Monday, August 23, 2010

Mother of all Bacon


So, if the raw belly was "silly," then this bacon slab is just "Sick." These lovely slabs of deliciousness were treated with the utmost respect. Obviously, this is not pork belly you pick up in an Asian or Latin market. These are special, and deserve to be treated as such. This particular piece was cured with fresh ginger, sage and garlic to go with salt, pepper and sugar with a little cure #1. This has become my "go to" cure for bacon. As I know it works, I really didn't want to experiment with this piece of meat(refer to previously stated reasons). It was cured for 10 days. Usually I do a week, but, given the extra girth of this thing I gave it 3 extra days. For the first time, I decided to cure in vacuum sealed bags. I can't really be 100% as to whether or not this actually made a difference, but, at the very least, I didn't get in trouble for leaking bags in the refrigerator. Win-win. I removed it and rinsed it. It was dried off and set in front of a fan to develop a pellicle for an hour. While that was going on I had to get the hot smoke situation sorted out. Now, typically when I buy the $1.99/lb pork belly from a meat market/butcher, etc. (which have been absolutely awful, skinny and lean recently) I don't hold it in too high regard. I get out my $30 smoker, start a fire and throw some soaked wood chips on it. Smoke for 2-2.5 hours and remove it. Always works just fine. This time, however, I was NOT willing to disrespect this meat, as it wasn't $1.99/lb either :) . I set up my Big Green Egg. After quite a bit of tinkering, I was able to hold the temperature at 200 degrees. Only then did I introduce the soaked apple wood chips along with some apple wood dust. I babysat this sucker for 3 hours. A temperature probe was inserted after about an hour. Total smoke time was between 45 minutes and an hour. Total time on the fire was roughly 2.5 hours, maybe closer to 2 hours and 45 minutes. Took it off, waited 10 minutes and skinned it. Couldn't wait, I had to cut a piece off and try it. This meat really behaves differently than any meat I've ever eaten. I can't decide if the fat explodes or melts in your mouth, or both........explodes then melts. Either way, I can't say I've experienced it before. The worst part about using this meat is I don't think I'll waste my time with any other meat, seems useless. As for the rest of the belly, I made a Pancetta Tesa cured with thyme and juniper. Also, a Pancetta Calabrese cured with hot pepper powder and fennel seeds. Finally, a nice piece of Speck which was cured with caraway seeds, bay, juniper and thyme. The Speck will be cold smoked for a total of 20 hours, 4 hours for 5 days. N'duja also to be removed shortly.

13 comments:

  1. you rock!!!! what ever happened to Tuna on Monday Wed Fri and P&J on tuesday and thursday????

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  2. the managalitsa bellies are are whole different animal, literally. we've been using them since march when Torm of Pasture Prime Wagyu had his first lot ready. Nothing else compares. The mangalitsa belly has a much lower moisture content than that of berkshire or pretty much any other bacon. Even though the fat to meat ratio in the bacon is off the charts it retains a meaty flavor and texture than melts/explodes upon mouth impact. For a fatty bacon it's mouthfeel is almost light and doesn't feel like a bomb went off in your stomach upon consumption. Truly a unique flavor and texture. We give ours a ton of smoke(10 hours @ 140F) and when rendered it is almost black. "D' effing licious" is the quote of the day taken from Shola at Speck about his carnitas stuffed shishito peppers and applies here as well!

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  3. bluechefs: So right. I'm serious when I say I can't see a reason to cure any other type of pork.

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  4. I'm in love. It had to happen. Bacon. Pork. Smoked. Thick. Perfect.

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  5. That really is a beautiful piece of meat. Too fat for pancetta, though, at least the rolled pancetta.

    Looks real good.

    And I'm gonna try the vacuum bags, good idea.

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  6. Yeah, meatball, forget arrotolata. If I WAS able to roll it, it would've had a diameter of about 1ft. and probably would have taken 6 months to dry.

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  7. Hey Scott this thing looks insane! I am shopping around for a pig to cure this winter. I recently got a 150lb Yorkshire from a local farm here on long island and it was sub-par. I realize the size was small so the loin was narrow,and belly thin respectively, but the taste was a bit gamey. Your passion for this mangalitsa makes me want to try it. Is it possible for me to get a whole, or half hog directly from a farm? If so where? By the way I know it has been a while, but I over paid you last year for a few items and I am wondering If I still have a credit? Thanks!

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  8. You can get meat from Mosefund Farm in NJ. Credit is always good with me, Frankie.

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  9. I recently picked up something that compares to this. It's a belly from a Red Wattle pig from a guy who raises pigs outside of Houston, TX (Revival Meats). He also has Mangalista but he recommended I use the Red Wattle for bacon because the Mangalista has almost an all-fat belly. It's funny he said that since this Red Wattle one is the largest thickest belly I've ever worked with (about 3 inches thick) with thick white hard fat and little meat. I can only imagine how the Mangalista would've looked like. It is now still curing and I am hoping to smoke it this weekend). We'll see how it comes out.

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  10. Send me some pics of the finished bacon. I've heard a lot about red wattle and am curious to see it.

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  11. That turned out to be some fantastic bacon Scott:
    http://ovendriedtomatoes.com/2010/11/14/revival-meats-pork-the-belly/

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  12. My boyfriend is good on how to cure the meat. He puts a lot of vinegar, soy sauce, lemon and pepper. All these will make the meat very delicious once cooked. I love the way he cooks and his ways of curing meat in just 2 days.

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  13. I love to eat sausage and bacon early in the morning as my breakfast. My mom usually put some peppers and soak the meat in vinegar mixed with soda before cooking it. I really miss the way my mom cook breakfast for me early in the morning.

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