How excited am I? I'm finally, after weeks of having Ruhlman's book Charcuterie, making my own bacon! I just had to after seeing how simple it was. However, there have been a few obstacles. First, getting a pork belly was kind of rough. It might have been easier through a butcher, but I don't know one, so I went through my local grocery store meat counter. It took some doing, but they finally came through...I even got an extra to freeze and use for later experimentation. (Actually I got one whole pork belly and had them cut it in half...which resulted in 2 approx. 5 lb. slabs.) Getting the pink salt was easier, as Ruhlman directed me to butcher-packer.com, where I ordered the DQ Curing Salt. So by yesterday, I had everything I needed. Pork belly, pink salt, kosher salt, sugar and a 2 gallon ziploc bag.
I did not, however, have a kitchen scale, and the basic dry cure recipe is in weights. When I explained to Jack that I thought I could just eye-ball it, he got all huffy. His engineering brain would not allow it. Probably smart of him, since the pink salt is poisonous and not enough curing power could result in spoiled meat...so there are potential health risks to my eye-ball method. Being the smart hero he is, Jack worked some mathematical/physics/spread-sheet juju and came up with measurements in cups/teaspoons/tablespoons for me to use. Yay! I'll share that recipe once I know it works for sure (I have little doubt, but, you know...).
After all that it was easy...coat the belly with the dry cure, put it in a ziploc bag, put it in the fridge. By next weekend we should be able to smoke it and use it for....so many things!
When I ordered the pink salt, I went ahead and got a couple other supplies.
They will come in to play when I try my hand at making pancetta! The obstacle there will be where to hang it. Not many options in an apartment. Would it be weird to clear out part of a big closet to hang meat? We'll see. CHOW has a great series on making your own pancetta, including videos on how to roll it and tie it!
good luck stef, i'll be watching!
btw, i looked at the chow recipe. they say pink salt is the same as saltpeter. this isn't true. saltpeter is potassium nitrate. pink salt is sodium nitrite. important difference. if you have an account, would you post that comment or let someone at chow knw?
Which store did you go to to get the pork belly? I can't think of any place I've seen whole pork bellies in the area.
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