Although I’ve made pancetta a couple of times (once even landing myself in the local paper for my efforts), I’ve never made plain old bacon before. Because of my Bookslut gig, there seem to be an increasing number of cookbooks about canning, pickling, and preserving washing up on my doorstep. For bacon, I turned to Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It: And Other Cooking Projects (sorry Ruhlman, wanted to branch out).
I had one slab of pork belly left in the freezer, and we’re running out of bacon around here, so I thought I’d make a go of it. This was a terrific recipe. Salt, sugar, pink salt (I used Morton’s Tender Quick which contains all of the above), then I added aleppo pepper and black pepper. Into a ziploc bag it went, and into the fridge, where I flipped it over once day for about a week. Then comes the interesting part. With pancetta, this is where you rinse it, roll it, and hang it for another couple of weeks. Karen Solomon’s recipe has you cooking and/or smoking the bacon at this point. Smoking is a frontier I haven’t yet explored, so I went with fake smoking. I mixed three tablespoons each of liquid smoke and maple syrup, and brushed that all over the bacon. Then it roasted at 200 degrees for a couple of hours. The house smelled wonderful, and I now have a slab of delicious, meaty, local bacon that came from one of Isabelle’s pigs up on the Cokedale road … yum. If you have a reliable source of good pork belly, this is easy and delicious, and totally worth the very minor effort.