Yeah, so this isn’t bacon cooked with maple and cinnamon, this is bacon CURED with maple and cinnamon. That’s right, today we’re going to cure our own bacon! Just to let you know, this bacon isn’t likely to save you money (unless you can get a raging good deal on pork belly) but you will get the tastiest bacon you could ever hope to find in your mouth. I’m a huge fan of the sweet and salty combo but you can replace the maple syrup and cinnamon with garlic cloves and cracked peppercorns for a more savoury bacon. I first tried this bacon because I have grand dreams of salting and smoking meats like a regular Italian nonna but the humid climate of Queensland will forever be keeping me down. Solution? Fridge curing. The process is easy and you barley have to pay attention to the bacon once it’s in the fridge, just flip it and pat it a little so it knows that you care.
Word of warning, pink salt is not normal salt so do not eat it! It also goes by the name Prague Powder #1 and is composed of sodium nitrite and table salt. I bought mine online but it arrived to me opened and taped shut again, so I have a feeling that it could be used for nefarious purposes and I’m now on some kind of government watch list. Don’t be scared of the pink salt, just label it carefully so that no one in your household uses it to season a steak by accident. At the time I could only find it in 500g quantities but I make this bacon once or twice a year so it’s definitely not going to waste.
Maple and Cinnamon Bacon
Adapted from Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s Fresh Bacon from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing.
Basic Dry Cure:
225g kosher or sea salt
112g caster sugar
25g pink salt
Combine and mix well, will keep in an airtight container indefinitely.
1.25-2.25kg slab of pork belly, skin on
enough Dry Cure for dredging, approx. 1/4 cup
1/2 cup maple syrup
6 cinnamon sticks
5 splashes of liquid smoke
Spread the dry cure on a baking tray large enough to hold your pork belly, press all sides of the belly into the cure making sure that it is uniformly covered in a thick coating.
Place the pork belly in an extra large ziplock bag along with the maple syrup, cinnamon sticks and liquid smoke, close the ziplock bag.
If you are concerned about your first bag splitting, place it into a second ziplock bag for peace of mind.
Place the pork belly on a large tray and refrigerate for 7 days, flipping the bag every second day for equal distribution of the liquid.
After a week check the pork belly for firmness, if it feels firm at its thickest point then it is ready, if not then you can refrigerate for up to 2 more days.
Remove the pork belly from it’s bag and rinse it thoroughly, then pat dry with paper towels (you can now discard the curing liquid).
Preheat the oven to 93 C and roast the pork belly until its internal temperature reaches 65 C, which will take about 2 hours (start taking its temperature at 1 1/2 hours).
Remove the rind while the bacon is still hot, discard or keep to use in soups and stews.
Allow the bacon to cool to room temperature then wrap well and place in the fridge until chilled.
Slice off a small piece and cook it, taste to assess saltiness (remember that small end pieces may be saltier than the rest of the bacon).
If your bacon is too salty, blanch it in boiling water for 1 minute before cooking to reduce the saltiness.
The bacon will last for up to 2 weeks in the fridge or cut it into slices and lardons and freeze for up to 3 months.