Home-cured Bacon and Scalloped Potatoes

Gareth Mark runs a blog called Stumptown Savory, and I absolutely love reading it. He posted a page on curing bacon. I liked the idea of making it myself because:

1) it’s probably better than store bought
2) I know what’s going into it
3) it’s probably fun!

So it took some time to find a place that would sell pork belly whole. Finally I discovered a butcher shop (the only one within 40 miles!!) and it’s great. They even smoke meats and have elk, bison, etc. I’m going off topic, but you get the point. I picked up a good whole pork belly and got started.

As for the curing salt, I got it from the butcher shop and it’s called “pink stuff”. Very descriptive.  It is also called “pink salt” or Prague powder. Basically, if you have curing salt, you’re good. I’m sure there are other types in stores as well.

I differed from his method only by a little bit. I added liquid smoke to the curing mix instead of brushing it on.

belly

You can trim off some fat, but I didn’t the fat renders into the meat during the smoking or roasting at the end of the process. You can always cut it off after you roast.

rub

Heres the spice rub to be put on the bacon.

It should sit in the fridge for about a week.  When it’s finished curing in the fridge (meat will be firm), you can smoke or roast it. I roasted it because I didn’t want to keep checking on the fire.

roast

Look at that goodness. And let’s check out the inside…

slice

oh yeah baby. Remember it’s cooked, but still needs to be cooked like normal bacon. The bacon you buy in the store is technically cooked, but we still fry or roast it.

Home-cured Bacon

3 lb pork belly slab
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 T molasses
2 T sea salt
1 t curing salt
2 t freshly ground pepper
1 T liquid smoke (real stuff, not imitation)

Mix up all the ingredients and rub well into both sides of the belly. Be sure to get the sides and under any loose flaps as well.

Stick it in a gallon plastic bag and put it in the fridge. Everyday, flip the bag over and rub the juices into the other side.

On roasting day, let the meat sit out for about 30 minutes or so to reach room temperature. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Roast belly for 2 hours until internal temperature is 150 degrees F. Slice it when it’s cool and you have homemade bacon.

Bacon’s for breakfast…but what’s for dinner?

How about some scalloped potatoes? Restaurant scalloped potatoes are delicious and  rich, but it’s so simple to make, why not do it at home? And just for that nostalgic feeling, we’re gunna make it in a cast iron skillet.

pre

I start with yukon golds. When it comes to scalloped potatoes, nothing else satisfies me. Yukons buttery texture and flavor just goes with the dish. I bought mine from the school’s farm. They were surprisingly large. Most Yukons are the size of my palm. These were bigger than my whole hand!

These need to be sliced thin, and nothing does it better than a mandoline. If you don’t have one, get one. It’s a small investment and they’re so useful. There are more expensive and cheaper models, this is the one I use. It was $20 at Ross, can’t go wrong. It’s very easy to clean as well.

cheese

This is a very easy recipe as it’s done in one pan.

Scalloped Potatoes

1 T butter
1 1/2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced 1/8th inch thick
1/2 medium sweet onion, diced finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t dried thyme (or 1/2 t fresh)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 bay leaf
3 oz grated cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat with butter. Add the onion when the butter is melted and cook for about 5 minutes until soft.

Add the thyme and garlic, and cook for about a minute, but don’t burn the garlic. Add some salt and pepper. Add potatoes, broth, cream, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer and cover, reduce heat to medium low, and cook for 10 minutes.

Remove cover, sprinkle top with cheese, and place skillet in oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese has become bubbly and browned. Rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

*note: you can also dice up the potatoes if you like (still thinly) if you want to be able to mix it up better in the pan.

meltd

And the best part…

bacon!!

the glorious bacon I ate the next morning for breakfast. Thick sliced, sweet smoky deliciousness.

*up next…Korean Kalbi short ribs*

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3 Responses

  1. I also live in Hawaii, wondering where you got the belly and the Prague Powder. I have up looking and ended up getting it from Amazon. Would like to know for future reference. Thanks.

    • I got my pork belly from Aala Meat Market on Waikamilo Rd. They had the best price on the phone (2.25/#). Y Hata also has it in large pieces for a little more. As for the salt, I could not find any at R Field, Williams Sonoma, Executive Chef, etc. So I ended up buying it off ebay for $6 for 8 oz including shipping. That was by far the best price. The seller was mgbargardi and the store is called Mike’s beef jerky and seasonings. With every other option I found, the shipping was more than the salt! Hope this helps

  2. Another thing you can do is smoke it instead of roasting if you have the grill or smoker. I did that a couple weeks ago and it was absolutely delicious

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