Heather's Smoked Bacon
Chef Heather Goulde-Hawke at District, a new watering hole on 11th Ave. S.W., makes her bacon without nitrites. After curing, cut the bacon into useful-sized pieces and wrap well for freezing. Gould-Hawke likes the additional flavour that accrues when she leaves the rind on the pork belly (bacon comes from the pork belly). This recipe needs a smoker and a fruit wood, like cherry or apple.
Chef’s note: if you don’t have a smoker, it takes a little trouble to smoke pork belly over indirect heat on a closed barbecue for a minimum of 6 hours, but it can be done. Engineer your barbecue so that soaked wood chips in a pan are on one side of the grill, while the pork belly sits on the other side on the rack over very low heat. Most butchers carry pork bellies.
4 T. maple syrup
2 lb. pork belly, any ragged edges trimmed, rind on
4 oz. kosher salt by weight (about 1 c.)
2 oz. demerara sugar by weight (about 1/2 c.)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 t. minced thyme
cracked black pepper to taste
Rub the syrup onto the pork. Mix together the remaining ingredients – the cure – on a tray. Dip the meat into the cure to coat all surfaces and shake off any residue that does not cling. Put the meat into a waterproof plastic bag in the fridge for 5 to 7 days, turning daily. On the final day, rinse well under cold water and pat dry. Let stand, uncovered, to air-dry in the fridge for up to 48 hours to develop the sticky texture that allows smoke to penetrate. Don’t skip this step. Smoke the pork belly for 6 to 8 hours over very low heat. Cool and wrap. Fry to use. Makes 2 lbs.