About five years ago I bought Michael Ruhlman’s book Charcuterie from a shop in Fitzroy called Books for Cooks. If you live in Melbourne and like cooking, you probably know this place….their range of cookbooks is exceptional and they really know what they’re talking about.
I’ve followed Ruhlman’s recipes for all sorts of things, terrine, sausages, beef jerky…it was also from Charcuterie that I realised making bacon at home wasn’t actually that difficult. In fact you could probably say that if I hadn’t bought this book five years ago, I would probably have never started TIFB.
So when I was over in Melbourne a few months back, I dropped into Books for Cooks and offered to trade a kilo of my bacon for some ‘meat literature’ with co-owner Tim. Thankfully he loved the idea, and quickly rustled together a selection of Meatpaper magazines and a sausage making book.
Like my last few trades, Tim got a half kilo of two different cures, both full rashers of middle bacon.
The first was cured with salt, dark brown sugar, curing salt, a good slug of maple syrup and a healthy amount of cinnamon, which produced a a sweet, Canadian style bacon. I’ve made maple bacon before, and found it to be a little on the sweet side, so this time I scaled back the maple syrup content, and was pretty happy with the level of sweetness. I’ve also noticed that strong spices like cinnamon really come through in the final product, and in this case I thought it would pair well with the maple syrup….it did.
I tried something quite different with the second cure….chili & paprika bacon. As this was the first time i’d made it, I was reluctant to be too heavy handed with the spice, both can be pretty overpowing, and I only wanted to give the bacon a slight hint of warmth. Unfortunately I didn’t add enough, you could hardly even taste the chili. Still, the bacon had a nice flavour from the basic cure ingredients. I’ve since had a few requests from people for some ‘hot’ chili bacon, stay tuned to see how this turns out.
Both had about four hours of light smoking with chestnut wood from my mate Dave’s backyard. The wood was about eight months old, and gave a pretty nice and even smoke. I’m not too sure about the flavour though, it was a bit bland for me. If i use it again it’ll be mixed with another wood.
Pork – Middle cut (loin to belly)
Origin – Unknown
Cure – 500g x maple/cinnamon-cure + 500g x chili/paprika-cure
Length of cure – 7 days
Smoke – 4 hours with chestnut wood