Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What are you smoking? Bacon and smoked meat

My original plan a couple of weekends ago was to get some bacon and smoked meat ready for July 1 (or Canada Day as we Canadians call it in Canada, where I live). But then my wife went and had our baby early (Charles aka Charlie, was 7 lbs 6 ounces. And thank you for asking) which scuppered my meat plans. But a handsome healthy baby boy, right? Yay!

Now that he's a week or so old it's time for me to get back to business, which means whipping up some bacon and smoked meat. Each take a while to cure (5-7 days for bacon, two weeks for smoked meat) so I figured I'd offer up a step-by-step process here on the blog.

I know I already featured my bacon recipe here, but I feel like I missed some elements in the process so I'm going to do it again. Plus, I've started selling it by the pound so if you can't stop drooling when you read these posts you know where to go to get your fix. (i.e., Me.)

Here's the curing ingredients (which can be found here) all ready to go...

Here's the raw pork belly (each piece is about 1 kilogram, or two pounds)...

And here's the belly rubbed with the cure ingredients....

And yes, those are juniper berries. One day I'm going to roll up one of these and dry it into pancetta.....if my wife would let me that is. 

Now on to the Mickey Mantle of my smoking repertoire, smoked meat. It took me a few tries to get the hang of this, but man is it worth the effort. Last fall I took some of this on a camping trip in Eastern Ontario and the guys I was with were nutty for it. Even one Montrealer, who declared it better than Schwartz's (take that Celine!).

Anyways, it all starts with the cure/spices. In this case I deployed a mix of pepper, coriander, mustard seed, chili flakes, dill weed, celery seed, sugar, and some berbere (a traditional spice that I picked up when I was in Ethiopia last Fall which I seem to add to everything these days).

I then took the spice rub and mashed it into the brisket, in this case a 12-13 pound whopper.

I then slipped in the fridge in my basement, where it with sit for no less than 14 days, after which it will re-emerge Phoenix-like, into a glorious, luxurious, succulent hunk of meat.

Here's something that's worth saying about the lure of smoking your own meats: it's cheap. That brisket cost me $50, about $9/kg, which is a deal compared to the store-bought slush they try and pass off as smoked meat these days. Even factoring in the shrinkage that occurs in the smoking process, there'll be enough meat on this to make a couple of dozen sandwiches (or a camp full of hung-over men). 

I'll check in one these in the coming week or so and update you on how they're doing. 

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