Sunday, 14 July 2013

Bringing home the bacon

Some weeks ago now I reported on the pancetta I was making from the wild pigs caught on Highfield.
I also had a good deal of pork frozen in the freezer - a  gift from a neighbour. The other day I decided to thaw some out - a piece of belly I think - and try my hand at another form of pork preservation, this time bacon.

While searching for  a recipe for nitrate-free bacon ( I simply cannot buy the stuff even if I wanted to use it), I came across Food Domination and a recipe for French-style nitrate-free bacon. The author - Chef Paul does a great rant about why nitrate-free meat is a good thing that you can read if you are interested and provides his recipe. I have followed it almost exactly just amending for the fact that I had 2 kgs of meat where as he had 4 pounds and I used fresh rosemary and thyme from the garden*.

I wont repeat the recipe here cause you can see it on Paul's site. Suffice to say that the meat is cured with a combination of these herbs and spices:
  • pepper
  • bay
  • rosemary* 
  • thyme*
  • caraway seeds
  • fennel seeds
  • paprika - I used smoked paprika
  • garlic
 added to brown sugar, maple syrup and salt of course -  sounds good doesn't it?

Basically you crunch up the spices and the herbs, mix with the sugar and maple syrup and salt and rub it into the meat.

Then pop it in the fridge for 2 weeks, turning the meat each day. There is of course more to the recipe past this stage to make it into bacon or a French-style lardon, but I will report on that when I get to it. I think I am going to spend a lot more time looking at Paul's site....

In the meantime the pancetta I am making is coming along beautifully and this will also become the subject of a future post.

Have you ever made your own bacon? How did it turn out?


  1. My first thought was how fabulously ambitious it sounds making your own pancetta but perhaps its yet another thing that is easier in practice than I think. How it works well - it sounds fabulous.!

    1. I was surprised at how easy the recipes, both for the pancetta and the bacon, seemed and so have given it ago. It was an easy decision to try it out becasue the meat was 'free'. In any case the real proof will be in a few weeks when both the pancetta and the French-style bacon is ready to try. If they work, I think I am going to be hooked on making my own small goods and will possibly have to get some pigs!

  2. How amazing will a breakfast of eggs from your chickens and home-made bacon be?!

  3. I've not done bacon or pancetta, but I did cure some duck breasts years ago and they were fantastic. I may have to give that a go again. In the meantime I need to check out Paul's site.

    1. Oh I love the idea of cured duck. One of my favourite Chinese dishes is a smoked duck. Did you smoke your cure?



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