Making More Bacon

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Our local Mega-Mongo-Mart had a sale on full pork loins, so I decided to cure a couple and replenish our dwindling supply of Canadian-style bacon.

Ingredients

2 boneless pork loins (8 to 10 pounds each)
1 tablespoon Morton Sugar Cure (Plain) per pound of loin
1 teaspoon white sugar per pound of loin
2 tablespoon black pepper, ground
1 tablespoon Dizzy Pig Raging River
1 tablespoon Dizzy Pig Red Eye Express
4 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons molasses

Instructions

Trim any excess fat from the pork loins, then cut them in half.

Just to jazz things up a little, I made up 2 batches of cure, one for each loin.

For loin #1:  combine the Morton Sugar Cure, white sugar, brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of the pepper, and Raging River. Mix well. Place 2 of the loin pieces in a large freezer bag and coat with the cure. Rub the cure into the meat, covering all sides. Add the maple syrup, and turn the loins in the bag to distribute it. Squeeze the air out of the bag and seal.

For loin #2:  combine the Morton Sugar Cure, white sugar, brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of the pepper, and Red Eye Express. Mix well. Place 2 of the loin pieces in a large freezer bag and coat with the cure. Rub the cure into the meat, covering all sides. Add the molasses, and turn the loins in the bag to distribute it. Squeeze the air out of the bag and seal.

Place both bags in the refrigerator for 5 days, flipping the meat over once a day. Liquid will begin  to collect in the bag almost immediately, indicating that the cure is working.

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On the 6th day, remove the meat from the cure and soak in cold water for 1-2 hours to remove some of the salt. Dry off the meat and refrigerate uncovered for an hour – this helps the meat dry and form a pellicle, or glaze, to keep moisture in and help hold the smoke.

Set up your grill or smoker up for an indirect cook at 250°F for at least 4 hours. Once the cooker is up to temperature, add your smoking wood (I used pecan for this recipe).

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Put the loins on the grate and cook until the internal temperature of the loin hits 160°F. Remove from the smoker and let cool before cutting into slices. I ran this batch through our food slicer and made both 1/4 inch slices for breakfast as well as some deli-thin ones for pizza topping and sandwiches.

Cottage Bacon

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Cottage bacon (a.k.a. buckboard bacon) is made from cured pork butt, rather than the usual belly meat. It’s a meaty, leaner product that makes great BLTs. After buying some from a local farmer this summer, my dear wife asked if I thought I could make it.

“Sure, but I’ll need a meat slicer.”

“Make me bacon like this and I’ll buy you the slicer.”

“Done!”

Ingredients

2 pork butts (pork shoulder roast), boned and trimmed
1 tablespoon Morton’s Sugar Cure per pound of meat
1 teaspoon white sugar per pound of meat
1/2 cup maple syrup or molasses
1 tablespoon ground black pepper

The Cure

I cured the 2 butts separately. Each went into a FoodSaver bag with 1 tablespoon Morton’s Sugar Cure and 1 teaspoon white sugar per pound of meat (so the 8 pound butt got 1/2 cup cure plus 8 teaspoons sugar, the 6 pound butt got 3/8 cup of cure plus 2 tablespoons of sugar). The smaller butt had a 1/4 cup of molasses added, and the larger one got a 1/4 cup of maple syrup. Both got a 1/2 tablespoon of ground pepper. I made sure to rub the cure into the meat and cover all sides.

I sealed the bags using the partial vacuum option (I only pulled out about half the air to give the cure room to circulate) and stored them in the refrigerator. After the first day, liquid began to collect in the bags, indicating  that the cure was working. I cured them for 7 days, flipping the meat over once a day.

After 7 days, I removed the meat from the cure and soaked in cold water for 3 hours to remove some of the salt. I dried off the meat and let it rest covered in the fridge overnight.

I set the Big Green Egg up for indirect cooking with a plate setter to diffuse the heat and a drip pan to catch the fat. I added a chunk each of apple and hickory for smoke. When the temperature stabilized at 225°F, I put the bacon-to-be on. I smoked them at 225°F for 5 hours until the larger of the 2 hit 140°F internal.

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I pulled the butts, let them cool a little, and stored them in a covered container in the fridge overnight. The next day they met my new Chef’s Choice 610 Electric Food Slicer (thanks, honey).

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In about 5 minutes I turned the 2 butts into a couple of big piles of 1/4 inch slices. Most of it went into quart-sized FoodSaver bags to be frozen for later, but I also loaded up a broiler pan with some for breakfast. I baked it in the oven at 350°F for about 15 minutes a side.

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Crispy, smoky, just a little sweet – like a cross between country ham and belly bacon. Very tasty.

Herbalicious Chicken

This is yet another grilled chicken recipe that really benefits from the marinade. In this case it’s a simple, tangy Argentinean chimichurri that combines herbs, lemon, and garlic to deeply flavor the chicken and keep it moist.

Ingredients
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup fresh basil
1 cup fresh Italian parsley
Juice of 1 large lemon (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
6-8 chicken thighs

Instructions

Put the salt and garlic in a food processor and pulse until the garlic is minced. Add the remaining ingredients, except the chicken, and give them a whirl until they are well-combined.

Put the chicken in a freezer bag and coat with the sauce. Squeeze the air out of the bag and seal. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, overnight is best.

Set your grill up for a direct cook over medium (350°F) heat. I like using a raised grid on the Big Green Egg to help even out the cooking temperatures. Put the chicken on the grill and close the lid. Cook for about 10 minutes, then flip. Flip again every 10 minutes until the thighs hit 180°F internal – about 40 minutes.

Corned Beef & Cabbage

This Irish-American dish appears on many a St. Patrick’s Day table. You can buy pre-seasoned corned beef brisket at most grocery stores,  but I’ve been curing my own for a couple of years now and it’s well worth the effort. While the dish is traditionally braised, I like the firmer texture and greater depth of flavor I get from smoking it a little first.

The Cure

Start with an uncured, trimmed 3-4 pound brisket flat (the bottom portion of the brisket).

Combine all of the following ingredients to make your dry cure:

3 tablespoon  Morton’s Sugar Cure (plain)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons corned beef spices (I like Penzey’s with brown & yellow mustard seeds, coriander, allspice, cracked cassia, dill seed, bay leaves, cloves, China ginger, peppercorns, star anise, juniper, mace, cardamom, red pepper, whew…)

Place brisket in a large freezer bag and coat with the cure. Rub the cure into the meat, covering all sides. Squeeze the air out of the bag and seal. Store in the refrigerator for 5 days, flipping the meat over once a day. Liquid will begin to collect n the bag – this is a good thing as it indicates that the cure is working. Do not drain it off.

On the 6th day, remove the brisket from the cure and rinse under cold water to remove most of the pieces of spice. Then soak the brisket in cold water for 1-2 hours to remove some of the salt. Dry off the meat and season lightly with a little fresh-ground black pepper.

The Smoke

Set up your grill for an indirect cook that will burn for at least 5 hours at between 225 to 250°F. Use a drip pan under the brisket to catch the fat. Add wood for smoke (I like grape vine). Cook at 225°F for about 3 hours, or until the internal temperature of the meat hits 160°F. Remove the brisket from the smoker.

The Braise

1/2 large head green cabbage (about 2 pounds), cut into thick wedges
6 Yukon gold potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds), quartered
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and sliced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
2 bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Place the brisket in a large roasting pan, surround with the remaining ingredients and add enough water to barely cover. Braise in the oven until the vegetables are done and the meat is very tender, about 30 minutes to an hour.

Remove the corned beef and slice thinly across the grain. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a large platter. Lay the sliced meat over vegetables and ladle over with a little of the remaining liquid.

More Canadian-Style Bacon

I’ve been making my own Canadian-style bacon for the past couple of
years. I started out doing it because it was kind of fun and unique (in an old-timey-frontier-kind-of-way) to preserve my own food. But once I
got the hang of it, I realized that it really wasn’t that hard to make
Canadian-style bacon that tasted a lot better than the grocery store
brands at a fraction of the price.

Ingredients

1 boneless pork loin (8 to 10 pounds)
1 tablespoon Morton Sugar Cure (Plain) per pound of loin
1 teaspoon white sugar per pound of loin
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon black pepper, ground
4 tablespoons maple syrup (for glazing)

Instructions

Trim excess fat and remove the silver skin from pork loin. Cut the
loin into two equal pieces.

Combine the Morton Sugar Cure, white sugar, brown sugar, and pepper.
Mix well. This is your dry cure. Place the loin pieces in a large
freezer bag and coat with the cure. Rub the cure into the meat,
covering all sides. Squeeze the air out of the bag and seal. Store in
the refrigerator for 5 days, flipping the meat over once a day. Liquid
will begin to collect in the bag – this indicates that the cure is
working. Do not drain it off.

On the 6th day, remove the meat from the cure and soak in cold water
for 1-2 hours to remove some of the salt. Dry off the meat and
refrigerate uncovered for an hour.

Set up your grill or smoker up for an indirect cook at 225°F for at
least 4 hours. Once the cooker is up to temperature, add your smoking
wood (I like hickory for this recipe). If using a gas grill, place 2-4 cups of soaked wood chunks in
the smoker box. If using a charcoal grill, toss a couple of fist-sized lumps
right into the coals.

Cook at 225°F until the internal temperature of the loin hits 150°F,
about 3 hours. Baste the top side with half the maple syrup. Cook
another 20 minutes, flip and baste the other side with the remaining
syrup. Cook another 20 minutes or until the internal temperature
reaches 160°F

Remove from the smoker and let cool before cutting into 1/8 inch thick
slices.

Smoked Salmon

We usually make up a batch of this recipe for the holidays. The cured salmon makes a great appetizer served on crusty bread spread with a little cream cheese and topped with capers.

1 cup Kosher salt
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
2 Salmon fillets (about 4-5 pounds) Continue reading “Smoked Salmon”

Pork Char Sui

I’ve been wanting to try and duplicate the tasty red pork that we get at our local Chinese restaurant. After doing some research, I decided to start with a 13-pound pork butt (shoulder roast) thinly sliced into strips. Rather than use food coloring to get the usual red color, I went back to the traditional method and cured the pork first. Continue reading “Pork Char Sui”

Bacon – Buckboard and Canadian-style

Bacon

Who doesn’t love bacon? Smokey, salty, crispy – it’s one of the best things to ever happen to a pig. But lately I’ve not been very impressed with the quality of the commercial brands, or the price of the specialty bacon, so I decided to try my hand at making it myself. I wanted something a little leaner than American streaky bacon, so I started with a small 7-pound pork butt (shoulder roast) and a 5-pound loin instead of the more traditional belly meat.

First I needed to cure the meat. I went with a combination of a 1/2 cup plain white sugar and a 1/2 cup Morton’s Sugar Cure. This made up the dry cure. I put the butt and loin into their own large freezer bags and coated them with two tablespoons of the dry cure for each pound of meat – so the butt got 14 tablespoons and the loin got 10.

Continue reading “Bacon – Buckboard and Canadian-style”