Before we decided to buy our little pigs I did some research, not just on feeding and caring for them, but what could be done with them after butchering.
I bought two Kindle books by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and read up on the subject and became more and more interested in the idea of curing our own bacon. It was something I’d never done before, but everything I read indicated that once I’d tried, I would never be going back to shop-bought bacon again.
The bacon I’ve bought here in Nicaragua is not good; so wet it shrinks by half when you cook it and probably made from offcuts squashed together in bacon shaped strips and likely loaded with chemicals to make it last forever in the fridge, that’s not what I’m happy eating.
Since our little piggies are months off being ready to eat I decided to practice making some bacon from some shop-bought pork and I have to tell you it is so ridiculously easy anyone could achieve it, and so deliciously good everyone should try at least once in their lifetime.
Since I was not able to buy any belly pork in our supermarket, I went for the back-bacon option and purchased 1lb of loin. Sadly they cut almost all of the fat off to make the meat look nice and healthy, I’m sure, but in doing so, they also cut off much of the flavour, especially for making bacon, despite that it’s still worth doing.
I simply mixed together the following for the 1lb (1/2 kg) of meat:
50 g Himalayan Salt
50 g local honey
a large pinch of dried rosemary,
a large pinch of freshly ground black pepper
about 8 lightly crushed Allspice (I didn’t have any Juniper Berries and the Allspice grows here in the orchard).
Next, I put the meat into a round (so that the curing salt doesn’t get stuck in the corners) plastic container and gently rubbed the salt mixture all over it and put it into the fridge. Every day I turned the meat and made sure the salt mixture went over every surface. Since the liquid comes out of the meat, what started as a dry cure became a wet cure, and over the course of five days the meat became firm to touch.
Today I removed the bacon from the cure, washed it well under running water to remove excess salt and then dried the surface before slicing it up ready to cook.
This whole process took no time at all, simply a little patience and is sooo worth it that I just know this will not be the last time I cure bacon. There are no nasty preserving chemicals, nitrates or colourings and the meat tasted truly delicious.
We ate our bacon with homemade sausages (pork and mango), quail eggs from out of the garden and ‘potato’ cakes made from yucca (cassava root), puréed with home churned butter and buttermilk.
Let me know if you decide to have a go too, I’d love to hear from you.