May 21 2007

Curing Bacon

Back to pigs and curing bacon. I become fussier and fussier about the bacon I buy. What is that awful, white, fishy smelling, sticky goo that emerges from each rasher as it fries, rendering the lot soggy and welded to the pan? Why doesn’t it turn crisp and fill the air with that irresistible coffee mixed smell of breakfast as I struggle back, cold and hungry from the yard?

So the pork belly will go into a dry cure: salt, bay leaves, crushed peppercorns, juniper berries and soft brown sugar. I will rub the mixture into the meat and place it in a plastic tray; wood will do to but on no account will I use metal. I will cover it with a tea towel and leave it in the fridge overnight. The next day I will pour off the liquid that has leached out of the meat and, if necessary, rub in a little more salt mixture. I will repeat this for three or four days. The longer I leave it the more salty but the more stable it will become. Finally I will take it out of the cure, rinse it well and pat it dry. I will wrap it in muslin or maybe greaseproof paper and make room in my fridge for it to hang from a shelf. It will keep for a month like this. Mild weather makes me feel the fridge is the safest option.

I would like to have it smoked but my local smoke house is now too large a concern to take tiny pieces of home cured affairs, so I’ll enjoy it “green”. Maybe one day I’ll tackle home smoking….

Delicious meals start to fill my head; petit sale with Savoy cabbage and mashed potatoes. Soak the bacon to remove the salt, rinse and bring gently to the boil, simmer for about forty minutes. Chop a Savoy cabbage, blanche in boiling water and drain well. Drain the cooked bacon and keep warm. Keep the liquor for future soup. Melt a piece of butter in a thick pan, add a tablespoon of the bacon liquor and re-heat the cabbage. Serve hot boiled bacon with cabbage and mashed potatoes.

Or how about an Anglicised Tartiflette? Fry some bacon till just beginning to crisp, add a couple of chopped onions and a left over, boiled potato or three. When the onion begins to caramelise tip the lot into and oven proof dish and pour over a little cream. No, this is not a light, slimming dish! Top with cheese, traditionally it should be Tomme de Savoie, but use up whatever you have. Bake until the cheese melts and bubbles. Delicious!

For a really quick supper just fry bacon cubes, shallot and cooked, sliced potatoes and, maybe, some mushrooms together and top with a fried egg. So simple and so nice!

But whatever you do, just remember as the winter month’s approach, to take a tip from Pieter Breuegel, the Elder’s Peasant Dancer and wear your spoon in your hat, so you may always be absolutely sure of a good meal wherever you go …….

No responses yet

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply