitely try it - it's insane how easy it is. i can't believe i've been buying supermarket bacon all this time.
i don't know if you can sub maple syrup for the sugar, but Polcyn & Ruhlman suggest adding maple syrup and/or brown sugar during the curing for a sweeter bacon. i went the savory route (garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves). and you can definitely smoke it, as opposed to roasting.
am i such a big dork that i'm super excited about bacon?!
Cool. That is a great book, and I've had success with a lot of the different recipes/techniques described in it. I have a smoker, so I did make the smoked bacon-I think it is better as part of a larger dish than served on its own, like bacon and eggs. Anyway, have fun-if you like the bacon, I think you'll love the pancetta recipe. Spaghetti alla carbonara is a staple at our house now