|Features - The Craft of Cooking|
|Written by Jon Ross-Wiley|
The Boston Local Food Festival was amazing yesterday! Terrific energy all around, and the vendor selection was unbelievable. At the Local In Season Do-It-Yourself Demo Booth, we sponsored three demos which included vermicomposting, making a garden in a potato sack, and an awesome live cooking demo from LIS contributing writer, Kate Demase! Patrick and I also shared the "how-tos" of dehydrating apples, sun-drying tomatoes, building root cellar, and making your own bacon. Thanks to all who attended demos.
The bacon demo was quite popular, so I wanted to post the recap here on LIS. I loved talking about my favorite food, and hope you try this at home...you'll be so glad you did!
Here are the basics:
Mix your dry cure:
1 pound kosher salt
8 ounces sugar
2 ounces pink salt
Note: This will give you enough cure to a last awhile, so store what you don't use in an air-tight container.
Cure the pork belly:
Your butcher should be able to provide you with a 5-8 lb. belly, and you will want to cut the belly in half (width-wise) so that it will fit into standard large re-sealable bags. Rub the belly generously with the dry cure and place in the bag. Seal well, and store in the refrigerator for 7-10 days, flipping the bags once a day to redistribute the cure.
After seven days, check the belly; it should be firm to the touch. If not, let the belly cure for an additional day or two.
Once you are done with the curing process, remove the bellies from their bags and rinse off the cure. Pat dry and lay flat in a large baking dish (pictured, left) or a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Place in the refrigerator, uncovered, for 24-hours. This part of the process builds up what is called a 'pellicle". This is a tacky layer on the outside of the belly that will allow the smoking in the next step to really take.
Smoke the pork belly:
Soak applewood chips--or other hardwood chips such as hickory--(enough to fill a smoker box) in water for an hour.
Place chips in the smoker box. These boxes can be purchased at many hardware stores for around $8.
Light the gas or charcoal (all charcoal on one side) grill and place the smoker box over the lit side and the pork belly on the side that is not lit. Ideally, you will want your grill, when cover is closed, to maintain a temperature of around 200 degrees F. Smoke for 3 hours or until internal temperature of the pork belly reaches 150 degrees F.
Let the pork belly cool and place in the freezer for 2 hours to make it firm enough to slice thinly.