Commercial Record

Maggie’s Pantry

By Maggie Conklin
Makin’ Bacon
My dear husband has annual health checkups with local boy/now man done good, Dr. Jason Meyers,
They were perusing my husband’s current blood work when Dr. Meyers noticed the total cholesterol scores. “Gee, your cholesterol has always been good, but it’s really gone up since last time. What do you think is causing it?”
To which my husband replied, “Well, my wife loves bacon, we’ve been eating a lot more of it and a lot less oatmeal for breakfast lately.”
That’s right; my not-so-dear husband threw me under the bus! So I’ve started making steel-cut oatmeal for breakfast four times a week instead of once or twice a week.
But, but … bacon!
I don’t always make my own, but when I do it’s incredible. It’s also so easy!
3 to 3.5 lbs. pork belly
2 Tbsp. pink Himalayan salt
2 Tbsp. “chunky” sea salt
1 tsp. raw sugar
½ tsp. cloves
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. black pepper
Look for the largest chunks of Himalayan salt, sea salt and raw sugar. The larger they are ground, the slower they melt and the better the end result.
Put the above spices in a 1-gallon freezer zip bag, shake to mix, then place the pork belly in the bag and zip shut. Shake and rub the curing spices until the meat is completely and evenly covered.
You might as well turn on some disco music and dance while you’re shaking it, because if you’re doing it right, that’s what you’ll look like you’re doing anyway.
Place bag on flat surface in ‘fridge. Every day shake and rub the bag, then flip it over and replace it in the ‘fridge.
In 5 to 8 days it will feel firm. If the pork is less than 1.5” thick, then it will be done closer to 5 to 6 days; if it’s 2” or thicker then it will be closer to 7 to 8 days. You will know when it’s done because you will pick it up and it will feel firm; quite different than the slightly =-squishy consistency it was the day before.
At this point it is cured. Take it out of the bag, rinse off all the spices under running water and pat dry with paper towels. Throw away the zip bag and paper towels.
Bake in oven (or smoker or grill) at 200˚F until internal thermometer reads 150˚F (about 2 hours). It is not fully cooked at this point. It should have an appealing aroma and be firm to the touch. Slice off a few pieces and fry up in a pan. Yummy!
The balance should keep in the ‘fridge for up to 2 weeks, but you’ll eat it before then. Only slice off what you are about to cook.
If it’s too salty, you cured it too long. No worries! Just boil the chunk in water for 5 minutes to leach out the excess salt. Pat dry again, and store in ‘fridge.
And yes, I do have “Makin’ Bacon kits” at LadyHawk Nutrition, which includes everything except the pork belly.
I’m curious to see how much lower my not-so-dear husband’s cholesterol is after a year of depriving me of all the bacon I want.

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