Before we start the Cat's Brief has pointed out that I should say lots of things along the lines of "if you try this don't blame me if it goes wrong and you get ill or die". I'd like to add that Tesco or Danepak definitely don't produce their bacon this way but the stuff Great Grandma and Grandpa used to eat certainly came from a process like this.
So where do I start; a piece of pork loin has been dry cured in a salt/sugar/spice cure for about 6 days. It has been soaked in water for about an hour then dried, wrapped and hung in the garage for a further 8 days. Here it is in its nice little muslin jacket
It is unwrapped and a hook is inserted ..........
...... and then hung from a rod in the chimney.
|What part of Santa is that ?|
In the hearth a small charcoal fire is lit. No coal is used as that will taint the meat. Once the charcoal has that barbecue ready look it is raked out and a good couple of handfuls of oak sawdust is thrown on top. This is the point where it gets counter intuitive. Before I started smoking I spent my life lighting fires that burn beautifully. When smoking you want a fire that smoulders; enough heat to cause the sawdust to smoke but not too much or the meat will cook not smoke.
And that is all there is to it. Tend the fire for the next three or four hours adding more fuel or sawdust as necessary or damping down with a water spray if flames appear.
Here it is after smoking. The colour change is a result of the smoking process and can be quite marked depending on how long the cut is smoked for. The one thing that I cannot convey is the smell. An amazing smoky aroma with an element of cooling bonfire.
All that is left to do now is slice it and eat it or refrigerate or freeze.
The taste is fantastic.You can pick up the sweet and saltiness of the cure accompanied by the peppercorns and bay leaves, the smoke is there too but there is still a remnant of pork flavour. It doesn't just have that commercial homogenous bacon flavour.