- You had me at Bacon – Image Source sateava.us
Bacon. Such a simple word for one of the greatest culinary triumphs of the last million years. We are about to dive head long into a subject that is very dear to my heart, Bacon. A divine gift to humans from beyond, bacon is one of the few things I would never try to rethink, reassemble, rearrange, or generally do anything to, but fry it until crispy. While I will definitely use it as an ingredient in just about any recipe I can (I am still to find a recipe that can’t be pepped up with some salty pork-ness), but at the end of the day, or the beginning, or just about anytime at all, you simply cannot substitute, or improve on perfection.
- Crispy bacon strips – Image Source sateava.us
Even god gets behind, and endorses some healthy pork love. The phrase “bring home the bacon” comes from the 12th century when a church in Dunmow, England offered a side of bacon to any man who could swear before God and the congregation that he had not fought or quarreled with his wife for a year and a day. Any man that could “bring home the bacon” was highly respected in his community. So for nearly 1000 years not only has bacon been considered the divine meat of the gods, but used as an incentive to stop domestic abuse. The fact that a man will endure an entire year of wedded bliss to get some free bacon really speaks volumes of the heavenly pleasures of this salty, smoky king of foods.
Bacon is known to have been one of the oldest cuts of meat in history dating back as far as 1500BC, and etymologically means ‘meat from the back of an animal. The origin of the word bacon appears to have roots in the prehistoric germanic word ‘bak’, which is also the source of the English word (you guessed it) ‘back’. Germanic ‘bakkon’ passed into the Frankish word ‘bako’ which the French integrated into their language as ‘bacon’ which then found its way into the english vernacular around the 12th century. Originally the term referred to any type of pork, fresh or cured, but this died out by the 17th century when the British method of salting and preserving the pork became standard. Preserved pork including sides salted to make bacon held a place of primary importance in the British diet in centuries past. Peasants in Europe were know to proudly display the small amount of pork they could afford in their homes.
So aside from preventing spousal abuse, spreading the word of god, becoming a status symbol among those who otherwise had none, surviving the test of time for over 3500 years, enriching breakfast time, and just about any other time of the day or night, and spreading delicious salty, smoky, crispy pork-ness to all the children of the world, bacon also causes cancer. So you have a choice to make people, do you live a long, healthy life devoid of flavour or any basic enjoyment what-so-ever? Or do you live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful (if slightly obese) corpse. Who wants to live forever aye?
Here is the recipe for the house bacon I developed when I took my first head chef job in Melbourne. Full of naïve ambition and the freedom to run a kitchen the way I wanted to (to a certain extent) I set out to make as much of our own products as I could. This unfortunately turned out to be unsustainable as I was the only one in the kitchen who actually cared enough about the products to maintain the quality. But I did learn a lot in a short time however, and now I have the chance to pass on the the keys to pork flavour town to you. You lucky bastards!
House Made Bacon
- 500g salt
- 250g brown sugar
- 10g fennel seeds
- 5g coriander seeds
- 20g thyme chopped
- 50g garlic chopped
- 5 cloves
- 1x pork belly (3-4kg)
With a sharp knife score the pork skin. In a dry fry pan, lightly toast the spices and then grind spices in mortar and pestle. Mix all the ingredients together and spread over pork belly and cure for 4 days turning each day to ensure an even brine. Wash off cure mix and leave in the fridge uncovered for 24 hours to dry out. Smoke for the swine for 20 mins on low heat. Slice thinly, or thickly, and eat with pretty much everything. Bacon time!