By the time my participation in Charcutepalooza became official, I had already missed the January (duck prosciutto) and February (bacon) challenges. I have made both previously, but in the spirit of the challenge I thought it only fair that I make each again. I was happy to repeat the duck prosciutto recipe with no variation since my first batch could have cured for longer. Repeating bacon, on the other hand, required a new approach.
That’s when I saw this post at cookblog. It hadn’t occurred to me to use miso as a cure, nor had it occurred to me to use bacon as the main component of a savory course. After asking about the proportion of miso to maple syrup in the cure – and getting zinged about my previous run-in with the Somerville FD (“make extra for the firemen”) – I was ready to give the cure a try with a smaller chunk of pork belly I had lying around in the Deep Storage Facility. I started with a quarter cup of grade B syrup (New Englanders all know grade B is the better, stronger stuff), a half cup of shiro (white) miso, and a little over a pound of pork belly.
I mixed the miso and syrup together, then generously slathered it over the pork.
I placed the belly in a plastic bag, then let it rest in the fridge, where it got turned once a day for a week. When the belly felt considerably firmer, I removed it from the bag and rinsed off the cure. (And while I’m on the subject, why can’t I get generously slathered and then turned once a day?)
After a few hours of (incident-less) exposure to cherrywood smoke, the bacon was finished.
I removed the skin while the slab was still warm (of course I saved it), and stored the bacon in the fridge until I could figure out what to do with it. While preparing for the roast chicken buns it occurred to me that the bacon could be treated like roasted pork belly. I cut it into thick slabs and crisped them up on the stove.
They became one of the components of the steamed buns dinner.
The bacon buns stole the spotlight from the chicken, with the miso and smoke cutting through the aggressive hoisin/sriracha combination. He Who Will Not Be Ignored cut to the heart of the issue as usual, asking “Why did you bother with the chicken?”
My only regret is using such a small slab of pork to begin with. I have enough left for a breakfast garnish (slow-poached eggs with miso butter and miso bacon, perhaps) before I have to risk once again running afoul of the law. But it will be worth it.