The inspiration for my recent making-bacon-at-home fascination comes from this "My BLT From Scratch" post on Michael Ruhlman's blog. Last summer Ruhlman challenged his readers to create and submit their own interpretations of a completely homemade BTL. This included baking the bread, making the mayo, preferably growing the lettuce and tomatoes, and of course, making the bacon.
No ingredient makes people lose their minds like bacon, so let me be clear right from the start, this is not technically "bacon," so save the "this is not technically bacon" emails. My only goal here was to establish a homemade bacon baseline. Instead of trying to paint a masterpiece on my first attempt, I thought I'd start with a simple charcoal sketch.
The technique shown herein is very straightforward, and could be easily mimicked by anyone able to get their hands on pork belly. The idea was to rub the meat with smoked paprika, salt and cracked black pepper, before slowly roasting until tender. After an overnight chill, the belly would be sliced and fried crisp.
For a first attempt, I was very happy with the results. The texture produced by this approach was very bacon-like, although I sliced it too thick for it to get truly "crisp." Above and beyond textural considerations, it needed more salt. Next time I'd be much more aggressive during the dry rub application.
Stay tuned for upcoming versions, which will include brining, curing, and some kind of smoking. In addition to better flavor and texture, these future attempts will also be much more exciting as we substantially increase the odds for some type of serious food borne illness.
By the way, since this wasn't "real" bacon, I decided to show it as humble breakfast meat, and not displayed in its most glorious form, the bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich. Enjoy!
Ingredients (what I used here):
3 pound piece pork belly
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper