Home-cured Bacon

ivoryhut home-cured bacon

Ever since Michael Ruhlman wrote about home-cured bacon, I’d been wanting to take a crack at it. As a dutiful Filipino, I’m no stranger to pork belly. We slice it thick and grill it, cut it into large cubes and make adobo or sinigang (a tamarind-flavored soup, the Filipino version of tom yum), or we dice it up and serve it with fried tofu cubes and a soy-vinegar-garlic dipping sauce.

Filipinos love pork. Don’t even get me started on sisig, which takes the pork love to a whole different level.

I haven’t cooked pork in a while because Tom doesn’t eat pork. (You can send him your sympathy cards later.) It’s a taste he’s never acquired because he never had it growing up, in the same way I don’t really care for lamb or goat cheese because that gamey flavor is just completely foreign to me. (Okay, you might want to send those sympathy cards to me instead.)

So when we walked into an Italian grocery and I spied a hunk of pork belly in the meat section, I got excited. Then I got worried. Then I gingerly held a package in my hands, walked up to Tom, and with the most irresistible expression I could muster, I asked if he would be okay with me attempting to make bacon at home. I even batted my stubby eyelashes to hedge my chances. Then he said, “Of course, go right ahead!” and I kicked myself for not having done this sooner.

Michael Ruhlman’s recipe for home-cured bacon is so simple and the only specialty item you need is pink curing salt. It was so inexpensive that I ordered a large bag of it, along with some other kinds of curing salts. Since curing 5 pounds of meat only calls for a mere 2 teaspoons of curing salt, I eventually realized I may have been a tad overzealous with my order. (But then Elise of Simply Recipes put up a post on making her own corned beef following Ruhlman’s instructions, so I’m glad I’m set for that, too.)

The method is so simple, I think I spent a lot more time telling everyone that I was curing my own bacon at home than I did actually making the bacon.

It was also a good way to use up the hardened pebbles of brown sugar in my cupboard.

ivoryhut home-cured bacon

Just rub the pork belly down with the spices, put it in a bag, and let it cure in your refrigerator.

ivoryhut home-cured bacon

After a week of curing in the refrigerator, simply rinse off the salt and spices and set that beautiful slab in the oven.

ivoryhut home-cured bacon

I used a meat thermometer to alert me when it reached an internal temperature of 150ºF.

ivoryhut home-cured bacon

Isn’t she pretty?

ivoryhut home-cured bacon

Ruhlman says to let it cool and then store in the refrigerator. Then he adds, “I know. You won’t be able to wait. So cut off a piece and cook it.”

Oh yes. I was, indeed, incapable of waiting.

ivoryhut home-cured bacon

I was obviously too excited to slice thinly and uniformly. I justified this by saying I was simply trying to even out both sides to make it easier to get nice slices next time.

ivoryhut home-cured bacon

I stood there watching the bacon cook, proud of my accomplishment. I couldn’t wait to try it, so to keep the impatience at bay, I tried to take photos instead.

ivoryhut home-cured bacon

I may have spent too long snapping shots and let the edges char. Oops.

And because I’m a dutiful Filipino, I grabbed a bowl of white rice, plopped that bacon on top of it, sprinkled it with some parsley and a squeeze of lemon, and sat down to enjoy my lunch.

ivoryhut home-cured bacon

Tom saw the photo above, looked at me and asked, “You ate bacon with rice for lunch today?” I replied, “Uh-huh. It was good.” Then he shook his head, and muttered, “Shameless.”

Then I sent the photo to another friend, who responded, “Two words: HOLY CRAP.”

It tastes so much better than what you normally get at the supermarket. I thought I’d sorely miss the smoked taste of store-bought bacon, but this had more than enough flavor to make up for it.

(The pork belly I got had a rib or two underneath it, and I just lopped that off. Then I used it instead of a ham hock and made a killer split pea soup for dinner that night.)

Lesson learned: listen to Michael Ruhlman. Next on my agenda: his corned beef and maybe even some home-cured pancetta. Or maybe I should just work my way through his book, Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing.

ivoryhut home-cured bacon Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman

Here is the link to Michael Ruhlman’s Home-cured Bacon. Go get yourself some pork belly, and make this. It’s not only worth the wait, but you also get to do what I did: make the 7-day-long curing period more interesting by announcing to everyone you know that you’re making your own bacon at home.

Note: If you have concerns about home curing, read Ruhlman’s excellent post on Food Safety and Common Sense.


23 Responses to Home-cured Bacon
  1. BeccaV
    March 10, 2011 | 3:25 pm

    One word for you…AWESOME!!
    Ok, more than one word.
    Can’t wait to try this! Who knew making your own bacon (ha, ha) could be so easy.

  2. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite
    March 10, 2011 | 6:04 pm

    You need to join Charcutepalooza!!!!! Gorgeous photos and I love that you had bacon and rice for lunch. Protein and carbs (oh and some greens there in the parsley) – you’re set!

    • ivoryhut
      March 10, 2011 | 6:13 pm

      A balanced meal, right?

      Off to Google this Charcutepalooza. It sounds like something I should be doing!

  3. Wenderly
    March 10, 2011 | 6:09 pm

    Oh. My. I never knew bacon could look so good.

    Splendid in every way. That’s it. I’m selling my house in suburbia and moving to the farm. Then I’m buying a pig.

    The End.

  4. Ethan
    March 10, 2011 | 6:10 pm

    I concur with Mardi! Join the meat fest that is #Charcutepalooza.
    The bacon, your pictures are incredible as always.

  5. Lori @ RecipeGirl
    March 10, 2011 | 6:13 pm

    What a gorgeous post! Now I MUST do this!!!

  6. Aly ~ Cooking In Stilettos
    March 10, 2011 | 6:21 pm

    Ok – this I REALLY need to try. Can I amend my 2011 culinary goals? Thanks for posting – the pictures are fabulous!

  7. Sherri M
    March 11, 2011 | 10:14 pm

    Looks so awesome, I’m gonna have to try this! I always hesitated because I wasn’t sure I’d love it without the smokiness, but your pictures make it look wonderful Thanks for the post.

  8. Melanie
    March 14, 2011 | 12:09 pm

    Yum. I made some really excellent pork to go with ramen after our latest trip to NYC/NJ and of course Mitsuwa!

  9. Brooke
    March 15, 2011 | 10:37 am

    Oh my – my mouth is watering! I can smell the aroma from here!

  10. Briana
    March 15, 2011 | 11:27 am

    Curing your own bacon! So impressive :) Thanks for sharing!! (PS bacon and rice totally counts as a balanced meal in my book!)

  11. Joy
    March 15, 2011 | 10:40 pm

    That is so cool that you made bacon.

  12. Shalum
    March 17, 2011 | 11:35 am

    Wow! Galing! ;)

  13. Hotels in Brugge
    March 18, 2011 | 3:06 am

    OMG!! Really Lovely and colorful recipes . interesting this post and testy food. watering in my mouth hehehe….cool ideas for recipes and Lovely posting so thanks

  14. chef_d
    March 21, 2011 | 9:49 pm

    Wow, that looks so delicious! I’ve always believed home-cured meats taste better than commercial ones! I love love love your pictures! Great job!

  15. mariqia
    March 24, 2011 | 8:59 pm

    Very tasty!

  16. ela
    March 26, 2011 | 12:27 am

    Nakakatakam! Can I have Tom’s share?

  17. Linda
    March 27, 2011 | 3:00 am

    Oh my. I am going to buy some pork belly and try this right away! I love homemade breakfast meats. (We tried making homemade longanisa recently – much less pink but still awesome). Thanks for this recipe and the other inspiration you provide!

  18. Raqs
    March 29, 2011 | 6:42 pm

    that’s looks so yummy.. sweeter version might taste like tocino. I just had bacon n rice the other day …coz I’m Filipino too! LOL!

  19. Maggy@ThreeManyCooks
    March 30, 2011 | 4:59 pm

    That’s my response too. Holy Crap!

  20. Exam Result 2011
    April 8, 2011 | 5:54 am

    Oh My God !! It looks so delicious. watering in my mouth and its very colorful recipes. i just try make this food . fantastic this post yummy

  21. Natural Easter Egg Dye | One Hungry Mama
    April 14, 2011 | 11:24 am

    […] recipes (hello Ricotta Fritters!); they remind me that I can take on any kitchen project, even curing bacon at home; and also that, if I allow them to be, my kids can be completely fearless about food, too; they […]

  22. Tia G
    October 30, 2011 | 12:47 am

    Home cured bacon! Who knew! I can just smell it sizzling from your photos.

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about me

I write, cook, play music, and make pictures. Not necessarily in that order. I was born and raised in the Philippines, and it shows. That means I eat rice with every meal, love my cousins like my own siblings, and firmly believe that avocados are best eaten with cream and sugar.

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One summer night in 2010, our house burned to the ground and we lost everything we had. This is the story of what happened and how life and hope can always rise from ashes.