Thursday, March 8, 2018

BAD BACON AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT

      Let's face it: most of us really like great-tasting bacon. With eggs at breakfast; on hamburgers and sandwiches; crumbled on salads, etc. Bacon is one of mankind's most versatile meats.

       But the pressing problem facing most of us is obtaining good bacon. Not only is it extremely over-priced in the stores; but it comes in such poor quality with more fat than meat. Practically the only use for supermarket bacon is rendering it for frying-grease.

        This is an example of what bacon used to look like:



     And what it looks like today:


     The good news is, though, that you have access to a smoker, you don't have to put up with whatever the Agribusiness/Supermarket rackets throw on your plate and call 'bacon' at a whopping $6.11/lb. according to Fox News.

       This method of making bacon was given to me by an executive at a well-known restaurant chain, who asked to remain anonymous. Let's simply say for now that the place has a reputation for excellent bacon.

       From a specialty meat-market, purchase 2 1/2 lbs. of pork belly. Trim the rind from the slab of meat. (If desired, the rinds can be deep-fried. That's how Mexican cooks make their famous chicharrones). Rub the meat well with a mixture of 1/4 c. coarse salt, 4tbsps. of brown sugar, and 1/3 c. maple syrup. Stuff the meat into a large freezer-bag and add the rest of the rub. Seal the bag and let it rest on a metal plate for 6 days, turning daily. 

       Afterwards, rinse the meat slab; blot dry and return it to the refrigerator for 24 more hours. When a 'skin' begins to form, preheat your smoker to 175 Fahrenheit; with your choice of good hardwood chips. For bacon; applewood, hickory, and cherry are the most preferred. Smoke it for 2-3 hours or until it reaches an internal temperature of 150 F. 

       Let the slab cool on a wire-rack and refrigerate overnight. It is now ready and may be sliced to desired thickness. This is an example of what you'll have:


      Bacon made this way has a shelf-life of about a week and a half, but odds are it won't last that long. It can, however, be frozen or canned. 

       Like all long-prep time foods, it's best to have a slab 'in rotation' for when the other runs out. Once you start making it yourself, you'll forget about the ersatz stuff in the store. 

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