I’ve just eaten the best bacon in the world – because I made it myself. It contained no water that makes supermarket bacon more of a boil-up than a fry-up and none of that white, gloopy milky stuff that makes you want to retch.
This stuff was dry-cured for 10 days and cooked in the pan with no oil – and it was sublime: salty, sweet, crispy. Like the best bag of Frazzles you’ll ever taste!
Of course, the pork has much to do with it, and this beauty is Iberico – the glorious mat from free-range acorn-fed pigs in Spain – sourced from Jack O’Shea butchers in London, NW1.
And, of course, the cut is a huge consideration, and this beauty is the belly from said Iberico pig, which produces amazing streaky bacon,
It looks TOO fatty, doesn’t it? But don’t be deceived – that flavour has the most gorgeous nutty flavour, and when fried in a good pan for 6-7 minutes, it renders that fat to leave you with amazingly bacony bacon.
And then there’s the curing. You can buy ready-made cures online, but I wanted to do try making bacon for myself so for this 1kg slab, I mixed 30g of salt, 15g of sugar and 0.5g of salt petre, sourced from sausagemaking.org
Now, you have to be careful with this stuff: saltpetre is toxic in high doses, so use it very, very sparingly.
So why use it at all? Because, according to food writer Phil Daoust, as well as producing bacon that is pink rather than grey, it kills bacteria that cause botulism.
Once you’ve got your curing mix together, rub it all over the slab of pork and seal it in a freezer bag. Put it in the bottom of the fridge and leave it there for 10 days, turning and giving it an extra massage every day.
After 10 days, rinse the pork (now bacon) in cold water and pat dry.
You’re now ready to cook!
Ideally, we’d all have a bacon slicer at home to carve the joint, but I can’t quite stretch to that, so instead used my super-sharp Tojiro knife to cut it into 1-2 mm thick slices. It did a perfectly brilliant job, as you can see.
And then get cooking: heat a non-stick pan, don’t add any oil, then lay the slices in a single layer.
Just over 5 minutes later, Bacon Heaven.
I’m trying this same method right now with a Gloucester Old Spot loin joint to make some back bacon. I’ll let you know how it goes. Watch this space.