Today’s post is from the sweet Lucy at OffallyGood. In the last year, Lucy has been investigating the extent and impact of meat consumption, and all the issues surrounding eating meat ethically. She has, in fact, spent most of this year eating offal in place of more standard cuts of meat, and creating new and interesting recipes with it. She also cooked a whole pig’s head once. He was called Arthur. She is also consuming the correct amount of fruit and veg as any health-conscious adult should, and is at the time of writing starting to learn about sustainable fish: what kinds they are, where the acceptable fishing spots are round the world and other factors that you or I might never think about. She is also a Superhero Numismatist and as such is extraordinarily busy. I”m really grateful that she would take time out to write me this guest post, and would encourage you to pop over to OffallyGood when you’re done here.
Thanks for letting me guest-post, CA, I will mostly be discussing how to cure your own bacon at home…
Curing your own bacon
There! I said it. The B-word. Bacon.
This year of 2012, I took it upon myself to exclude regular and ordinary meat from my diet, in order to relieve my holistic meat debt. Too many chicken breasts had been chomped and too many pork chops over-grilled. Now was time to get friendly with the kidney and love the liver. Great fun and full of interesting ethical dilemmas. But no bacon. Not a single rasher.
So I did what any sane and sensible person would do after nine months baconless. I cracked. And cured my own pork belly into an imitation of streaky bacon. More like pancetta really.
The inspiration from this came from the blog Plate Britain, where the unenviable task is to eat only things grown on these shores for a year. British bacon a-go-go! I couldn’t believe how easy it sounded, so took it upon myself to have a go. The results were awesome (isn’t all bacon awesome), but I feel I still undertook it in a pretty sensible and boundary-flexing manner.
First of all to the belly pork. It was reduced in the shop and I intended to freeze it for when I can be all meaty again. But, then, bacon. One of the farms that produces this very Waitrose pork is in Norfolk near where my Mum lives and the pigs do look very happy in the fields, so I didn’t have a conscience about buying it. It may not be organic, but I have definitely seen the pigs playing kiss chase in the field.
Curing meat is it appears kind of easy. Mostly you rub it with salt repeatedly. It is the making of the cure that turns belly pork into something spectacular!
Do look at Plate Britain’s recipe because I amended it to suit the ingredients I had. My cure was made up of:
- 350g salt (the cheap stuff)
- 150g granulated white sugar
- 10g agnus castus spice crushed in a pestle and mortar
- Several sprigs of lovage, ripped up, with some rosemary too.
It looked like this:
Basically what you then do is coat it in the cure every day. Keep it in a Tupperware in a cool dark place – I used the fridge. The cure makes a lot of liquid leak out the meat, so you need to tip that away when you re-cure the meat each day. I cured my belly for seven days. Then you wash the remains of the cure off and you have bacon. Pretty salty bacon. Pretty delicious bacon. If you have cure left that hasn’t touched the meat, keep it for next time you get down on the curing!
Doesn’t that look effing amazing? And it is sooooooooo simple to do. I chose lovage, because I love it and am super proud of the plant in my garden. I chose agnus castus (chasteberry) seeds because they taste like a fruity black pepper. Mostly they were both chosen because they are new herbs to me. I am a sucker for novelty.
I was soooooo excited for the bacon, I had a fry up! I put maple syrup on the bacon. Heaven!
Even better, however, was the toad in the hole I made with the bacon cubes in.
I even did a decadent thing and just fried some and mixed it with some olives and cheese! So salty! So good!
However, flushed after my baconing success, I did feel a bit bad. The idea was offal for a year, and despite my best ethical endeavours – it was really a little bit of a cheat. However, I do now know how easy it is to cure stuff. Could you cure a kidney do you think? I might do some experimenting, so keep checking OffallyGood.
Making bacon is really easy, so next time you go to the overpriced pancetta, pick up some belly pork and have a go at home. FYI when it fried NONE of that suspicious white shiz came out! What does that tell you?
Thank you Lucy – it has taken me twice as long as it should to upload this post because I just kept looking at the photo of the cured bacon. Amazing, and you do make it sound easy. Really well done pet, and I cannot wait to see you soon and chat about all things food and drink several drinks. Huge bacony love x