As a child one of the biggest treats we would get was breakfast in bed. My mother always made sure that we got breakfast in bed on our birthday's and always made sure we got something special, just for us. On my birthdays that something specials was usually a full half pound of bacon. There were five of us in my family so usually when we had bacon we would only get two or three pieces. On my birthday however I was king for a moment and got eight or nine pieces of bacon, it was awesome.
Bacon is one of those things that people crave, people love bacon and bacon goes well on everything and makes any dish better. Certain cultures and religions don't allow the consumption of pork but bacon has caused many of those people to break their own beliefs. There are vegetarians out there that eat bacon and for those that won't they invented tofu bacon. The point is that bacon could very easily be considered the center of the culinary universe. Bacon is like making love, sometimes it is really, really good and sometimes it is just good, but it is never bad.
In past posts on this blog I have used bacon or a form of bacon in many different dishes from carbonara to ice cream. The one thing I haven't done is make bacon. So as I was digging through what little I have in my freezer I found a bag labeled wild boar belly. I had gotten some wild boar from a friend of mine and had done some pancetta and guanciale and a whole suckling wild boar but I had forgotten about this last bag. The previous bag of wild boar bellies were very small and did not have a lot of fat or meat to them. So when I thawed out this bag I figured it would have two or three small bellies in it as well. To my great surprise It ended up being one thick beautiful three pound belly. I knew instantly what I was going to do with it.
I put together a very simple cure of brown sugar, salt and instacure to cure the belly. after rubbing it all over the belly I put it into the fridge and then had to turn it every other day for the recommended seven to ten days. After eight days the belly was stiff to the touch and needed to be rinsed, soaked in water for thirty minutes and then hung in the fridge for 24 hours to form a pellicle. After that it just needed to be smoked to an internal temperature of 165 F. This is where I had to get creative, I don't own a regular smoker and all I have is a stove top smoker so I filled it with applewood shavings and set the oven to 180. I started it on the stove top to get the wood smoking then moved it to the oven, every half hour or so I would take it out and put it back on the stove top to get the smoke going again. After three hours I reached the right internal temp and ended up with a very beautiful looking slab of bacon.
My very first home cured bacon turned out perfect from a visual stand point, now all I had to do was slice of a few pieces and give it a taste test. Wild boar fat is much more potent that domestic pig and has a stronger flavor. The cure work amazingly and I could taste the brown sugar and salt. Sadly it wasn't as smoky as I would have like it to be. It had a decent smoke flavor but wasn't as much as I would have liked. Overall though I have to say it was a success, I had cured my own bacon and it was good. The only thing I would change would be the smoke, but now I have an excuse to go by a smoker, my method didn't quite work as well as I had hoped.