Eating frugally can sometimes be a struggle if you haven’t the luxury of a freezer. Before i moved out of my bedsit i had an ice box above my fridge which would, at a push, hold a box of chicken dippers and a bag of peas. This lead to many an expensive week having to buy fresh and the tedium of eating the same thing for three or four meals because it won’t keep in the fridge. Luckily, with the human being the forward thinking species it is, we cracked preserving meat a very long time ago and from this we have the internets favourite, bacon.
Now bacon for me is a weekend treat, but i have never been blown away by it. Yes it tastes nice, carries the taste of sauce well, seasons as well as improves many a dish but really, if i’m being honest, i actually prefer a sausage. However my interest in the Sunday morning staple was piqued when i was handed the cooking book Pig by Johnnie Mountain . Inside there is a recipie for curing your own bacon just using your fridge and a cooling rack. It uses pork belly which you can still pick up pretty cheaply from the supermarket, sea salt, sugar and maple syrup. The cost of the ingredients seems a lot but i got at least three or four weekends worth of bacon and plenty of lardons for other meals. Far more than you would get from a £3 packet of water pumped, dyed bacon from your local shop.
This recipie uses maple syrup which i happened to have but is expensive, either nick someone else’s or leave it out if you can’t afford it. Sunday is a good day to kick off the bacon process as you should, in theory have bacon ready to go for the following Sunday.
You will need:
1KG of pork belly, skin still on
150g of course sea salt
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
Put the pork belly on a chopping board and pat it dry with kitchen paper. Mix together the salt, sugar and maple syrup and rub this all over the pork making sure you get into all the crevices (imagine you are giving it a salty bed bath). Transfer the meat into a resealable freezer bag and tip in any remaining salt on the chopping board. Squeeze out as much air as you can and seal it tightly.
But the bag in a non metallic dish or on a plate and pop it at the bottom of the fridge and leave for five days. You must turn it over once a day.
After the five days rinse the bacon (i forgot and it was SO SALTY!), dry with kitchen towel and place on a rack covered with a clean tea towel in a cool, dry area. I put mine on top of the chest freezer by a window and leave for 24 hours at least, longer if you prefer.
Once dried, slice the bacon with a very sharp knife.
Adapted from the fabulous Pig from Johnnie Mountain http://www.johnniemountain.com