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Grill Roasted Hickory Smoked Bacon

March 16, 2010
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Warmer weather in The MSP has made its abrupt (but welcomed) grand entrance.  The 4″ snow pack in the backyard of my apartment disappeared over two consecutive 60 degree days.  Mother Nature’s timing couldn’t have been more perfect since I’ve been curing a slab of pork belly for homemade bacon, and the cure just finished up today.  Making bacon at home is a two step process before it’s ready to hit the frying pan.  First off, I made a cure using Morton’s kosher salt, granulated sugar, and brown sugar.  The pork belly sat in this cure for about a week in the fridge, wrapped up in a freezer grade ziploc bag.  For the second step, in the winter months, I usually roast the bacon in my oven until it reaches an internal temp of 150 degrees Fahrenheit.  But today, I fired up the grill for the first time this year and hot smoked the bacon with hickory wood chips.  The smoking process took about an hour, but it was a welcomed and relaxing break after last night’s grueling stage at Meritage in St. Paul.  The bacon turned out pretty damned good, with silky fat and an intense smoked flavor.  I doubt I’ll be using this as breakfast utility bacon. I’ll keep it for special dishes, maybe thick sliced and roasted on top of a cedar plank grilled scallop.

With this warmer weather, I’m sure most of you will start backing off on heavier dishes, exercising more, and watching what you eat.  I can’t stress this enough…the best way to watch what you’re eating is to make it yourself.  To hell with anemic store bought processed meat!  Making bacon or deli meat at home is ridiculously easy and incredibly rewarding.  As someone who used to be intimidated by seemingly complex methods of cooking, I say jump in headlong.  Be curious. Take chances.  Be patient.  Regardless of what happens, you’ll learn something.  In turn, your friends and family will swoon over your culinary prowess and ingenuity, but only you will know how easy it was…that is, unless your friends (like mine, who know me too well but I love and adore) are a bunch of difficult to impress drunks.

If you’re going to go through the noble effort of watching what you eat by making it yourself, you may as well hunt down the good stuff.  Find a good butcher who is equally attentive to the quality of their product.  In this case I purchased this pork belly from Clancey’s Meats, who sources their pork from the good guys at Hidden Streams Farm in Elgin, MN.

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