Nothing could be simpler than makin' bacon, the king of all fried meats. How many "vegetarians" have you known who just eat the periodic slab of crisp sautéed hog fat? I rest my case. Bacon is God. To cure your own bacon, plan and shop for ingredients well in advance. You might need to special-order the pork belly from your local butcher or grocery store. You can order curing salt from online retailers such as www.sausagemaker.com; I recommend Insta-Cure #1. In this recipe, I offer three ways to smoke the bacon. If you go the liquid smoke route, use only the real stuff: fake liquid smoke has an unappealing chemical taste. If you choose to smoke the meat on the grill, you'll need some hickory sawdust, which is available in smoking stores or through online retailers. Once the bacon is ready to eat, note that it will be easiest to slice thinly — a must if you like crispy bacon — when it is partially frozen and your knife is very sharp.
Prep ahead: Have on hand 3 tablespoons of real liquid hickory smoke or 5 cups of hickory sawdust, depending on the method you've chosen to smoke the bacon.
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From Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It and Other Cooking Projects by Karen Solomon, Ten Speed Press, © 2009, Karen Solomon.
Karen Solomon is an author, food writer and blogger. She is the author of Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It; Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It; and The Cheap Bastard's Guide to San Francisco. She is contributing author to Chow! San Francisco Bay Area: 300 Affordable Places for Great Meals & Good Deals and former contributing editor to Zagat Survey: San Francisco Bay Area Restaurants. Her writing has appeared in Fine Cooking, Prevention, Yoga Journal, Organic Style, the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine and the San Francisco Bay Guardian.