Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Buckboard Bacon

In the last year, I’ve made over sixty pounds of bacon. No, I didn’t eat it all myself. But we’ve eaten a lot of it: more bacon than we’ve ever had. I can hear you wondering about my cholesterol levels: they’re actually down from a couple of years ago. I’m not saying that’s because of this bacon, but I’m not NOT saying it.
This bacon differs from store-bought in two ways.
  1. It’s made from the pork shoulder, not the pork belly. Traditional American bacon is made from pork belly, which can be expensive. Canadian bacon uses the same techniques, but with pork loin. This bacon is “buckboard” bacon, using the same techniques but with pork shoulder. That gives it a consistency somewhere between American and Canadian bacon, depending on the slice in question. Some slices will be almost as fatty as American bacon, others will be almost as lean as Canadian. Your mileage may vary.
  2. It’s hot-smoked, not cold-smoked. Most low-end supermarket bacon isn’t smoked at all, just flavored with liquid smoke. The high-end stuff is cold-smoked: it’s subjected to up to 4 hours of smoke, but no heat above 100 degrees. This is difficult and dangerous for the home enthusiast. This bacon is hot-smoked: smoked (or baked) at ~200 degrees until it reaches an internal temperature of 145. This means the bacon is technically safe to eat when it’s removed from the smoker or oven. It’ll taste better fried, though (like ham).
If that sounds like something you’d be willing to eat, it’s actually really easy to make.

Micah’s Pretty Good Bacon Recipe
  1. Cut pork shoulder into slabs of bacon. A pork shoulder or “Boston Butt” is a big hunk of meat; probably the largest one handled by a typical home cook. It usually has a shoulder blade somewhere inside it. You’ll need to cut up big slab into smaller pieces for easier handling, curing, and smoking. I find 2” thick slabs to be ideal. Anything more than 3” will take extra time to cure.
  2. Cure slabs. Coat the slab with the appropriate amount of bacon cure. If making your own, mix up 450g kosher salt, 225g brown sugar, 50g curing salt (the pink stuff). Weigh the slab, then use 5% by weight. A 20oz slab would need 1oz cure, a 40oz slab would need 2oz cure, etc. Rub the slab with the appropriate amount of cure, and put in a Ziploc bag for 10-14 days. Don’t worry, it can’t “over-cure.” Moisture will leave the meat and make a brine in the bag. Flip the bag every few days to redistribute the brine.
  3. Soak, dry, and rub slabs. After 2 weeks, remove the bacon and rinse it. If you like very salty bacon, move forward immediately. If you hate salt, soak slab in cold water for 1 hour. I recommend starting with a half-hour soak and moving up or down in subsequent batches. Remove slabs from water and dry thoroughly with a paper towel. Use a dry rub for flavoring (My go-to rub is 3 parts brown sugar, 2 parts Cajun seasoning, 1 part Montreal steak seasoning). Let sit in fridge for between 0 and 24 hours, then add to “smoker.”
  4. Smoke & cool. If you have a smoker, great! It’ll add extra flavor to the bacon. Otherwise, put bacon on a wire rack over a cookie sheet and cook in a 225 degree oven for 3-4 hours. A meat thermometer is helpful; pull bacon when internal temperature reaches 145. Then cool uncovered in fridge for up to 8 hours before bagging in a Ziploc bag. I have no idea how long it will last in the fridge; we always eat it first! 

No comments:

Post a Comment