Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Maple Bacon with Chilli and Black Pepper

To celebrate moving into the new house I decided to initially stick to something simple and make some back bacon. I spotted a recipe for honey-cured bacon with chilli and black pepper on the sausagemaking forum  (so all credit to JerBear) but tweaked the recipe slightly, substituting maple syrup for honey and including less salt (read the discussion following the recipe; I use Phil Young's online cure calculator here). I used the standard equilibrium dry curing method, where you stuff all the ingredients in a ziplock bag along with the meat and give it a good shake/massage.

This little piggy went to market...
The loin was cured for just over a week, massaging and turning every day. After that I took it out, washed it off and left it in the fridge overnight to form a pellicle. Before putting it in the smoker I sprinkled the meat surface with freshly ground black pepper and chilli flakes. I pressed them onto the meat surface rather than rubbing them in. The bacon was cold smoked for 12 hours over maple.

The slicer of Champions gets a work out

I couldn't resist and had to fry some up there and then for a bacon sandwich.

Sunday morning sandwich, still in dressing gown...

On a side note I always add sodium ascorbate (the sodium salt of vitamin C) to my bacon cure. This is in order to inhibit the formation of nitrosamines  carcinogenic compounds formed under certain conditions by the reaction of nitrite with protein; such as the high temperatures involved in frying (nitrite reacts with secondary amine groups i.e. proline residues; but that's enough of that science fans). Now I know this isn't strictly necessarily and that in the UK we have no rule on adding ascorbate to bacon (nor is there one forbidding its use); we're also free to use nitrate in our bacon cures. On balance my personal opinion that ascorbate addition is worth it.