So I said that I'd had the folks at Sea Breeze Farm on Vashon bring me a pork belly at Sunday's market. I said, "You know, somewhere in the usual 10 lb. pork belly range."
When I opened the butcherpaper I was shocked.
I didn't get what I was expecting.
In fact, I was not prepared for the sheer amazingness of that piece of pork.
This is not the first time I've made bacon and pancetta. I seem to do it about two to three times a year, enough that we always have some in the freezer if needs be. As you can see from that link, usually a belly from a factory hog is about maybe three feet by 12-15 inches wide, by an inch to two inches thick. It also may be the only one I do this year, as like all good things it cost 2 1/2 times what a factory belly would.
This one was a monster piece of pork. Maybe 18" x 18" and at least 3" thick. Obviously this little piggy led a much longer life of carefree gluttony. Look at the corner! Jutting like a proud icebreaker of pork.
This round was to be half maple bacon, half pancetta. Right away I knew rolling it for pancetta was out the window.
Neverthelless, I cut it in half. Half got a cure with 1/4 cup of the 'Basic Cure' from Ruhlman's Charcuterie and a half cup of maple syrup. The other half got the pancetta cure from Charcuterie. They'll sit and cure for at least seven days, probably closer to nine. Then I'll smoke the maple bacon over apple and hickory.
This is gonna be good...
The pancetta was to be rolled up and hung to dry in the basement. But rolling isn't really in the cards. It's like a shoebox of meat. So I'm thinking I'll just cure it, poke a hole in a corner, and hang it to dry.
This raises the problem of where to dry it. I've got my little brewery room in the basement. Holds 64 degrees, is completely free from sunlight, and seems reasonably humid. A bit warm, but not terribly so. I'm contemplating getting a hygrometer, like for a cigar humidor, and putting it in the room. Or I've got my little dorm fridge, which I could set to 50 and put the cheap humidifier I got at the Rotary Auction in. Think I'll try the room first and watch to see if it's drying too fast or anything starts to grow on it. And if it starts to get too dry I can always get the humidifier going in there.
Eventually I'd like to start hanging some dry-cured sausages, maybe some mold-covered chorizos. I'd like to do some mold-ripened cheeses too. But those kind of things would be a bit too close to the beer for comfort. Maybe then I'll bring in the fridge.
Anyhow, update in a week or so when I smoke the maple half. This Sunday I'm going to see if they can get me a hog jowl for guanciale...
Oh, also: went down to the Ballard Market. What should I find? Ready-ground, frozen beef suet! For like $1. We all know what that means for this 4th of July... Now I just have to find someone in town who'll sell me some casings tomorrow.
Indefinite Hiatus - Well, given that it's been a year since this was last updated clearly I don't have the time I used to devote to it. So the blog is going on indefinite hiat...
5 years ago