Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Belly Turns to bacon with a little smoke!!

I am sure you all have seen my recent Day of the Belly post, this is the continuation.  I have recently purchased an electric smoker....  I know for those of you who know me well how could I be using an electric smoker?  Does this make me less of a man, not to be tending my own fire and grunting throughout the day.  Well I live in an apartment, and hell it is so much easier.  I smoked a shoulder the other day, all I had to do was rub my meet (hehehe) and toss it in the smoker, set my temp and time and walk away.  WOW much easier.  I do have to admit I miss my big old offset smoker.  I love that type of cooking.  As soon as I get out of an apartment I will be the meat Viking once again.  On to the meat(that's what she said).  I used a beautiful piece of Newman farms belly for this.

I cut half of this to make Pancetta, and the other half I cut into tow pieces to make a traditional Bacon and a sweet and spicy bacon courtesy of fellow Clevelander Michael Simon.  I cured both pieces of bacon for ten days, I then took them out of the fridge, rinsed them off, dried them then put them in the fridge for 24 hours.

Here you see the belly before it hits the smoke.  The reason I let this rest in the fridge for at least 24 hours is to develop a good pellicle.  This happens to be a fancy word for the proteins that build up on the outside of the meat that will help the smoke adhere to your meat.  If you skip this step the smoke flavor will be more bitter and will not adhere to your meat.  I used a combination of Hickory and Apple wood for this bacon.  I love the sweet finish off apple!  I prepped my smoker and let it come to 200F, then added my wood chips.  I then added my meat and let it smoke until the belly reached 150F.

I kept a water tray in the smoker to ensure that I was not going to dry out the belly.  Trust me even with all of that fat you can dry out the meat.  After the belly reached 150F, I removed it from the smoker and let it rest till it came to room temp.

After it rested, I had to trim it up and make sure that it tasted okay.  Freaking amazing!!!!  I do think that I may have over smoked the meat.  Next time I will not add as much in the way of wood chips but overall it came out great.

Look how thick the Heritage belly is. It was so good pan fried.  I was hoping for a little more spice from the Lola style bacon.  The flavor was great but I just wanted more spice.  I will be rolling my pancetta this week and getting it to the cure chamber.  I have had a couple of new additions to the cure chamber in the last couple days.  I offered to help out my friends over at AMIK and hang some Lardo for them.

Now that is a happy looking cure chamber.  Click on the pic for a better view.  I tell you every time I open the door I start to salivate!!  I really look forward to trying some new things.  I have recently purchased a massive 19lb shoulder, and a couple more jowls.  I am going to try my hand at "Nduja soon.  I just have to nail down the recipe.  I have been torn to try it first with supermarket grade ingredients or the Heritage style I usually use.  What the hell, I am about the risk.  I have learned a lot and have great ingredients courtesy of Sausage Debauchery Not only a great blog, but an amazing online store. 

Remember, know your Chefs, and Love Your Meat!!!!

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