Bacon Experiment

For a moment Thursday I almost lost my mind and tried to organize a dinner party for Saturday. I had all these recipes in my head I wanted to try and no captive audience to force to eat. Then I came to my senses.

I battled the snow (read: minor flurries) to get to three supermarkets and Sanyuanli, because this was bacon-making day. Wumart did not carry the sodium nitrite salt, nor did Jingkelong, the French Butcher or the German butcher shop. The guy at April Gourmet knew what I was talking about, but informed me that no one carries it because it’s terrible for your health, and gave me a weird look for trying to find it. I asked around at Sanyuanli, even the butcher stalls that had pork sausages hanging up, but no one seemed to know exactly what it was I was trying to describe, and recommended that I buy salt from the grocery store. Thanks, really helpful.

Undeterred, I bought a large slab of pork belly and brought it home. I was a little horrified to find three nipples on it, and had to slice that end off. Online sources said to leave it on but..ehhh…a little too creepy looking.

I rinsed the slab of belly and dried it thoroughly. I left the skin on, although I’m going to trim it off after the curing process is finished.

Brown Sugar-Honey Dry Rub


I mixed a dry rub of 1 cup salt, a very generous amount of black pepper, and about 1/4 of brown sugar and honey (one recipe I read recommended it over maple syrup). The honey made the whole thing very sticky and the brown sugar made it crumbly and clumpy. It did not “slather” very well over the meat, as the recipes I was reading seemed to suggest it would. I rubbed it into every nook and cranny, and as the salt began drawing water out of the pork, it actually got a little easier. The rub did not like to adhere to the skin side at all. Then I struggled to get it into a ziplock bag with minimal spillage. I’ll let you guess how well that was accomplished.

Pork Belly covered in dry rub


Put every last bit of dry rub into the bag onto the pork, squeezed all the air out and then zipped it up. Laid it flat on the bottom shelf of the fridge. Every day turn the slab over, and also, especially after the first 24 hours, drain the liquid that has seeped out of the pork belly and add more dry rub.

Proto-Bacon in the bag


After the first day already the pork was stiffer and denser, which made pulling it out and putting it back into the ziplock bag much easier. This time I made the rub with brown sugar and white sugar instead of honey, which was too messy, and it stuck to the pork much better. I made sure to get all the crannies and bits before replacing it in the fridge.

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