|Britain's next top model?|
As I was saying you need a fairly large and preferably boneless piece of pork belly. There are usually a few small bones, but get the butcher to take them out (or do it yourself, which isn't difficult). You then need to assemble the ingredients for the cure. This will be dry cure bacon and obviously the main ingredient is salt, but you can add a few bits and pieces for some extra flavour. Here I followed Sir Hugh F-W's advice in The River Cottage Meat Book, where he adds bay leaves, juniper berries and brown sugar. As far as quantities go, for a 1.2kg piece of meat I put together a cure consisting of:
75g Brown Sugar
3 Bay Leaves, finely chopped
Approx 10-15 Juniper Berries, lightly crushed
A few pinches of Black Pepper
You will also need a non-metallic container to put the pork in whilst it is curing
It is also traditional to use saltpetre to maintain the pinky colour of the pork after it has been cured, but this is optional and I didn't bother.
|The cure, but no sign of Robert Smith|
You then need to combine the ingredients for the cure, and after placing the pork in your non-metallic container (i.e. a plastic or wooden box), start rubbing it into the meat, making sure you cover all surfaces with plenty of the salt mixture. Don't use it all though, as you will need to check your prospective breakfast rashers on a daily basis in order to drain off the porky juices which will have leached out and then top things up by rubbing a bit more of the cure into the pork.
In terms of how long to leave the pork in the salt, the sainted Hugh recommends 5-6 days for a lighter cure, but 9-10 if you want to keep it for longer before consuming. However, a piece that has been in for 10 days will need to be soaked for a few hours before eating otherwise it will be too salty. I'm storing mine in the cellar whilst its curing, but any cool, dry place should be fine.
I will return later in the week with news of bacon, a few shots of the finished article and some recipes to go with it. So stay tuned for part 2.