Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bacon Hubris

I really try not to boast.
Sometimes I will be proud of something I've cooked, and say "It was tasty!"
Just as often, I'm willing to admit when a dish goes wrong, or is only so-so.
I'll say whether or not I'm intimidated by a technique. If it's easy, I'll let you know. If it's hard, well, I probably didn't even attempt it.
But homemade bacon?
See, I just knew I was going to give it a go, but after we bought the pork bellies I got nervous and stashed them in the freezer for a few months.
Cranky needed some freezer space, and said, basically, "When are we gonna do this? Now?"
I got out my copy of "Charcuterie" by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. Believe me, I had read and reread the recipe before. Now it was time to put up or shut up.
Dang, it was easy. Trust me.
You blend some curing mixture (nothing more than sugar, salt and pink salt). Pat the proper amount all over the bellies. (Proper amount! Take note.) Pop 'em into plastic bags in the fridge for a week... and then...
Wow, you smoke 'em! For two whole hours, at 200ºF. (If you don't have a smoker, you can cook them smokelessly in the oven.)
This was the amazing part. Who knew that the little slices of raw bacon we casually fry up had already been cooked? Not I, said the little red Cookiecrumb.
It was stupendously successful.
It tastes like bacon. Not too salty, the way some of y'all's attempts seem to be (we really rinsed off the curing mixture, really well). It tastes sweet, porky, a little smoke, not too much salt... Aw, nuts. It tastes like bacon.
The best bacon I've ever tasted.
So, to all those other bacon fakers: As my man Jimmy Buffett said, "I’m gonna run every goddamn one of them off the hill!"


peter said...

Atta girl. Next time try monkeying with the cure; you don't need the pink salt, and you can add all sorts of exotic flavors to make it even more orgiastically good.

el said...

Hubris scmubris! You are a rock star!

(I have been stockpiling apple wood for the very same purpose. We get our pig in Sept.)

Dagny said...

How soon before you start taking orders for bacon? ;-)

Nikki Miller-Ka said...

This is hot. For real. TCM scares me, so I'll leaving the bacon makin' to you. So are you going to be making your own bacon from now on?

I have my own smoker, maybe I'll try this too. What kind of chips did you use? I used some alder the other day to smoke some stuff and I wanted to kill myself, it all tasted so bad.

kudzu said...


Even when you repeat how easy it was -- it's a wonder.

Great exposition, too.

Anonymous said...


Great blog kid.

Glad to see a belly being treated, well, like a belly should. Good work. Frufrued and oven baked is such a shame........

More dark brown sugar and less salt will make a better tasteing fried slice, but it burns easier than a salty one, and must be fried slower.

If your takin' it over to Biggles to cold smoke for 2 days, better keep the Nitrite. Otherwise 2 hours at 200 deg you can indeed leave it out. You wont miss it.

Try a Stout and Treacle (beer and molassas in American) cure with some fatty pork loin. It will change your idea of bacon forever.

Mary Coleman said...

You are just amazing. First the bread and now the bacon.

dancingmorganmouse said...

Bacon, my favourite fruit! And I'll bet it cooked beautifully because it wasn't pumped full of water like most shop bought stuff.

Chilebrown said...

You deserve to boast! I think you may have a little Madness in You! Well done,Bravissimo,You are Gold Medal in my World!!!. Why don't they have a Bakin Smokin Event at the Olympics?
Did you hear that Ms. Goofy,Dr.Biggles and I are going to be judges at the Tomato Festival in Fairfield. Hope to see you there.

cookiecrumb said...

Peter: I'm inspired to experiment, now that the basic recipe worked so well. Or I'm scared to experiment, since the basic recipe worked so well.
Good to see you again.

El: Apple wood! You yuppie. I didn't even think of that. We just used good ol' hickory. And Good Luck with your pig! I am thrilled for you. Wow.

Dagny: I should set up a bacon and lemonade stand!!

Nikki: Don't fear the belly. You already trust your smoker. I wanna hear about your results, so GO!

Kudzu: That was the nicest thing I ever heard! xxx
BTW, it IS that easy. Just a leap of faith.

Salvage: Salvage is here! (He's Biggles's advisor.)
I'm very happy to hear your suggestions. I will attempt some innovation on your recommendation. I'm thinking bourbon. Awesome. Erm. We'll see.

Mary: Lissen, the bread was a lot scarier than the bacon. I'm still forcing myself to do the bread every week, but this bacon is a cakewalk. (Mixing of metaphors. Hmph.)

Morgan: Yeah, no puffy liquidiness (unless I do the bourbon thing). It's basic, and perfect.

ChileBrown: Yeah, I heard about your judge-i-ness! Awesome, congratulations.
I'm as impressed with myself about the bacon as you are. I'm especially pleased to get YOUR bravos, coming from you.

Zoomie said...

I bow to your raw courage! As the Youth would say, "you totally rock, man!"

Anna Haight said...

Bravo Cookiecrumb! You go where few dare go and before!

marcyincny said...

Glad to see other folks makin' bacon. I got my pancetta from Niman Ranch but they stopped making it last year so in order to have pancetta from pastured pigs I finally made my own with a great recipe from Chow.com.
You're right; it's easy and it tastes great!

ntsc said...

I assume you used the maple recipe. This week I'm doing both the maple and the savory bacons, smoked over hickory. I was going to do a pastrami as well but my wife pre-empted the brisket for Sunday dinner.

You don't need the pink salt for hot smoking, but it does add to the color. Considering the preservatives that get added to a typical store bought sausage/bacon/whatever I don't worry about that amount of pink salt.

Kevin said...

You gotta do pancetta next.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your Blog off and on, and although I don't always agree with your political stance, I love your stance on FOOD. I consider myself a food snob, and many other people consider me as such as well.
I am inspired by your bacon. Unfortunately, where I live, there is next to nothing for quality meat purveyors, unless you wish to risk your life by going into what we call Little Vietnam (really dangerous part of town known for gang stuff).
Thanks for taking your time to chronicle your life as a fellow food snob.

Greg said...

ribs and now bacon wow! I feel like another vegetarian in the making has returned to the fold :)

cookiecrumb said...

Zoomie: Thank you, and yet, once you do it you say to yourself "What was so brave about that?"

Anna: Keep your eyes out for a home bacon revolution. I'm not the only one!

Marcy: Yahoo! Good for you. I'll try pancetta next. (Kevin wants me to.) ;)

ntsc: Spoken like a pro. So that's three experienced votes against pink salt (but since I already mixed up a jar of cure, I'll just finish it and not worry about the nitrites).
BTW, it was not the maple recipe. Just pure, porky bacon.
Pastrami! Whoo.

Kevin: Yes, I do! Pictures of your pancetta still haunt me.

Anonymous: We can still break bread and not talk politics, eh? I wonder if you might be able to get some really decent pork belly online, shipped on ice overnight. It might change your life!

Greg: We're having vegetables for lunch today. I really waver, but I've never stopped being an omnivore. :)

Lannae said...

Cookie, I am so impressed. You make it sound so easy. I want bacon now. So, did you put the whole belly in the smoker, then when you were done smoking, how did you cut the bacon? Do you have a meat slicer, electric knife, or hand knife? We have a big Tennessee sized smoker, and I bet we can a lot of belly at a time.

OK, so did you have the ultimate locally made BLT? huh? mmm yum?

cookiecrumb said...

Lannae: You smoke the intact belly. Then you refrigerate it. And then you slice it, with really nothing more fancy than a chef's knife. As thick as you want (drool).
And... TOTALLY blt. We've had two of them now. Summer produce, homemade bread, that DAMN bacon. Yah!

Moonbear said...

Nice work! I can't believe some of the things you are cooking.

tammy said...

My hero, as usual!

leena! said...

This looks amazing, and actually gives me some confidence to make it myself. Don't you love recipes that look totally scary but turn out to be super simple? Thanks for the inspiration--now I just need a smoker!

Oh, and if you wanted to make a bacon apple pie with some of that bacon, I wouldn't mind. I'm just saying.

cookiecrumb said...

Moonbear: Bacon is the vegetarian's gateway drug.
Now we have a whole tree's worth of pears and another one of plums to deal with, so stay tuned.

Tammy: I'm thinking we'll never have to buy bacon again. But we'll have to buy pork bellies.

Leena: Bacon apple pie! Yow. Why not? I make my crusts with lard anyway.

Sam said...


Rev. Biggles said...


Sorry ain't been around for a bit, been lazy, then went camping.

Yeah, we'll have to do a group bacon smoking here pretty soon. I think I could probably smoke 8 or 9 10 pound slabs of bacon at once. Smoke at 90 to 110 or so for 2 days!

I can hardly wait.


Dagny said...

Not lemonade. A bacon and pear stand.

Sweet Bird said...

This makes me want a smoker so bad. Jebus I love bacon...

cookiecrumb said...

Sam: You're impressed. Snicker. Makes my day.

Biggles: Ooh, cold smoking. Scary. OK, well, I'll use the nitrites. Wouldn't that be the awesomest party? Dippy old Cookiecrumb gets to hang out with the meat boys. Kinda like a quilting bee, but manlier.

Dagny: D'oh! What was I thinking?

Sweet Bird: You have a back yard. A smoker is not expensive. Do it!

katiez said...

I think I now understand why there is active market trading in pork bellies.
How could you ever go back?
I'm not even going to mention the poor excuse for bacon here... We do have good ham, though... Does that count? Sort of?

cookiecrumb said...

KatieZ: Well, hellyeah, ham counts. You're in Europe!
I know you must miss good bacon. Can you try this?