Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Let this be a measure of my wife's dedication to the cause of.... bacon.

A few weeks ago we picked up half of a 259 pound farm raised hog from a friend of a friend. We met at the butcher and collected Frey's bounty -- almost 100 pounds of delicious pork chops, ribs, ham steaks, shoulder, jowl fat, fatback... and the prize... hog belly.

Hog belly, the raw material of the finest food in all of the world: BACON.

Now the slaughterhouse would cure it and smoke it for us and then sell it back to me for $3 a pound. SCREW THAT. I got a copy of Micheal Ruhlman's Charcuterie from our local library and read up. Ordered a pound of curing salt from http://butcher-packer.com -- cost, $7. Curing salt is a pink dyed salt that contains 6% nitrite. OOOO evil nitrites! HEY HIPPIE, go to Whole Foods. Read the ingredients in all of that Nitrite-free bacon. Hmmm... celery juice concentrate? Gee, I wonder what that's that in there for? Celery juice is a natural source of guess what... Nitrite. I'd rather know what I'm getting. Besides, you use two ounces of pink salt to a pound of kosher salt and a half pound of sugar to make the cure and then probably about 4 tablespoons of the cure to cure an entire half belly.

Anyhow, I applied the evil chemical gleefully, let the sucker sit in 2.5 gallon ziplocks in my fridge for a week, then washed it, dried it, and let it air dry in the fridge for a few days. Last night I fried up a little of it, unsmoked cured bacon. Holy shit. Delicious beyond all words. So today I was planning to smoke it -- I even borrowed an electric smoker from a friend. But by nine am it was pouring buckets of cold miserable rain. Bad day for an electric smoker. But I work tomorrow and Thursdays are busy with playgroup and besides, I didn't want the bacon sitting in the fridge for two more days. I had decided to just oven roast it to 150' and hell with it, it's delicious as it is anyhow.

My wife's suggestion? Smoke it in the sunroom with the windows open and the door to the house shut! A grown woman, a mother and a wife just sanctioned setting up an electric smoker with cherry wood and hickory to smoke bacon... INDOORS. That's how much she digs the swine.

So who am I to argue? I put a fan in the window, sealed off that room from the rest of the house, opened the windows, put an old cutting board under the smoker to avoid damaging the floors, and three hours later, the sunroom smells of hickory smoke... quite nice... and I have 15 pounds of 100% home made cherry-hickory smoked bacon.