How simple? Well, I'm here to show you.
First start with a 3-5 pound pork belly. I like the belly I'm going to cure to be at least 1 inch thick. Mine is a Berkshire belly that I bought from Becker Lane Farms. These guys are certified organic and raise their animals humanely, feeding their pigs certified organic feed and give them plenty of pasture time. Not only are these practices good for the environment but they also deliver some really tasty meat!
OK enough about organic already! Let's get to the bacon!
I'm doing a brown sugar and maple cure. I enjoy the sweetness this cure adds to the bacon.
So I start with a ¼ cup of brown sugar, ¼ cup of kosher salt (I love irony!), a quarter cup or real maple syrup, and of course, the star of the show, our Becker Lane Berkshire pork belly.
I began by combining the brown sugar and the salt, then mixing in the maple syrup. The cure looks like this
Notice that I've left some room in there. Over the next week this baby is going to release a good amount of liquid. That's the cure at work. The salt pulls the water from the protein and that's how the meat is preserved.
Now all I have to do is pop it into the refrigerator and turn it over once a day to redistribute the cure and the juices.
You also may have noticed that I didn't use any pink salt. Pink salt is a nitrite salt. It's typically used in curing but, as I learned this week, it isn't really essential. I found this out while at The Butcher and the Larder, a great new butcher shop here in Chicago. Rob told me if I do it this way and don't like the results he'll give me another belly. Somehow I don't think Rob will have to pay up on that bet.
So, with the idea that simple is better, I left it out.
Next Saturday I'll pop this baby into the smoker for an hour and a half or so over apple wood and that's it.
Easy to make, simple ingredients, and really delicious.
You should try it!