Friday, July 30, 2010

Faking Making Bacon – Part One

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 l
et 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

View the complete recipe


KrisD said...

oooh, pork are my only friend, lovely belly.

You can also get pork belly at places like H-Mart or other Asian market.

Jennifer McGavin said...

Can I plug my German bacon recipe, please?

I got my pork belly from a half a hog the farmer up the road butchered. Well, really he butchered the whole hog... Also, the meat packers took off the skin (Schwarte) :-( which is NOT COOL.

Gin said...

I'll be interested to see where you take this.

Signed, Gin...who used to do this from start (raising hogs) to finish (making the sausage and salting, curing and hickory smoking bacon, shoulders and country hams)

Anonymous said...

"Instead of trying to paint a masterpiece on my first attempt, I thought I'd start with a simple charcoal sketch"

We eagerly look forward to the masterpiece, and sundry treats enroute!

Chris K. said...

Thank you for not using the word "unctuous" in this post. Food writers in general need to learn what it really means.

Looking forward to the bacon progression here - keep up the excellent work!

Asian Malaysian said...

Hi Chris, what word would you suggest that food writers use in place of "unctuous"?

rita said...

bacon... pork belly... no wonder i keep coming back here. can't wait for the next update.

Chris K. said...

Hi yourself Asian!

I would choose a less pejorative word, such as "lardaceous." Unctuous means excessively oily or greasy, and not in a good way.

Besides that, whenever food writers describe pork belly (or a derivative thereof), they invariably use the word "unctuous." It gets kind of repetitive and boring.

Cameron said...

Mmmmmmm... baaaacon... (drrroooooolllll!!!!!)

Sigh! Thanks, Chef, for sharing this experiment with us! I cannot wait for part two. We did house-cured/smoked bacon in a Catering & Buffets class at LCB & it was... exceedingly awesome! :) I'm looking forward to seeing the progression of videos on this delicious topic.

Anonymous said...

Hello Chef John,

I'm amazed how porc belly seems to be such a "chic" dish in the US.
We're I'm from (the Netherlands) you could just get porc belly sliced thick without the rind in the meat section of the supermarket. People just use salt and pepper (nothing fancy AND just a normal pinch of salt) and sautee (sorry if my spelling isn't perfect:-)) them slowly in a skillet for about 20 minutes and we eat them with "stampot" that's mashed potatoes with any greens.
Delicious and cheap!
Now I live in the US I have to order them seperately at a butcher and they look at me like I'm trying to be some NY I get them now at the Asian supermarket.
Just wanted to share there's no need for baking porc belly hours and hours....btw, marinate them in your favorite herbs and spices and throw them on the BBQ, curry or ketjap manis (not soy sauce) are great ideas!
Dorothea (Ohio)
P.S. The Dutch word for porc belly slices are "speklapjes"....:-)

Anonymous said...

Hey Chef John,

Don't forget to post the other bacon makin' episodes ;-)

Btw, your website is my favourite on all the inter nets!!!
You could so be asking money for this but I appreciate that you don't (and hope you keep it free!) :-D


Anonymous said...

Yo CJay,
Wasn't this supposed to become a series? Please show us your other attempts as well!


Chef John said...

Yes, but haven't gotten around to it yet! Probably will wait until I can get a smoker for the backyard.

Ricardo said...

Chef john,
I am commenting to remind you of faking making bacon part two. Please. That is my food wish for the moment. Thanks for all the recipes and fun.

pelicangal said...

I found this on Allrecipes and would really love to see part 2. I am going to try your first recipe today with your changes (cut off rind and more salt) Love your food. Thanks

Unknown said...

There's no part 2 :(

Unknown said...

Hi Chef. I've seen a version of this where a guy scored the fat, braised in an oven, then pressed while refrigerating it.

My question is would you recommend scoring and pressing with your method? It wouldn't be bacon but would the skin be crispy and not as tough to eat?