Cider Syrup Bacon
Italy has prosciutto, German has sausages and Spain has serrano. It seems to me that America's go-to cured meat is bacon.
Long ubiquitous at breakfasts, bacon has recently enjoyed resurgence to cult status, flavoring everything from beer to cupcakes.
With a populace growing in concern about high fructose corn syrup and additives, making bacon has also become the de rigueur for the adventurous home cook. We hopped on the bacon makin' wagon over two years ago and haven't bought a pack of the store bought stuff since.
The process is simple: Rub fresh pork belly (our favorite local source is Blues Creek Meats) with a curing mix of sugar, salt, and pink salt. Under refrigeration, allow the pork to absorb the salt and leach some liquid for 4-7 days. Rinse off the salt, pat dry, and smoke or oven roast. Slice, cook, and viola! You just made the best bacon you've ever tasted.
The joy of home charcuterie rarely stops with the first batch of bacon, however. A curious cook wonders how this or that will affect the flavor and begins experimenting.
This drive to excite our mouths with interesting new flavors led to the discovery of cider syrup bacon. Just as one might make maple flavored bacon by adding maple syrup to the cure described above, we tried adding 1/2 cup of Charlie's Apple Cider Syrup to a five pound batch of bacon last year. It imbibed the pork belly with tangy zest from the apples and the slightest hint of cinnamon.
When we pressed cider and made our own syrup this fall, we made another batch, knowing the ingredients even more intimately. Perfect for winter when we don't always want to fire up the grill, cider syrup bacon is best oven roasted, lest the delicate syrup flavors be overwhelmed by smoking. This charcuterie experiment was a keeper.
If you want to jump into the world of home cured bacon and other tasty meats, we recommend Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn's book Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. You can also follow the Charcutepalooza blog project in which we are participating. If you learn best in person, join us for our Charcuterie class at Franklin Park Conservatory on March 15 from 6:30 - 8 pm.
Added to Simple Lives Thursday 30th edition.