Friday, May 31, 2013

My first successful cured meat

Who doesn't like bacon?  Our freezer is packed full of pork; at least 250 lbs of it.  Instead of having the butcher slice the pork belly and sides we decided to try curing it and make bacon.  As you may remember, my duck and goat prosciuttos were a bit disappointing so I was a bit nervous about attempting this since it involved at least 12 to 15 lbs of meat. 

I got out my trusty book, Charcuterie, The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing, by Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn, given to me by some good friends.  I think I owe them some bacon.    I followed the instructions pretty closely but it gives you some leeway on spices you may want to add.  I won't go into detail but what it entailed was heavily salting the meat and adding brown sugar or maple syrup and other spices and sealing it up in a bag and refrigerating it for a week, turning it every other day.  After it felt firm I rinsed it off and took a deep breath.  So far it looked pretty good.
 At this point I could have put it in a 200 degree oven for 2 hours, slice it and call it done but I wanted to go all the way and smoke it too.

James split some apple wood for me and I started a small fire in the pizza oven.   After it had cooked down a ways the oven temperature varied from floor to wall to ceiling so I had no idea if it was too hot or not.  I took a chance and put the pork in the oven on racks and closed the oven up tight so the chimney was closed off and the smoke stayed in the dome. 
The meat needed to reach an internal temperature of 150 degrees.  That took about 2 1/2 hours.  Every now and then I'd open the chimney a little bit to produce some more smoke.
When I announced it done I sliced some of it.  It was a lot of work since we don't have a meat slicer.  I did about half and put the rest in the freezer to firm up a bit, hoping to make it a little easier to slice.
It's definitely sliced thicker than what you'd get at the grocery store but I had much more satisfaction eating our own bacon for dinner last night knowing we raised and prepared it ourselves.  It's quite tasty and definitely has a smokey flavor.  Yay, finally a success!
Our lawn mower has been in the shop for 2 weeks and our grass is shin high.  As I type this my wonderful neighbor is out cutting it for me.  I owe him.  Maybe I'll pay him in bacon.

On a sad note, something got our ducks last night.   We really liked these two so it's very disappointing. 


  1. Yay! Looks delicious!!! I'm so sorry to hear about the duckies. :(

  2. Poor ducks,something got mine too....Mike