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  • Post #61 - January 30th, 2007, 10:59 pm
    Post #61 - January 30th, 2007, 10:59 pm Post #61 - January 30th, 2007, 10:59 pm
    Random question for the gallery,

    So my bacon has been curing for a couple of days now, do I need to be flipping it throughout the week? Or can I just let it sit there?

    Getting excited!

    Also, I do not have a smoker. Is this a must?

    I read briefly somewhere about the cold-smoking option in the oven.
  • Post #62 - January 30th, 2007, 11:33 pm
    Post #62 - January 30th, 2007, 11:33 pm Post #62 - January 30th, 2007, 11:33 pm
    So my bacon has been curing for a couple of days now, do I need to be flipping it throughout the week? Or can I just let it sit there?

    Also, I do not have a smoker. Is this a must?


    1) Yes, flip every couple of days, so that the liquid that is expressed doesn't soak one side while the other dries out.

    2) Charcuterie talks about the oven method, that would be fine, you just won't have the smoky flavor... which I think is a BIG part of the appeal. In other words, it's not a must, but it's a must for me.

    Do you have a Weber grill? You could build a very small fire, keep feeding it chips, only keep it out there long enough to get the smoke flavor, roast it some more in the oven... there's a million ways to improvise something, I suppose, to give it some smoky flavor.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
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  • Post #63 - January 30th, 2007, 11:40 pm
    Post #63 - January 30th, 2007, 11:40 pm Post #63 - January 30th, 2007, 11:40 pm
    jpeac2 wrote:So my bacon has been curing for a couple of days now, do I need to be flipping it throughout the week? Or can I just let it sit there?


    You've done so much heavy lifting to acquire ingredients and use of refrigerator space, why not do the less than 2-minute flip. If your curing bacon looks like mine, then the curing liquid is only reaching a portion of the belly at any one time. The only way to evenly cure is to do the flip.

    Are you concerned because you won't be available to do the deed?

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #64 - January 31st, 2007, 8:52 am
    Post #64 - January 31st, 2007, 8:52 am Post #64 - January 31st, 2007, 8:52 am
    Flipped!

    Honestly. I think I either didnt read that part of the recipe or just forgot to do it.

    Oh well. Will flip again on Friday.

    And I think I will end up getting my hands on a smoker one way or another!
  • Post #65 - January 31st, 2007, 10:05 am
    Post #65 - January 31st, 2007, 10:05 am Post #65 - January 31st, 2007, 10:05 am
    Ok, just saw that Home depot has a smoker for $38 bucks. I think I am gonna have to splurge.
  • Post #66 - January 31st, 2007, 10:16 am
    Post #66 - January 31st, 2007, 10:16 am Post #66 - January 31st, 2007, 10:16 am
    HI,

    Not to be discouraging, but there are smokers who work well and those who don't. You may want to hold off until you can get a Weber Smokey Mountain, which has a great 5-Step tutorial.

    I have had mine for 26 years, so it can be lifetime investment. Truthfully I have gotten more action out of it in the last 3 years since I took the 5-step.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #67 - January 31st, 2007, 10:56 am
    Post #67 - January 31st, 2007, 10:56 am Post #67 - January 31st, 2007, 10:56 am
    Holy awesome site Batman!

    Hmmm. now off to read more and do a price check.
  • Post #68 - February 2nd, 2007, 3:50 pm
    Post #68 - February 2nd, 2007, 3:50 pm Post #68 - February 2nd, 2007, 3:50 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:HI,

    Not to be discouraging, but there are smokers who work well and those who don't. You may want to hold off until you can get a Weber Smokey Mountain, which has a great 5-Step tutorial.

    I have had mine for 26 years, so it can be lifetime investment. Truthfully I have gotten more action out of it in the last 3 years since I took the 5-step.

    Regards,


    So I am torn as I do not have the $140 for a WSM, do you think this would work:

    Home Depot


    I don't foresee myself doing a lot of smoking. So maybe spending $40 is a little more in the cards.

    Edit: Just read reviews on Amazon and they were not too good..... Back to the drawing board.
  • Post #69 - February 2nd, 2007, 4:39 pm
    Post #69 - February 2nd, 2007, 4:39 pm Post #69 - February 2nd, 2007, 4:39 pm
    jpeac2 wrote: I don't foresee myself doing a lot of smoking. So maybe spending $40 is a little more in the cards.
    I bought a cheap smoker from HD, and it was kinda, sorta OK. The big problem with the cheap smokers (at least the one I got) is lack of air-flow. You really have little ability to control the temperature, and it is hard to keep the coals at a constant slow burn. If the model comes with a thermometer built into the top, you can remove it to improve the air-flow (the thing is useless anyhow). I also drilled some more holes in the coal pan, and raised the whole thing off the ground using pieces of ceramic tiles, so air could get underneath. In other words, you can do OK with it, but it takes a lot more work and attention than with a WSM. I suspect if I had a Weber, I would use it a lot more often. On the other hand, my Uncle and my Mother both smoke fish in a cardboard box with an old oven rack over an alderwood fire (a trick learned from my grandfather) with spectacular results. Of course, fish takes a lot less time than bacon.
  • Post #70 - February 2nd, 2007, 4:46 pm
    Post #70 - February 2nd, 2007, 4:46 pm Post #70 - February 2nd, 2007, 4:46 pm
    jpeac2 wrote:
    Cathy2 wrote:HI,

    Not to be discouraging, but there are smokers who work well and those who don't. You may want to hold off until you can get a Weber Smokey Mountain, which has a great 5-Step tutorial.

    I have had mine for 26 years, so it can be lifetime investment. Truthfully I have gotten more action out of it in the last 3 years since I took the 5-step.

    Regards,


    So I am torn as I do not have the $140 for a WSM, do you think this would work:

    Home Depot

    I don't foresee myself doing a lot of smoking. So maybe spending $40 is a little more in the cards.

    Edit: Just read reviews on Amazon and they were not too good..... Back to the drawing board.


    I would suggest putting th $40 towards a future WSM. I wouldn't worry too much about smoking bacon if you would only do it occasionally anyway. Your bacon will be excellent without smoking. The big advantage of getting the WSM is that you can also smoke/bbq pork, brisket, chicken, etc. You can cold smoke salmon, shrimp, etc also.

    Don't get a cheap electric smoker either. They either smoke at too high or too low of a temperature for what you need. The exception would be the Lil Chief's which are good for cold smoking.
    Bruce
    Plenipotentiary
    bruce@bdbbq.com

    Raw meat should NOT have an ingredients list!!
  • Post #71 - February 5th, 2007, 11:54 pm
    Post #71 - February 5th, 2007, 11:54 pm Post #71 - February 5th, 2007, 11:54 pm
    Hi,

    I've been curing bacon since last weekend. I plan to smoke it Wednesday. I admit I am not looking forward to going outside to do this task in this deep cold:

    I want to understand how to prepare the fire for this occasion:

    - Waterpan (filled with sand): yes or no?
    - Bottom vents left open the whole time? Or are 2 vents closed by 1/3 after 30 minutes?
    - Is there any charcoal loaded in the ring? Or was all the fuel from the chimney?
    - I know each cook is individual, I have the impression this can be 2-3 hour process. Is this a reasonable orientation?

    I did use some of my bacon last night to make Carbonara, it was really pretty good. I think I am going to put some aside unsmoked for cooking when a smoke taste isn't desired.

    Thanks!

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #72 - February 6th, 2007, 12:07 am
    Post #72 - February 6th, 2007, 12:07 am Post #72 - February 6th, 2007, 12:07 am
    I don't claim any particular method, all I know is that I've been reasonably successful at building a small fire-- maybe fill half a chimney, dump that in the bottom, put on the water pan (not sand), toss in the wood chips, keep an eye on both the meat and the fire, so the meat doesn't get too cooked and the fire doesn't go out, adjust vents only if you think it's too hot or not hot enough, toss in some more unlit coals as it starts to die down every hour or so-- that's about it. A couple of hours of smoke and slight roasting like that and you should have a nice chunk of pork belly ready to slice and freeze. Since you're not aiming for a particular state of doneness, just for a smoky flavor, anywhere in the 2-3 hour range seems to be good.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #73 - February 6th, 2007, 10:53 am
    Post #73 - February 6th, 2007, 10:53 am Post #73 - February 6th, 2007, 10:53 am
    I think the Minion method is the best method for maintaining a low and steady temperature. This method uses a small amount of lit coals on top of a pile of unlit coals. Should be pretty easy to maintain a small fire without much tending too in the cold.
    Jamie
  • Post #74 - February 6th, 2007, 3:48 pm
    Post #74 - February 6th, 2007, 3:48 pm Post #74 - February 6th, 2007, 3:48 pm
    Hi,

    Is the water pan filled? My feeling it is empty and just acting as a barrier to direct heat.

    Thanks!

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #75 - February 6th, 2007, 3:52 pm
    Post #75 - February 6th, 2007, 3:52 pm Post #75 - February 6th, 2007, 3:52 pm
    For bacon, I'd fill the pan. Your goal is to keep it on the smoke as long as you can with as little "cooking" as possible.
    Jamie
  • Post #76 - March 14th, 2007, 8:03 pm
    Post #76 - March 14th, 2007, 8:03 pm Post #76 - March 14th, 2007, 8:03 pm
    Baconblogging 2: The Natural Pig

    A box was waiting for me by the door today...

    Image

    Open it up to find...

    ...but let's go back to the beginning.

    So as much as I liked my homemade bacon, over time two things had been gnawing at me. One, it was hard to find really good pork bellies at Peoria-- they were thin and occasionally had holes where something had been gouged out entirely. Two, after reading Pig Perfect, well, I wanted better pork, better tasting, better for Al Gore's planet. My small quantity of Bob in Georgia pork had convinced me I wanted naturally-raised pork fattened over time on whatever the local free-range food was, not industrial pork raised in the polluted hell of a factory farm. Pig fat is unusual in that a pig doesn't really alter the fats it takes in; if it grows up eating acorns, as in Spain, its flesh is full of acorn oil, if it grows up eating peanuts, peanut oil. And if it lives in a big building on slats for its excretions to fall through, it winds up giving off a whiff of what it's been living above for its brief lifespan. Let's face it: modern pork is kinda stinky. But Bob in Georgia's pork wasn't. It was pretty.

    However, Bob doesn't ship, except by helping Bruce load a bunch of coolers into his car, so I needed a supplier who was set up to send out naturally-raised pork bellies. And that proved hard to find. Partly, I suspect, because as one Illinois pig farmer told me, there's a lot more money in selling bacon than in selling pork bellies for someone else to make bacon from. It's an easy way to increase the price per pound, for any farmer with his own retail operation or connection. Others, who weren't so well set up for small consumer orders, simply sold by the 1/2 or whole hog, take it or leave it, and I wasn't prepared to commit to pork for my next 50 fancy meals just to get a few rashers of bacon.

    By this point, you're saying, what, Mike G, never heard of Niman Ranch? Well of course I had, but with an 8-lb. belly going for almost $40, plus shipping, I was looking at at least $7-8 per pound by the time all was said and done. I hoped to beat that by at least a buck, and at the same time encourage in the most cash-based way possible some other farmer who wasn't part of the Niman marketing machine, maybe even get them a few other orders from LTHForumers.

    Finally I found this one: Northeast Iowa Specialty Meats. They didn't actually offer pork bellies, but I suspected that if I asked them about it, they'd sell them to me. A little back and forth by email and soon I was on the waiting list for a few big hunks of pork, sawed into a size suitable for shipping.

    And so I found myself today with a box, containing...

    Image

    Two thick pork bellies, 2-1/2 to 3 inches thick compared to my last Peoria ones which were lucky to go much over 1". Dark ruby-red meat, luxuriously silky snow-white fat, much like the Bob in Georgia pork. The cost? A mere $3.10 per pound for the meat alone, all 21.5 pounds of it. Of course, add shipping and dry ice (which, given our recent 70-degree days, proved to be a wise investment, somewhat to my surprise), and even not counting the $20 deposit on the shipping container the price rises substantially to around $110, or right around $5 per pound. Compared to $1.39/lb. at Peoria (some of which is skin, of course, so call it closer to $1.75), it's quite a bit more. But it still compares reasonably to the cost of storebought bacon ($6.50/lb. for Paulina's, for instance; around $10/lb. for Applegate Farms' lameass uncured natural bacon at Whole Foods). Not, mind you, that I'm an utter pennypincher about this stuff, not at all. But it's reassuring to know that I'm not paying through the nose for the privilege of doing most of the work myself.

    Image

    Barely squeezing the two bellies into 2.5-gallon Hefty zipper bags, I added a pink salt-salt-sugar cure (per Charcuterie), some crushed juniper berries and several glugs of maple syrup, and sealed the bags tight and stuck them in the basement fridge. In ten days, after turning and sloshing them around a bit, I will smoke them. Stay tuned...
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
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  • Post #77 - March 14th, 2007, 8:18 pm
    Post #77 - March 14th, 2007, 8:18 pm Post #77 - March 14th, 2007, 8:18 pm
    Mike G wrote:Image


    Now that's what I'm talking about! Good luck with this batch. You're off to a great start.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #78 - March 24th, 2007, 10:45 am
    Post #78 - March 24th, 2007, 10:45 am Post #78 - March 24th, 2007, 10:45 am
    Smokin'!

    Image
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #79 - March 24th, 2007, 2:08 pm
    Post #79 - March 24th, 2007, 2:08 pm Post #79 - March 24th, 2007, 2:08 pm
    Smoked! Three and a half hours at 150F later...

    Image
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #80 - March 24th, 2007, 2:11 pm
    Post #80 - March 24th, 2007, 2:11 pm Post #80 - March 24th, 2007, 2:11 pm
    Damn!!! What time is breakfast?
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #81 - March 24th, 2007, 2:18 pm
    Post #81 - March 24th, 2007, 2:18 pm Post #81 - March 24th, 2007, 2:18 pm
    These pictures have me wondering if I should buy a vacuum sealer and try to undercut your current connection for that service. :twisted:
    Joe G.

    "Whatever may be wrong with the world, at least it has some good things to eat." -- Cowboy Jack Clement
  • Post #82 - March 25th, 2007, 8:06 am
    Post #82 - March 25th, 2007, 8:06 am Post #82 - March 25th, 2007, 8:06 am
    germuska wrote:These pictures have me wondering if I should buy a vacuum sealer and try to undercut your current connection for that service. :twisted:

    Bidding war for Mike G bacon, yikes! And I just replaced my old vac sealer.
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #83 - March 25th, 2007, 8:23 am
    Post #83 - March 25th, 2007, 8:23 am Post #83 - March 25th, 2007, 8:23 am
    Competition is healthy.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #84 - March 25th, 2007, 8:27 am
    Post #84 - March 25th, 2007, 8:27 am Post #84 - March 25th, 2007, 8:27 am
    Mike G wrote:Competition is healthy.

    Not if you want your new batch-o-bacon sealed this morning it's not. :twisted: :twisted:
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #85 - March 25th, 2007, 9:11 am
    Post #85 - March 25th, 2007, 9:11 am Post #85 - March 25th, 2007, 9:11 am
    Costco opens at 10. This is getting ugly.

    Anyway, frying...

    Image

    and eating!

    Image

    Well, it tastes really good, really clean. The meat flavor comes through, in fact if anything it's a little low-salt, probably because it's so thick that the cure just doesn't penetrate as deeply. I might up the salt next time, and lower the maple syrup a little. But those are quibbles; this meat was gorgeous, fried up beautifully (looked very fatty when it went in the pan, but was much meatier when it came out), and the taste is clean, porky in the good old sense. I look forward to many Sundays to come.

    Anyway, I think anyone interested in making their own bacon and getting really good bellies for it-- or any natural pork-- would be well advised to place an order with Jim & Elly Fink, aka Northeast Iowa Specialty Meats. Sounded like they'd be shipping around the middle of the month so there's just time, and I won't be ordering again this month, so give them a try.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #86 - March 25th, 2007, 2:23 pm
    Post #86 - March 25th, 2007, 2:23 pm Post #86 - March 25th, 2007, 2:23 pm
    Mike G wrote:Well, it tastes really good, really clean. The meat flavor comes through, in fact if anything it's a little low-salt, probably because it's so thick that the cure just doesn't penetrate as deeply. I might up the salt next time, and lower the maple syrup a little. But those are quibbles; this meat was gorgeous, fried up beautifully (looked very fatty when it went in the pan, but was much meatier when it came out), and the taste is clean, porky in the good old sense.

    One taste and Pig Ice Cream popped out of my mouth. Rich luxurious tongue coating creamy clean flavored piggy fat with a slight salty sweet edge, Pig Ice Cream.

    3.25.07

    Image
    Image
    Image
    Image

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #87 - March 25th, 2007, 2:30 pm
    Post #87 - March 25th, 2007, 2:30 pm Post #87 - March 25th, 2007, 2:30 pm
    From the looks of that 'fridge, there's enough there for just a *bit* of sharing, no? Just a teeny bit, eh? Not much, really, just a taste or two...

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #88 - March 25th, 2007, 3:16 pm
    Post #88 - March 25th, 2007, 3:16 pm Post #88 - March 25th, 2007, 3:16 pm
    Maybe I need to be thinking bacon-using dish for the LTHForum picnic.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #89 - March 25th, 2007, 4:23 pm
    Post #89 - March 25th, 2007, 4:23 pm Post #89 - March 25th, 2007, 4:23 pm
    G Wiv wrote:Image


    Gary, you dog.

    Congratulations on a priceless shot. That is Nigella, right?

    Bill/SFNM
  • Post #90 - March 25th, 2007, 4:32 pm
    Post #90 - March 25th, 2007, 4:32 pm Post #90 - March 25th, 2007, 4:32 pm
    Yes, in contrast to this.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.

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