Wow, sorry for the lack of posts in over a month! I’ve been away on three different trips since the middle of May, so you can imagine that doesn’t leave much time for cooking or blogging. The only cooking I got to do while I was away was with Nathan for a double-lasagna dinner for all the relatives in Wyoming, which ended in a smoky kitchen but relatively happy diners. (Hi Mary! Hi Jodi! I forget who else from Wyoming might be reading this – Hello!)

Before Wyoming, I was on this whirlwind tour of China, Singapore, and Taiwan for work. Even though the schedule was literally packed with talks and meetings, I ventured out to eat as much delicious local foods as I could. Perhaps there’ll be a future post about this … although I won’t have any recipes and will thus violate rule #1 of this blog. Before Asia, we went to Banff for our friends’ Brian and Michelle’s beautiful wedding!

To ease back into blogging, I thought I’d start with a recipe that requires not much work but does require much time and patience. We got a slab of uncured pork belly from our subscription to the meat CSA and after emailing the CSA members for ideas on what to do with it, we decided to make our own bacon!

The whole week our bacon-to-be was hanging out in our fridge, I was constantly worried that it had a weird, grayish tone since supposedly, one reason you add sodium nitrite is to keep the meat pink. So because the meat was not pink, I thought I must have not added enough sodium nitrite and that we will certainly get food poisoning from eating our own bacon (because the other, more important reason you add sodium nitrite is to prevent botulism). But after slowly roasting in the oven, the bacon came out beautifully pink and gorgeous and it turned out Nathan’s right (again) that I worry too much.

I’ll follow up this post with a recipe using said bacon soon. The only major note about this bacon is that it’s quite salty so it’s best used it in a dish rather than eating on its own, breakfast-style.

This recipe was adapted from “Charcuterie” by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. Our pork belly was not 5-lb, so we scaled down appropriately.

1 5-lb slab pork belly
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons sodium nitrite (can be bought online)
3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
4 bay leaves, crumbled
4 or 5 sprigs fresh thyme

Combine garlic, sodium nitrite, salt, sugar, pepper and bay leaves in small bowl. Mix well.

Place pork in ziploc bag. Add spices and thyme sprigs and rub over belly to give it a uniform coating. Seal bag and refrigerate for 7 days, occasionally rubbing meat to redistribute seasonings, and turning bag over every other day.

Remove belly from cure, rinse well and pat dry with paper towels. Discard cure and plastic bag.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place belly on rack on a baking sheet. Roast until it reaches internal temperature of 150 degrees, about 2 hours. Begin checking temperature after 1 hour. While fat is hot, slice off rind (you can save this for stocks and stews). Cool to room temperature.

Wrap well and refrigerate until chilled. At this point, you can keep bacon refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or cut into portions (chunks, slices, whatever) and store frozen for up to 3 months.