Traditional Homemade Bacon

½ teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon unrefined salt
1 heaped tablespoon unrefined sugar (e.g. rapadura)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 kg pork belly
1 cup wood chips (oak, black wattle, chestnut, grape vine or from any fruit tree)
Special equipment
2 woks
strong metal hook
small round metal rack
meat thermometer

This is the traditional way to make bacon. These days, most bacon is made using nitrates to speed up the curing process – taking one to two days – and to make the bacon look pink, but recent studies have suggested that nitrates are carcinogenic. When you make it the traditional
way, the whole process takes 21 days, and it’s actually a grey–brown colour on the outside once cured – this is how it should look.

We got this recipe and learnt the process through trading with an amazing man called Mike Patrick, who is the absolute pro at smoking
everything. These days, smoking your own meat can seem complicated, with people building whole smokehouses just for curing meat, but actually you can do it on your stove and this recipe makes it achievable for everyone.

smoking-bacon_008Day 1. Grind the peppercorns and coriander seeds using a mortar and pestle or blitz them in a blender. Add the salt, sugar and garlic and continue to grind or blitz until evenly combined.

Place the pork belly on a baking tray and rub all sides with the salt and spice mixture. Make sure you rub thoroughly and cover all of the pork.

Place the pork in the fridge in a deep-sided tray, uncovered. Flip the pork belly every day for the next 10 days.

Day 11. Wash the pork thoroughly with cold water and pat dry with a tea towel. Hang in the fridge using the metal hook for 10 days (you may need to take a shelf out).

Day 21. It’s bacon day. Get a wok and place the wood chips in the bottom, place the rack over the wood chips and place the pork belly on the rack.

Insert a thermometer into the centre of the bacon at the thickest point. Place the second wok upside down on top so that it forms a lid and seals – it should look like a big clam. Place on the stove and turn the heat to high. Once it begins to smoke, reduce the heat to medium–high and smoke for about 2 hours (it doesn’t get too smoky, but turn the exhaust fan on and open the windows anyway) until the internal temperature of the bacon reaches 65°C.

Remove the bacon from the smoker and leave on the bench to cool. Slice into 4–5 cm-wide strips before refrigerating or freezing. It will keep in the fridge for at least 1 month, or in the freezer for 6–12 months. Note. Slow and consistent heat while cooking will achieve the best results, so try not to open the woks while cooking. ‘If you’re lookin’, you ain’t cookin’.’ – MIKE

From Grown and Gathered
Matt & Lentil
Published by Plum


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