Wednesday, August 8, 2012

When The Student Is Ready

When I decided to try making my own bacon, I enlisted the help of that well-known bacon lover and newbie mentor, Chilebrown. He coached me through my first attempt, patiently answering my many questions and giving freely of his long expertise.

The curing salt that I used, Pig Salt Spice Company brand that Chilebrown gave me, was composed of brown sugar, Kosher sea salt, sage, garlic, onion, and Prague salt (pink salt). The Prague salt adds nitrates to the bacon to retard spoilage; the rest are there as flavoring. Chilebrown informs me that I didn't need the Prague salt, as I was using a hot smoke - only cold smoking really needs the Prague salt. Next time, I'll leave out the Prague salt.

I only had to pour off the juices accumulating in the pan once. After a week in the fridge, I rinsed the belly and soaked it in two changes of water for half an hour each to remove most of the salt, since we like lightly salted bacon, dried it and put it back in the fridge on a rack for 24 hours to form the mysterious pellicle. In bacon lore, that means the surface dries out a bit, allowing the smoke to stick to the meat.

I used hot smoking technique on his recommendation, and it worked a treat. I loaded up the Weber grill with a pan of water one one side and coals on the other side and first cooked our lamb roast for dinner while the coals were hot and then, when they were cooler, put the bacon over the water in place of the lamb, added the smoking chips, and covered the grill.

The smoking was immediate and intense, with big, billowing clouds of white smoke wafting away on the wind. The temperature of the Weber stayed low (as advised by my teacher) and in about 45 minutes the temperature of the belly had risen to 150 degrees.  

Here's the result. Smoked bacon!  

I removed it, let it cool, and sliced it with my electric slicer into perfect, thick rashers. We fried up the end pieces right away, unable to wait for an actual meal, and found them to be lightly salty, very lightly sweet, with the perfect amount of smoke. Delicious!  And I did it myself!

There is an old Zen saying: When the student is ready, the teacher appears. My Sensei appeared in the form of Chilebrown.  Thanks, Sensei, you're the best.


Blogger Chilebrown said...


Wednesday, August 08, 2012  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Congratulations! Good job, Grasshopper.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012  
Blogger namastenancy said...

The sensi had a good student. Yes, good job Grasshopper.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Chilebrown, in the Olympics, the gymnast Allie removed her gold medal and hung it over her coach's neck after the ceremony. If I had a gold medal, I'd hang it over your neck.

Cookiecrumb, hah, did you watch that show?

Nancy, another devotee of Kung Fu heard from!

Thursday, August 09, 2012  
Blogger Greg said...

Bacon Good!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Greg, yes, bacon 'way good!

Thursday, August 16, 2012  

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