Home-Cured Maple-Bourbon Bacon
I love each year when I get a half hog from a local Colorado farmer. I save the shoulder roasts for making my Pork Green Chile Posole, always get the hams fresh instead of cured, and this year asked for the loin in two big bone-in roasts which I’ll save for the holidays. Every year I decide to do something different with the belly – I’ve left it whole and used it in recipes like Asian Braised Pork Belly with Pickled Radishes and I’ve made Pancetta, but this year I’m making a home cured bacon that I know is going to be fantastic.My recipe is adapted from Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s Charcuterie, made my own as usual. It’s tough to slice this bacon thinly, so I went with thick slices. The texture is more like Canadian bacon to me, but the flavor is great. If it’s too salty for you (which I found to be the case), Ruhlman suggests blanching the bacon in boiling water before frying it which I intend to do next time.
- 6 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons fennel seed
- 2 tablespoons coriander seed
- 12 tablespoons Kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons pink curing salt
- 1½ cups maple syrup (I used a bourbon flavored maple syrup)
- ½ cup bourbon (I actually used Jack Daniels whiskey)
- 12 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 tablespoons dry thyme
- 1 side of pork belly, cut into 3 pieces, rind removed (about 6-8 pounds)
- Combine the peppercorns, fennel and coriander in a spice grinder and pules to roughly grind the spices. Pour into a bowl and add the salts, syrup, bourbon, garlic, and thyme. Stir to combine well.
- Place the pieces of pork belly into large plastic bags and divide the rub evenly between the 3 bags. Press the rub onto all sides of the belly, coating evenly, then press the air out of the bags and lay them on a rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate for a week, turning the bags each day.
- After a week, wash the cure off the meat, taking care to rinse very thoroughly. Pat dry with paper towels then place on a rack over a rimmed baking sheet and return it to the refrigerator to air dry for 24 hours.
- Roast the pork belly in a 225 degree oven until it reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees, about 90 minutes. Remove from the oven and chill completely before slicing. Wrap bacon well and freeze in 1-2 pound packages until needed. Use within 3 months.