Friday, January 28, 2011

Bacon Day 1

I guess you can say I just jumped right in head first. After deciding to be part of Charcutepalooza's February Challenge I immediately went to the Fatted Calf and bought 5 lbs of pork belly. I then ran over to the Oxbow public market to the spice merchant, World Spice. I bought curing salt, kosher salt and juniper berries. I knew we had everything else that I would need to make this bacon.

I walked into the Fatted Calf in Napa. It's usually pretty busy when I go in but they helped me right away. I ordered the pasture-fed heritage pork belly.  What I like about getting meat is that I know the animals were treated humanely - one of the rules, as it turns out of the Charcutepalooza. I go to the Fatted Calf at least once a week and we've chatted with the butchers there, so I'm a bit surprised that they don't recognize me yet. I didn't get to view the beauty of the pork belly until I got home. I opened up the butcher's paper and angels sung. It was beautiful.

I then mixed up the spice mix. I followed the above recipe but I also added a bit of cajun seasoning to kick it up a bit. I'm a bit worried about the juniper berries though because whenever I drink gin I puff up a bit. I don't regularly eat juniper berries, so honestly I could be totally fine. 

Clockwise from the top we have juniper berries, crushed garlic cloves, curing salt (it's pink to let you know not to eat it), kosher salt, ground nutmeg, pepper with fresh thyme and bay leaves, brown sugar with a dusting of cajun spices. 

I then mixed all of the spices and salts and rubbed the pork until it started to become moist. I then covered it with some plastic wrap in a pyrex baking dish. It will sit for a week getting massaged occasionally until day 7 when I roast it. I'm looking forward to having fresh bacon next weekend for breakfast!


  1. This is wonderful and the photos are so nice! Never knew bacon making could be an art form.

  2. Looks lovely to me, Rachel.
    When I start farmer's market this May, I have to talk to my one rancher who has pastured pork here. I have been debating to try this and cure my own since I have problems with MSG and all the nitrates in cured meats.
    Have fun playing with your food. lol :-)

  3. This is w onderful. Hope we both make great bacon.

  4. @denimflyz, from what I've read, you can make bacon without the nitrates/nitrites, but it won't taste like bacon - it will just taste like regular pork. But the nitrates aren't just used for taste. They are required to preserve the meat so that it doesn't give you botulism. Of course you can go ahead and just use salt, you'll just have to freeze it as it won't be truly preserved.

  5. omg, i'm totally going to make my own bacon. especially when the bacon from my csa is $14/lb.!