Life has been busy. I'm in San Jose with Jay Lake for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America's annual gathering at which they give out the Nebula awards for the best fiction in a number of categories. Jay is nominated for a novella called "The Stars do not Lie."
So, instead of cooking things and writing about it, I'm rubbing elbows with some amazing writers. For a sapiosexual person like myself, it's wildly exciting to be around so many smart people.
But the beat goes on and write I must. Bacon. Bacon? Bacon!
I made my first batch of bacon a few weeks ago. And I love it! I'm hooked. I cured it in sugar, salt, coriander and ginger. Wow.
For a guide, I went directly to Ruhlman.
I'm somewhat late coming to the party in a number of culinary areas. I think I'm the last of my cohort to make bacon. But, since I'm not breaking new ground, there are lots of people I can go to for advice or assistance.
Anyhoo, the process is simple. Make a cure, spread it on pork belly, wrap tightly and cure for one week.
Rinse the cure off the belly and air-dry in the cooler for a day. Slice and enjoy.
Ginger and coriander cured bacon
1-1/2 pounds pork belly
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp and 1tsp sea salt of Kosher salt
2 Tbsp coriander, freshly ground
Pinch of hot pepper flakes
Combine ingredients, pack onto the belly, wrap in plastic, place the plastic-wrapped bacon in a bag and refrigerate it for one week.
After one week, rinse off the cure and dry the bacon in the cooler for a day or so.
Slice, fry and enjoy.
The first batch was hella salty so I blanched it for five minutes. The second batch was good (no, it was fabulously flavorful -- sweet and briney) but it lacked that essential bite that makes bacon taste like bacon and not a salty, fatty pork chop.
The answer is adding a tiny amount -- less than a quarter teaspoon -- of pink salt,* AKA curing salt or Prague Powder. It's table salt and sodium nitrite. Yes, evil sodium nitrite. It's difficult to make bacon without it.
I'm so excited about my bacon experiments that I'm going to use the rest of the belly -- three, two-pound portions -- into bacon. Then buy another belly.
The next batch I'll make is garlic and thyme cured bacon. It's Jay's idea and it seems like a no brainer. Garlic bacon? What could be better. If it works, I'll make him the the only thing he's (realistically) asked me to make that I've avoided. Bacon sausage.
So. For now, I party in San Jose, and dream of bacon.
* Not to be confused with Himalayan pink salt, a naturally occurring salt that is pink in color.
(I miss you Tribe, see ya soon)