Makin’ Bacon – And Other Things

Somehow I got onto charcuterie.  I ate some in Sacramento on a recent trip at The Grange.  It was “house made”.   I wanted to make my own.  Next I came across a web site to teach me and inspire me.  The site is Mrs. Wheelbarrow.  That site started something called “Charcutepalooza”. Each month they put out a challenge.  In January it was to make duck breast prosciutto.  I ordered a duck breast, followed directions and it is now hanging my garage.  Should be ready to eat any day now.

Hanging Duck Breast for Prosciutto

The Duck Breast

That’s it, wrapped in cheesecloth and hanging from a string.  Being a male I had to assemble a few pieces of equipment and tools.  I found the refrigerator at the Ventura Swap Meet for $20.  I got the meat slicer at Goodwill for $12.99.  The thing hanging on the side is a temperature regulator.  The sensor is inside and I can set the temperature of the box to 60 degrees if I want.  Usually refrigerators won’t go that high.  Drying and curing the meat needs a temperature between 50 and 60 degrees.  I also will hook up a humidifier and gauge to keep the humidity about 60% by a similar system.  I’ll be able to control those two variables all year round.

The February challenge from Charcutepalooza is to make bacon and/or pancetta.

Hog Belly

As luck would have it I went to a vintage photo show in the Helms Bakery and had some time to kill so I shopped at Surfas just down the block.  They had a frozen pork belly and the pink salt I also needed.  I got 6 pounds.  That was more than I needed but it was the same price as 3 pounds shipped UPS in those cold cartons.

The Belly Sliced

I sliced the thawed belly into three portions.  The ends will be come bacon and the square middle will become pancetta.

Salt

I dredged the slab in the dry cure of  Kosher salt, sugar and pink salt.

The Wait

I put each slab into a 2.5 gal. freezer bag and into the refrigerator for a week.  I’ll turn it daily.

What will happen next?

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About John

John Nichols is owner of John Nichols Gallery in downtown Santa Paula, Calif. Since 1984. Vintage, vernacular and contemporary photography and art services
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