|My homemade maple bacon.|
Charcutepalooza. If you follow the food scene, you know what it is. It's a year-long celebration of meat. It's to embrace all things related to home curing. It's well over 200 bloggers brought together by Cathy of Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Kitchen and Kim of The Yummy Mummy. It's a beautiful thing.
I hopped on board late, picking up when the second challenge was announced (the first was duck prosciutto, look for it in the coming months). This challenge (the salt cure) not only enticed me, but the husband. You know he's a self-professed bacon fanatic. So, when he heard I was considering making my own bacon, he, of course was on board.
Now, all the newbie questions and fears came to mind. Will I poison myself? Will I poison someone else? Will I accidentally spill toxic pink curing salt all over the floor and kill the pugs? *ALL* of these fears are silly. I bought the bible for home curers - Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman. Michael put all my fears to rest. Seriously, curing meat for longer life is an ancient tradition, one ANYONE, and I
mean ANYONE can pull off at home.
I grabbed my copy of Charcuterie, ordered my pink salt and then emailed Kellie Brook Farm in Greenland, NH (about 20 minutes from my house) for my pork belly. Tim Rocha there could not have been nicer. He dropped off my beautiful 7-pound pork belly where I pick my CSA share up and I was off.
I sliced that baby into three. I made a maple bacon and a savory one. I also tackled the pancetta but that's still hanging, so you'll have to wait for that. I made my basic cure, I trimmed then dredged my belly in it and off it went into my massive zip lock bags to cure in the fridge for a week.
|Ready to cure in the fridge|
|Slicing it up.|
This Charcutepalooza Challenge for February will end up being done in three parts, there's just too much bacon-y goodness to go around. The first two parts will be known as "The Bacon Brunch". I begin with the maple bacon, because frankly, it's my favorite so far. Maybe the pancetta will blow me away, but for right now, I give you a scone that's just not right. I mean, "not right" in a good way. Hide the children and the husband, you're going to want a plate of these for your own.
Maple Bacon Cheddar Scones
Base scone recipe from Cooking Light
Makes: 12 scones
2 cups all-purpose flour (9 ounces)
3 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg white
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 thick slices of maple bacon
1/2 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (I used Cabot's Extra Sharp)
Glaze: (for a more savory scone, just skip the glaze)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons milk
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
Now, let's get to the bacon shall we? Let's fry that loveliness up.
Now let's chop it up into nice little pieces.
Now take those little morsels of goodness, transfer them to a paper-towel lined plate so they dry up just a bit.
Now, let's continue on making our scones, shall we?
In a large bowl, combine your flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder and salt and whisk it all up. Now, transfer that mixture to a food processor (or you can keep it in the bowl if you're going to cut in the butter by hand with a pastry blender or two knives) and add your chilled butter in there. Pulse several times until the butter is incorporated, making the mixture look like coarse cornmeal.
Now transfer that mixture back to your large bowl and add your milk, vanilla, egg white and maple syrup into the mix. Stir until just moist. Now, add your diced bacon and your cheese and knead until both are fully incorporated.
|Ready for the oven.|
Pat dough into an 8-inch circle on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cut dough into 12 wedges, cutting into but not through dough.
Whichever way you choose, you're now ready to pop your scone pan or your baking sheet into the oven. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, or until the tops are golden. Transfer to a wire baking rack to cool.
|Applying the glaze.|
Oh, and we are NOT done with bacon, not at all....
What's that you ask? Oh that's the savory slab of bacon I made. It's going to be the other part of brunch, a winter quiche. And that's not all...
|Pancetta before the cure.|