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Makin' bacon — and making sardines palatable

March 16, 2009 |  6:32 pm

CharcuterieTimes staff writer Jason Song's piece last week about taking on the Food Stamp Challenge was a hit with readers — it was one of the most viewed and e-mailed stories of the week — and generated plenty of reader e-mail. Almost all of it asked Jason about his recipe for making bacon. Here's Jason's response:

Since many readers have asked for the homemade bacon recipe, here it is, adapted from “Charcuterie” by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn:

5 pounds of pork belly, skin on

The cure

2 ounces (50 grams) of kosher salt (about ¼ cup)

2 teaspoons (12 grams) pink salt (a preservative, not the Hawaiian kind. It’s available via mail order or from specialty stores like Nicole’s in South Pasadena)

¼ cup (50 grams) maple sugar or packed dark brown sugar

¼ cup (60 milliliters) maple syrup

Mix the dry cure ingredients together, then add syrup. Rub the mixture over the meat and put it skin side down in a plastic bag slightly bigger than the meat and put it in the refrigerator for a week. Turn it over every day. Remove the meat from the bag and rinse clean, then pat dry. Put it back into the refrigerator on a rack over a baking sheet and let it dry for 12 to 24 hours. Smoke until it reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees. Remove the skin while the meat is hot. (Discard skin, or cut into pieces and save for other uses.) Let the bacon cool, then wrap in plastic and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

I happen to have a smoker, but if you don’t have one, you can bake the meat at low heat.

I buy my pork belly at 99 Ranch where it’s frozen and is pretty cheap. The meat can be a bit fatty, but it is pork belly, so what do you expect.

You can also mail-order meat from places like Heritage Foods, http://www.heritagefoodsusa.com/, which has a variety of pork breeds. I’ve had Heritage Farm pork belly and while it’s expensive — $85 for 9 pounds — it’s amazing.

During the Food Challenge I also ate a lot of sardines because I read a book called “Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood” by Taras Grescoe. Sardines are cheap and good for you and the environment. I would put them on fresh baked bread, but my wife refused to eat them.

Photo credit: Courtesy of W.W. Norton & Co.

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