We finally got around to curing and smoking one of the pork bellies from Patty Pig. With the recent fad for all things bacon, plus the on-going interest in artisan and homegrown food, there is a sometimes-confusing wealth of information online about making bacon.
The first step is curing, which can be done ‘wet’, with a brine, or ‘dry’, with a rub. Brine curing is how most commercial bacon is made, often pumped full of water and flavoring which helps retailers sell an inferior product for a higher price. Here’s a rather icky video detailing the process for pre-cooked ‘convenience’ bacon:
Here are the sites we used for inspiration for the herb-pepper, maple, and honey flavors we tried:
Our bacon turned out very flavorful, but too salty. From what we’ve read, makin’ bacon is very much a trial & error kind of thing, so we’ll be trying more variations soon. Another variable is that home-raised pork can have thinner bellies and need less cure time. There is still the option of soaking our bacon in ice water to leach out some of the salt, much like salt pork or beef was dealt with back in the Age of Sail in the British Navy. Usually this is done before smoking, but we’ll give it a try and report back in another post. Our ‘salt pork’ has been excellent in soup and crumbled into scrambled eggs so far, with each variety very tasty. We’ll probably smoke it a bit longer next time too.
Next up on the smoker-agenda is brined, smoked beef tongue, and pork spare ribs. And since we have a freezer full of beef suet & pig lard, and have been immersed in the world of Jack Aubrey, we’ll be making Spotted Dick pudding soon, and Cornish Pasties. Yum!
While the hours-long smoking was underway, a Hairy Woodpecker was poking around the base of a native willow snag left standing in the back corner of our lot. It normally parks on the black-oil sunflower seed feeder, pecking at it as if it were a tree. Maybe it wanted a change of diet, or maybe just an excuse to see what all the smoke & fuss was about. If you’re interested in Washington State birds, or trying to identify one, be sure to check out Bird Web. It’s our go-to reference for Seven Trees’ avian visitors.