Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Love of Bacon

My love of bacon has taken me in many different culinary directions. 
See Heavenly Bacon

First of all I do not eat pork or as we tribesmen say Treif. What do we do then? We find an alternative or we make our own. I have eaten lots of Turkey Bacon which in my opinion is a poor substitute if you ask me.   

I have eaten great Beef bacon but it's not available everywhere and somewhat expensive. I have see kosher beef bacon as high as 7 bucks for 4 oz.

What is a Jew to do? Hey lets make our own beef bacon. This of course requires lots of research. Last thing you want to do is kill someone because you improperly cured your meat. If you do not cure the the meat properly you risk creating the  Botulism toxin. If you hot smoke the bacon which I do not recommend (to much fat rendering) than curing is unnecessary but my incredible bacon is cold smoked.

Beef Bacon

12 lbs of boneless short rib or boneless beef plate.   I prefer Beef plate because it has more fat. The short rib can be purchased at Costco. The beef plate can be purchased at a traditional butcher chop such as  Stewarts Meat Market. Note: You can any amount of meat just remember to adjust the recipe.

If using a beef plate (DE-bone) and cut in half. If using boneless short rib it's the perfect size for bacon. In the future I am going to use Veal Plate which is more tender than beef plate.

Two bulk basic cure options which work for any meat. 
Dry cure # 1
1 lb of Kosher salt or 453.592 g
8 ounces of sugar or 226.796 g
2 ounces of pink salt or 56.699 g.  Also known as Prague powder or instacure #1  
Dry cure # 2
1 lb of Kosher salt or 453.592 g
13 ounces of Dextrose or 368.544 g
3 ounces of pink salt or 85.0486 grams

NOTE: I make a huge batch because shelf life is indefinite. Remember you are not making the above cures for one piece of meat but rather a batch to be used multiple times. 

Coat meat thoroughly with Dry Cure. Note- no exact measurements. Just coat thoroughly getting every nook and cranny covered.

Equilibrium Curing and ingredients Calculations. 

Instead of making bulk cures you can calculate quantity of Salt (or ingredient) based on the percentage of meat weight to the ingredient. In most cases I use 2.75%-3.5% of salt and .25% of cure #1 or #2 for a given recipe. By using percentages of ingredients to the meat weight we are able to calculate any desired amounts. 

Note 1: The weight of meat plus fat is 100%. All ingredients to be added are expressed as a percentage of the weight of meat plus fat. Percentages can be used to standardize recipes regardless of batch size.  All weights are metric. 

Note 2: No weights are given because the weights of meats vary. Everything is a percentage of the meats weight after trimming. Example- Meat weight 2393 grams and we want to find out the amount of salt we need in grams- 2393 X 3.5%=83.755 or 2392/100 X 3.5 =83.755 grams. 


Personal Flavor Profile

13 ounces of brown sugar
13 ounces of maple syrup
optional- 2 tablespoons of liquid smoke ( if you plan on cold smoking for 3-6 hours this is unnecessary.
5 tablespoons of minced garlic
9 bay leafs crushed
2 table spoons of crushed pepper corns

Note- use anything you want. Bourbon, Rum or juniper berries.  Let your imagination go crazy.

NOTE: The above flavor profile is just that personal.  Remember the above recipe is a ratio to ingredients.  If you were only curing a 2 lb piece of meat you would not use the whole thing.  

.After you give your meat a thorough coating of your personal flavor profile (as much or as little as you want)
place meat in Vacuum sealed bag. If you do not have a machine use a very strong zip lock bag. Massage meat in bad to evenly distribute cure and flavors. 

Rotate bags in refrigerator (34-37 degrees) every 12-24 hours.  Cure 7-10 days in refrigerator.  At day seven the meat should feel firm and if you find that is is to soft just leave in for a few extra days.  The days are very arbitrary.  It all has to do with the thickness of the meat. You cannot over cure using this method.  It's the Sous Vide of curing. This method is very similar to the Equilibrium salt cure vs the excess salt version. 

                  cured beef plate

After Meat is Cured
Remove from refrigerator and rinse thoroughly and dry off.    Place a fan on highest setting and point it directly toward meat to dry (both sides). It should take about an hour.or two.  The goal is to develop a Pellicle.
Before cured foods are smoked, they should be allowed to air-dry long enough to form a tacky skin, known as a pellicle. The pellicle plays a key role in producing excellent smoked items. It acts as a kind of protective barrier for the food, and also plays an important role in capturing the smoke’s flavor and color.

Most foods can be properly dried by placing them on racks or by hanging them on hooks or sticks. It is important that air be able to flow around all sides. They should be air-dried uncovered, in the refrigerator or a cool room. To encourage pellicle formation, you can place the foods so that a fan blows air over them. The exterior of the item must be sufficiently dry if the smoke is to adhere.

Now on to cold smoking

I am not going to give you a lesson in cold smoking but I will tell you what I do.  

There are many cold smoker setups to consider and you will have to decide for yourself what you want to do.  You can use just about anything.   The picture to the left shows  a box that is has a door and a smoke stack.  If you look closely there is a tray that contains a brick of ice that helps keep the temp down in the summer time.  Below the tray is the A-MAZE-PELLET-SMOKER-TRAY.    The is an awesome and easy way to set up a cold smoker and generates very little heat. 
my Sophie holding the Smoke-Daddy

Below is my WSM 22.5 smoker which I also use for cold and hot smoking.  You can place your A-AMAZE-PELLET-SMOKER-TRAY on the bottom of the pit and smoke away.  Easy set up and and it does a great job too.

You can also attach a SMOKE DADDY to your WSM and take it to the next level like I have done. Obviously not seen in photo.  I will replace this pic with the smoke daddy attached to the WSM so you can see what it looks like at a later time. 

You can build a simple cold smoker from a card board box if you want have the gumption.  It's all up to you.   



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