Every so often I ask my lovely husband for ideas – most recently last time I was making streaky bacon. ‘What cure shall I use?’ I called out from the kitchen. ‘Maple!’ he replied. Right oh, maple bacon. It’s a new one for us. I ferreted around in the cupboard and dug out a bottle of pure maple syrup. This was sounding plausible, after all!
[This bacon was made using a variation on the bacon-in-a-bag technique I wrote about the other week, so you should probably go and read that first if you’re not familiar with it.]
For my bacon, I used –
- 480g piece of pork belly from our local farm butchers’ shop
- 30g of supracure
- 26g of pure maple syrup (really, buy the good stuff, not the blended rubbish)
- A plastic bag big enough to contain the pork, and a sealed container for the cure.
I was aiming for an 8% total cure weight to the meat (lower than the 10% I normally use), with a 1/3rd to 2/3rd ratio of sugar to salt. This was in deference to the rather aggressive salt flavour I got from the outside pieces of my last bacon-in-a-bag effort. I got the ratio right but slightly overcooked the total quantity, in this event. You’re thinking now that my arithmetic doesn’t add up, and that 56g is clearly well over 10% of 480g. You have to consider that maple syrup is about 40% water to 60% sugar (check the nutritional analysis on the back of the bottle for your particular sugar) so my 26g of syrup is in effect 15g of maple sugar, for a total dry-equivalent cure weight of 45g or ~9%.
The mix of salt and syrup is not so much a dry cure, more of a ‘gloop’. Put the pork in the plastic bag and rub all over with half the cure, massaging in well. Seal the bag, excluding as much air as possible, and place it in the refrigerator. Store the rest of the cure in an airtight container. At least once a day (but in practice I tend to do this whenever I’m going to the fridge and remember) give the meat a bit of a massage, and return to the fridge the other way up.
After two days, I poured off the pickle, and applied the rest of the cure. After three more days (a total cure time of 5 days), remove the bacon from the fridge, rinse it under cold running water, dry carefully with kitchen paper and then wrap loosely in baking parchment and return it to the fridge for at least 24 hours (and preferably a few days) to rest.
You’ll notice that compared to our previous bacon, this one is a lot paler in colour, and retains a much whiter rind. Most of the change in the meat before and after curing is in the texture, with a slight pink flush to the meat. This is because we’ve not added colour by using a dark sugar in this cure. It slices very nicely!
At this time of year, with the warmer weather, perhaps you don’t fancy a bacon roll so much as in winter? For lunch on a hot day, I love a spinach and bacon salad. It’s the quickest and simplest of light summer lunches. First slice your bacon into lardons, and fry it off until slighty crispy. This bacon cooks beautifully, caramelising very rapidly and rendering off lovely clean clear bacon fat.
Then, toss your crispy bacon pieces, while still warm, into a big bowl of baby leaf spinach, dressing with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Doesn’t it look appetising?? It didn’t last long here!
We had a few more rashers for breakfast this morning. We will certainly be making this one over and over again in the future. In summary – this is great bacon, subtly flavoured, gently salted, with a gorgeous traditional bacon flavour. Make it!
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