Yesterday I wasn't playing games that involve throwing two little plastic pigs but really making bacon. And oh wow....Sooo good!
We use a lot of apple wood in the fire which K cuts with a chainsaw which means lots of chunky sawdust. I've been playing around with this in the pizza oven smoking things. Started off really easy with wieners- precooked sausages, can't go wrong and kill everyone that way, right?
I've moved on to chicken breasts and while it's fun and tastes good I haven't really been wowed by it.
I was talking to one of my students about it and found out she makes her own bacon.
Bacon, hmmm?? Real bacon? With flavour? That I could slice more than wafer thin? Yup, sign me up!
I had never thought about making bacon and I'm sure that even if I had I wouldn't have imagined it would have been in a gorgeous apartment on the 7th floor of Matsumoto's ritziest building- complete with fulltime front desk guy and three different security codes to get into your rooms- No unwanted salespeople for S!
Anyway, the bacon. It's so deceptively easy and tastes so amazing I have to share. It's practically a community service- saving you all from that pink, watery, pretend bacon...
Take 500 grams of pork belly (or a lot more and just multiply the recipe accordingly) oh and if you're like me nad had no idea what pork belly is it's bara-niku. Should have worked that out from the kanji but the only thing I associate with pork bellies is the American stock exchange....
Anyway, take your meat and put it in a ziplock bag. (I'm sure there are more environmentally friendly ways of doing this but I'm just passing on the recipe as it was told to me)
Add 1 heaped tablespoon of salt, same of sugar, a bay leaf, a few pepper corns, any left over onion slices or carrot or celery you have around and push all the air out and seal the bag.
Leave in the fridge for three days. (That's the hard part....)
While waiting get a heavy bottomed saucepan and cover the bottom of it with tinfoil all the way up the sides and over the lip of the pan. Then cover the inside of the lid with foil and go over the lip of the lid too. Put about a cup of smoking chips in the bottom of the pan (home centre's sell them if you live in swanky apartments without woodpiles and chainsaws...) and put a cake rack over the whole thing.
(That step's a bit fiddly but hey- you have three days to get it right...)
On day three remove the meat from the fridge, remove any herbs/ veggies stuck to your meat and place on cake rack in tinfoiled pot. Cover with tinfoiled lid and push down. The double layer of tinfoil should make an airtight seal.
On medium heat smoke for 35- 40 minutes. If you can refrain from opening the lid and 'just checking' there won't be any smoke- not even a wisp and you will be perfectly able to make your own amazing bacon even in a swanky apartment!
The finished product is unlike store bacon in that it's pretty much cooked (it also has flavour and is not watery but...) At first I was disappointed as it didn't look like how I thought bacon should look but one bite and I'm a convert! And it being cooked? Well there's so much fat on a pork belly you can still grill up your bacon anyway. And it's versatile- make's a great char sieu like topping for ramen to boot.
i may never get a job as photographer for the meat industry but that's ok, I'll be too busy eating bacon anyway!