Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Bacon!

This was my second attempt at making bacon.  It turned out very, very good.  This might be my new favorite thing to do.  We decided to invite some friends over to watch Game of Thrones the night I smoked the bacon, so I cut off a few slices to grill and put on burgers.  It was fantastic!  Enjoy!





































Ingredients:
Bacon:
  • ~4 lbs pork belly from www.forestfed.com
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • ~2 Tbs fresh ground black pepper


Burgers:
  • 1 lb grass fed ground beef from www.polyfacefarms.com
  • gluten free buns from www.happytartbakery.com
  • 1/4 of a white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • ~2 Tbs worcestershire sauce
  • ~2 Tbs dried oregano
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • swiss cheese


Asparagus:

  • 2 bunches of asparagus
  • ~1 Tbs lemon salt (we have some salt with lemon peel)
  • ~2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • ~1 Tbs roasted garlic olive oil

Salad
  • I need to get the ingredients from Carlyn, who makes awesome salads, but she is asleep!

Sweet potato fries
  • store bought and made in the oven

Angry Orchard cider was also an invaluable ingredient, if not directly used in food preparation.

Procedure:
Bacon:
Bacon is simple and elegant.  I used a gorgeous slab of forest fed pork belly from www.forestfed.com.  I rinsed it off, patted it dry, then gently rubbed on a cure of half salt and half brown sugar, plus some black pepper.  Then I wrapped the belly in plastic and sealed it in a ziploc bag and put it in the fridge to cure for 6 days, flipping it over every day for even curing.  When it was ready, I rinsed off the excess cure, and was pleasantly surprised that most of the black pepper stayed on while the extra salt and sugar dissolved off.  I did not rinse my first batch of bacon and it turned out too salty.  Rinsing is a critical step!  After rinsing, I patted it dry.  Next came smoking.  When smoking bacon, you are not cooking it, you are further curing it by drying it out, and adding the smoke flavor.  So you want the smoker to be at a low temperature, around 140-180.  As you can see in the pictures, I added a second thermometer to my smoker, the stock Warm/Ideal/Hot indicator is not good enough for keeping a specific temperature.  This cost about $10 and is absolutely worth it.  I smoked the bacon for about 4.5 hours, adding apple wood chips regularly.  Dinner was a little earlier than 4.5 hours, so I took it out and sliced a few pieces off early to grill and put on the burgers.

Burgers:
For burgers, I did my normal procedure.  Whisk 1 egg per pound of meat, add the seasonings and mix in with the egg.  Add the meat and mix thoroughly by hand.  Make patties, thin in the middle so you end up with burgers, not meatballs.  The grass fed beef was from Polyface farms (www.polyfacefarms.com), and it was fantastic.  Usually, I eat burgers with no bun, but this time we got buns from our local gluten free bakery, the Happy Tart (www.happytartbakery.com).  I toasted them on the grill (in the same spot I had cooked the bacon...) and they were awesome!  I also made Sriracha mayo by, you guessed it, mixing Sriracha and mayo until the heat was where I wanted it.  This went on the buns and was used to dip the sweet potato fries.

Asparagus:
The asparagus was simply tossed with oil, salt, and pepper, and grilled.  I got it off the grill at exactly the right time, when it still has a good snap to it.  It was by far the best asparagus I’ve ever made.

Resulting Deliciousness:
This was a great meal with great friends.  I don’t think I’d change a single thing about it.  It was a perfect pre- Game of Thrones hangout!  The bacon turned out fantastic, I can’t wait to eat the other 3.75 pounds of it!

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