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Making Bacon

Making Bacon

You have to wonder who thought it was a good idea to take a chunk of pork belly, rub it with sugar, salt and spices and after allowing it to rest for a few days decided it needed a nice layer of smoke with a few hours spent in the smoker.

Making bacon at home with Nutmeg Disrupted

Pretty damn delicious decision.

It has been an interesting process of learning and research since deciding to make bacon at home. It was spurred by a recent visit with some of our oldest friends out at their farm. They have been raising pigs for a while now and after spending time out at their place it brought back many memories of when we had pigs of our own. We raised 2 kinds of pigs. Over the years we had both domestic pigs and we also had a large herd of wild boar. We would have pig roasts of wild boar that would turn into weekend long events!  And it was those events from which my passion for BBQ began.

After much discussion it was decided that we would buy a pig to butcher once they grow to a good sized weight.

And with pork on our mind our thoughts naturally turned to bacon.

Many things have graced the racks of the smoker but we have yet to make bacon. So with that in mind the research began. Any new smoking adventure always requires some research. in some cases you are working with expensive cuts of meat and while trail and error is a good way to learn it is always a good idea to do some research to find a starting point.

The first thing you need to find to make bacon is curing salt. The second thing you will need is time because as we quickly learnt it takes time to make bacon. It is easy to make, but after a few batches in there are step that definitely affect the final product. Taking your time is imperative to a superior end result. Do not rush, rushing will only leave you disappointed. The goal here is bacon, not seasoned side pork.

Curing salt should not be hard to find. It is available in stores that carry wood chips, smokers and BBQ products. We could not find just curing salt but we did find a bacon cure kit which has a mixture of curing salt and maple sugar. If you can not find that specific kit there are jerky making sets available that contain the curing salt required to make bacon. You can also search for online sources if you have trouble finding it locally.

Curing bacon on Nutmeg Disrupted

The pork belly is available in the meat section where I shop. If it is not on the shelf just ask your butcher. Be sure to get it with the rind on.

Pork belly being prepped for curing and smoking to make bacon from Nutmeg Disurupted

The list of ingredients is short. You will also need some large Ziplock bags.

pork belly

cure – 2 tablespoons per pound

brown sugar – 2 tablespoons per pound

Place the pork belly on a cookie sheet with an edge. (this is purely for easy clean up) Rub the pork belly on all sides with the cure. Sprinkle with a few tablespoons of brown sugar and rub all over the pork. Place each piece of pork belly into individual ziplock bags, removing as much air as possible and seal. Place in the fridge.

Now the next part depends on the thickness of the pork belly. In doing the research for this we discovered variations of how many days you want to brine the pork bellies for. The idea is the thicker the cut the longer the brine time.

For the first batch the pork was an inch thick. We brined it for 2 days, flipping the pork over every 12 hours. We did a short brine as the pork was quite thin and we were concerned that the bacon may end up being too salty. The second batch was much thicker at close to 2 inches. We brined those for two days, flipping the pork every 12 hours. At the end of the entire smoking process we found that the second batch did NOT brine long enough. It definitely should have been left for another 2 days. It was good but there was definitely room for improvement. This is the part you do not want to rush. It takes the meat from being side pork to bacon.

A good rule of thumb is to brine it for 2 days per inch of thickness.

*notes: Some sites say to keep the pork in the brine for up to a week to 10 days. My main concern is having too salty of a product leaving it that long. My suggestion is too experiment and see what works for you.

Once the pork has been brined for the adequate period you can move to the next step.

Remove the cured pork bellies from the bags and rinse well under cold water. Place the pork, rind side down in a container and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the pork for 24 hours. This step is very important. During this stage the pork is forming pellicle, the proteins are forming a skin over the meat for which the smoke will adhere to. Do not skip this stage, it is what gives the pork belly the smoky bacon flavour.

 

Getting the smoker ready!

 

Applewood is the preferred wood of choice in most of our smoking. If apple is not available cherry is the second choice. Use the kind that you like! We like the smaller wood chips and we do not wet the chips. We like a fast heavy smoke and from our experience wet chips take longer to get smoking at the level we want.  The liquid used in the smoker this time around was water. The smoker is always preheated and the meat does not go into the smoker until there is smoke. We want the meat cooked with the heat of the smoke not the heat of the smoker.

While you are waiting for smoke, get the pork belly ready for the smoker.

Have the racks in the kitchen so you can quickly get the meat into the smoker with minimal smoke loss. You want the portions of belly to have space between them so they get smoke on the entire surface of each piece. Place the pork with the rind side on top.

Making bacon at home. Smoking pork belly from Nutmeg Disrupted

Place the rack(s) into the smoker and turn down to maintain a temperature of 185 – 200 degrees. We replaced the wood chips once at the one hour mark and smoked the pork for a total of 2 hours. When it was done the racks were pulled out of the smoker and placed on paper towels to cool completely. Once cool the bacon was vacuum packed and placed in the fridge overnight to firm up and absorb the smoke. The longer you can hold off trying it the better the smoke flavour will be.

Frying applewood smoked bacon made at home from Nutmeg Disrupted

Remove the rind and slice to fry. Be sure to take note of the two bacon ends and save them for yourself. They are the smokiest most flavourful part of the bacon. If you sample a slice or two then go back to the saved bacon end you will taste the difference.

 

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Beet Leaf Holubtsi

Beet Leaf Holubtsi

When I plan my garden I have a few must have veggies that are top priority in my kitchen.

Number one on that list is beets.

Fresh beets from the garden.

Beets are the more versatile vegetable I grow. I use the entire plant, and especially love the leaves. You can use the baby leaves in salads or wash and freeze them for smoothies. But to truly enjoy them allow them to grow a little longer until they are about 2 1/2 inches wide. The perfect size for rolling them around a creamy rice, bacon, dilly onion filling.

I have been making Beet Leaf Holubtsi for years. The tender leaves make the perfect blanket for the rice with fresh dill and onions. Bacon is NOT required but makes a nice addition to the rolls.

They are finished off by topping them with a bit of butter and baking them in whipping cream with some shaved onion.

I like to pick the leaves the day before, Wash the leaves and place on sheets of paper towel to dry. Once dry I put them in a large bowl, cover it with a clean tea towel and leave them in the fridge over night. The next day you will find them lightly wilted and ready for rolling. I have read of a few methods of wilting the leaves, from freezing them to placing them in the oven. I have tried the oven method with okay but very time consuming results. Just pop them in the fridge for the night. Trust me.

 

Beet Leaf Holubtsi

beet leaves

2 cups of white rice

2 tablespoons of butter

6 slices of bacon – diced

1 medium onion – chopped

whipping cream

fresh dill

salt & pepper

Prepare the rice according to the package directions.  Meanwhile fry bacon, after 5 minutes add 1 tablespoon of butter and chopped onion. It is done when the bacon is crisp. Pour the bacon and onions, over the rice. Add a generous amount of freshly chopped dill and stir to combine. Now is a good time to season with salt and pepper.  Add a 1/4 cup of whipping cream, stirring until it all becomes creamy.

Beet leaf holubtsil filling on Nutmeg Disrupted

Place a beet leaf on a cutting board and trim the bottom part straight across to remove the stem. Place a generous teaspoon of filling on the trimmed edge of the beet leaf and roll it towards the tip. Gently place the roll in a greased/buttered baking dish. Repeat until you have used all the leaves and filling.

Beet leaf holubtsi on Nutmeg Disrupted

*They are not rolled like cabbage rolls when in when making cabbage rolls you tuck the edges in when rolling. It is fine to leave the edges of the beet leaf holubtsi open.

Beet leaf holubtsi on Nutmeg Disrupted

Pour whipping cream and a few teaspoons of shaved onion over the rolls just until lightly covered. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

 

 

 

 

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Red Lentil Bacon Corn Fritters

Red Lentil Bacon Corn Fritters

I have had a lot of fun experimenting with lentils these past few weeks. And my lentil infatuation is just as strong as it has always been. Though I am looking at them in a whole new light.

Next up is my freestyle entry for the Canadian Lentil contest with the deadline for entries just under 24 hours from tonight.

*Update: I am very pleased to announce my recipe for Red Lentil Bacon Corn Fritters was the runner up in the Canadian Lentils Recipe Revolution contest! *

My recipe choices have been quite the discussion during morning coffee at work with my bosses, everyone has made suggestions as to what I should make next. I forsee a lentil feast at our next managers dinner.

So without further ado…. I present,  Red Lentil Bacon Corn Fritters.

3/4 cup of red lentil  flour (directions for making the lentil flour can be found in my previous post for Lentil Coconut Shrimp Tacos)

1 tablespoon of all purpose flour

2 tablespoons of cornmeal

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 cup of milk

1 large egg

1 can of corn kernals

1 strips of bacon, chopped and fried

Vegetable oil, for frying

In a large bowl, stir together flours, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and cayenne.

Making Red Lentil Bacon Corn Fritters

Add milk and egg to flour mixture and stir together to create a batter. Add corn and bacon and fold to combine. Let rest for 5 minutes.

Heat 4 inches oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reaches 375 degrees. Working in batches, using  two spoons, drop batter by the tablespoon into the oil. Cook, turning occasionally, until cooked through and deep-golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes; adjust heat as needed to keep oil temperature between 350 and 360 degrees. Transfer fritters to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Season to taste with salt.

.Red Lentil Bacon Corn Fritters on Nutmeg Disrupted

I served them with maple syrup. Depending on your mood and menu you could serve them with a variety of sauces or dips.

 

 

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Creamed Bacon Lentil Soup

Creamed Bacon Lentil Soup

2014 seems to be the year of the lentil.

I started off creating recipes from The Big Book of Little Lentils cookbook. Then it was announced that Canadian Lentils  was having a recipe contest that has seemed to explode online. Everyone has gotten involved and why not. Lentils are not only amazing to cook with they are Canadian. And when you can cook with products that are grown at home that is a bonus. Plus they are inexpensive, easy to use and a power house of nutritional value.

For the Entrée round I submitted my vegetarian Lentil Chili that I posted some weeks back. It is quick, supper easy, inexpensive and full of amazing flavour.

This soup is my submission to the Free Style round.

It is rich and full of amazing flavour. It is like this luxurious warm liquid bacon hug. Perfect in every way!

Making an amazing Bacon Lentil Soup on Nutmeg Disrupted

Creamed Bacon Lentil Soup

3 Tablespoons butter

4 garlic cloves, chopped

8 shallots, chopped

1-1/2 cups red lentils lentils

10 slices of bacon, chopped

7-8 cups chicken stock

1  sprig of thyme

1 cup cream

pepper to taste

Melt the butter over med-low in dutch oven.

Making a Creamed Bacon Lentil soup on Nutneg Disrupted     resh shallots and garlic for Creamed Bacon Lentil Soup

Add the bacon and cook until almost done. Reserve a few pieces for garnish.  Add the shallots and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes until soft but not browned.

Shallots, garlic and thyme for Cremed Bacon Lentil Soup on Nutmeg Disrupted

Shallots, garlic bacon and lentils as the base for Creamed Bacon Lentil Soup

Stir in the lentils, 7 cups of chicken stock and the thyme sprig. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes until the lentils are soft.

Place a colander over a large bowl. Pour in the soup, separating the lentils from the broth. Pour the broth back into the pot. Place the lentils and bacon in the bowl of a food processor and purée. Stir in the lentil purée. Stir in the cream. Simmer over med-low heat for about 10 minutes to heat through. Add pepper to taste.  Garnish with bacon crumbles and fresh thyme.

Creamed Bacon Lentil Soup on Nutmeg Disrupted

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Bacon Onion Turnovers

Bacon Onion Turnovers

These are as good as they sound!

Eat a few or eat a lot! They are just fantastic little portable pockets of love.

I found these gems on Taste of Home many years ago and have been making them ever since.

 

Bacon Onion Turnovers – adapted from Taste of Home

3 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast

1/2 cup of warm water – 110 – 115 degrees

1 cup of warm milk – 110 – 115 degrees

1/2 cup of butter – melted

2 teaspoons of salt

3 1/2 to 4 cups of flour

1 pound of bacon, sliced,  cooked and crumbled

1 large white onion – diced

pepper to season

1 egg – lightly beaten

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, butter and salt; beat until smooth. Stir in enough flour to form a soft dough.

Dough for bacon onion turnovers.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divided into 30 pieces. Roll each into a 4-in. circle.

Bacon Onion Turnover circles.

Combine bacon and onion; place about 2 teaspoons on one side of each circle. Fold dough over filling; press edges with a fork to seal. Place 3 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 20 minutes.

Raw bacon onion turnovers rising.

Brush with egg. Bake at 425° for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks. Serve warm. Yield: 2-1/2 dozen.

Fresh Bacon Onion Turnovers.

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