I didn’t even have to come up with a title for this post because what I’m sharing about needs no more introduction than itself.
Although this is no ordinary bacon. It is home raised, home made bacon. It makes all the difference. Once you’ve tried it, you will never go back.
As Kermit was older than the average slaughter age (most pigs are culled on average at 6 months, Kermit was around 18 months) he obviously had a bigger middle, which is what you make your bacon out of (middle = belly and loin). This meant that we could make a lot more bacon so we decided to try a few of the types of bacon mentioned in the book (The Gourmet Farmer Deli Book – see previous post) to see which ones we liked best for future reference.
1. Dry-Cured Bacon – the whole pork middle is marinated in a mixture of salt and brown sugar for several days.
2. Wet-Cured Bacon – the whole pork middle is marinated in a brine solution for several days.
3. American Bacon – technically you only use the belly and not the loin however we were more interested in the flavour, which is a generic wet-cure with added honey or maple syrup (or both! We used a half/half mixture of both), so instead of having proper “Streaky American Bacon”, we used the whole pork middle and just noted the flavour. Also Kel did a dry-cure rather than a wet-cure (we only had one tub and that was being used for the plain wet-cure).
4. Stout and Molasses Cured Bacon – Kel actually adapted this from one of the cured ham recipes from the book. The curing ingredients were salt, stout, molasses, bay leaves, whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, and allspice. Instead of wet curing it as you would do for a ham, Kel dry-cured it however it was more of a liquidy dry-cure due to the stout.
Kel also added bay leaves and black peppercorns to all of the cures.
It is suggested that you use the chemicals sodium nitrate and sodium erythorbate when curing bacon however we don’t believe they are necessary, especially on a home scale basis. The book is very open minded about it too, which we liked. Plus we portion and freeze our bacon rather than just vaccuum seal. Also you cook bacon, unlike other cured meats that you eat as is e.g. salami.
With each type of bacon, we only smoked half so we could do a proper taste test of unsmoked and smoked.
1. Dry-Cured Bacon – it was good, just like a classic homemade bacon. It cooked well and both smoked and unsmoked were equally delicious.
2. Wet-Cured Bacon – this turned out more like ham, it was a bit sloppy and not like bacon at all, both in texture and flavour. When cooked, it dropped a lot of liquid and didn’t caramelise very well (which is essential to bacon!!!) As the bacon was hot smoked, it didn’t really work either due to the amount of liquid that it was producing. We probably won’t cure bacon this way again.
3. American Bacon – very delicious however due to the added sweetness not as versatile as the dry-cured bacon e.g. too sweet for a Carbonara. Definitely best eaten as is and not as an ingredient e.g. Canadian pancakes! It cooked well, dropped the least amount of liquid however caramelised the fastest so with this one you have to make sure you watch it carefully while you’re cooking. Both smoked and unsmoked were again, equally delicious. Just choose what you feel like!
4. Stout and Molasses Cured Bacon – delicious, this cure paired really well with Kermit’s meat. As he is older, the cure brought the gaminess out and added a heavy earthy flavour too. Cooked well, pretty much like the dry cured bacon. The smoked was even better than the unsmoked as it increased the afore mentioned flavours.
There you have it. Now our freezer is stocked full of bacon of various types.