Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Making bacon

I must be getting better because I decided that last night was the perfect time to try making bacon.

Bacon has been riling me up over the last few months. Bacon, when at its best, should not require any more thought than an immediate analysis of how delicious the piece in your mouth tastes.  But trying to get good quality and ethically produced bacon regularly is sometimes vexing.  It took me a long time to realise that the reason my bacon was so watery and insipid was because the producers inject the bacon with water to increase the sale weight!  It almost seems to dodgy that armies of policy analysts should be working on regulations to prevent such dodgy practices.  But no, it is the norm, so most of the producers do it.  If you want crispy bacon from most supermarket bacon packets, you are best to bake/ grill on a rack in the oven to try and drain all the liquid while cooking.

The other problem with pork is the way that it is farmed.  Many farming practices don't bother me, and some are not as bad, or as good, as you think.  For example, I've seen battery hens, 'barn' hens and free range hens.  The free range hens bothered me the most at the time: it was a summery South Canterbury day, they had no shelter and they were dying/ dead of heatstroke.  Had they been inside they wouldn't have had heatstroke (but I accept that they may have died of other things related to their living conditions). 

The press coverage over the last year regarding the living conditions of pigs has bothered me a lot, so my pork/ bacon purchasing has mostly changed to ensure that I'm buying NZ pork that is farmed about as nicely as you are going to get.

In a follow up to the 'Charcuterie' series I decided to have a go at bacon.  All that was required was a good piece of pork - in this case shoulder pork.  I created a brine from a pack from the 'Preserved' people and it sits in the fridge for one day per kilo of pork.  The brine liquid is partially apple cider, as I had some sitting in the cupboard for awhile, and thought that it might make a nice flavour!

 My Mad Millie cheese making container was the perfect size to hold the pork and wet cure.

The curing pork.  The little dipping sauce container is helping to keep the pork completely immersed.

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