You’re about to make the most delicious bacon you will ever taste.
Making your own bacon is not difficult, and the effort is absolutely worth the difference in flavor. We are fortunate to have many purveyors of artisan bacon nowadays and I have found many of them beyond tasty . . . and costly. Homemade bacon will not only save you money, but also empower you . . . and most importantly, yield serious deliciousness.
I adapted my recipe from Michael Ruhlman’s. Michael is my favorite food blogger, and one of my favorite writers in general. His recipes are sound, researched, practical and have been successful without fail for me, and his writing is witty, irreverent and funny. In my recipe I omit the preservative (mostly out of laziness) and the garlic, and tweak the herbs. I also use the collar cut of pork rather than the belly called for in Ruhlman’s and almost every other recipe you find for bacon. I got this idea from my friend and rising chef/baker/fermenter star Rose Lawrence, whose cafe Red Bread serves collar bacon. The first time I tasted it I swore there were 4 pork chops worth of flavor packed into one slice of the bacon, so I had to try to recreate it at home.
Pork collar is not commonly available at the supermarket, or even specialty butcher shops, but you can special order it at higher end grocery stores such as Bristol Farms, Gelson’s and Whole Foods. But my local farmer’s market features a butcher, Peads & Barnetts, who regularly sell the collar.
His collar comes from the curly haired Mangalitsa pigs
1 pork collar (approximately 4 lbs)
2 ounces (1/4 cup, kosher or coarse Sea Salt)
4 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
2 bay leaves, crumbled
1 tablespoon fennel seed, crushed
1/4 cup brown sugar
5 to 10 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1. Mix all ingredients (except the collar of course) together in a bowl. Rub the salt and spice mixture all over the collar. Really massage the mixture into the pork.
2. Place the collar in a large ziploc bag and close the bag . Alternatively, wrap it in heavy duty saran wrap. Place the collar on a flat surface (plate, board, cookie sheet) on top of a couple paper towels in the refrigerator for 7 days. Once or twice during the 7 days massage the pork collar (there is no need to take the collar out of the bag/wrap).
3. Unwrap the collar and “cure” in a 200 degree oven for 90 minutes. Let collar cool to room temperature, rinse off the salt and spice mixture, pat dry and place back in the refrigerator. This will firm up the collar so you can easily slice it.
4. After the collar has been in the refrigerator for 2 hours, take out and slice.
Fry up and serve with a poached egg.