Matt had a hard task ahead of him: Ten hours of labor taking the front of the tractor off, replacing a $12 gasket, then ten hours of labor putting the gasket back on.
I thought that the best way to thank Matt for a really grungy, fiddly job would be to finally make a big pork belly from the freezer into bacon. The belly weighed ten pounds, so I cut it into thirds for easier handling and to adhere to the recipe suggestions.
I tried a recipe from The Spruce, which has generally been a decent source of recipes for me that aren’t to fussy or involved. I read the bacon recipe over three times and decided it seemed about right.
I rinsed the bacon and applied the pepper/salt/pink salt/sugar mixture. Dutifully turning the bacon daily helped ensure a complete cure. After ten days, I was ready to try some bacon.
This is where things went a bit awry: I washed the first third of the bacon but didn’t soak it. I smoked it on the grill, sliced off a few bits and tried it.
BLECHCH. It was far too salty and some of the fat had a weird fishy flavor. I spent a bit of time troubleshooting, and came to find that I had not rinsed away enough of the original cure. So I rinsed the rest of that chunk and soon we had much more edible bacon.
The second two chunks were more thoroughly rinsed, and I am happy to report that they were delicious. The meat is tighter and a little tougher than grocery store bacon. The smokey flavor tastes stronger and more authentic. The bacon is overall less “canned” seeming. It’s less perfectly uniform. The only downside? I can’t achieve the thin slices that a machine will do. Oh well.
I would certainly make bacon again.