My dry-cured bacon is finished. Actually, I had finished curing it several days ago but I’ve only now gotten round to taking some photos and putting them up. It looks great, if I say so myself! The rind has gone a lovely dark colour, which pleases me. It has a good flavour too, which will only improve after a few weeks hanging. I now have ALOT of bacon to use up – many a spaghetti carbonara will be enjoyed in the next couple of months I suspect, with lots of lovely crispy bacon lardons in.
To make the dry-cure mix, take about 2kg of salt (ordinary table salt will do), put into a large bowl or container. Add 1 tablespoon of crushed black peppercorns, 2-3 chopped springs of rosemary, about 4 teaspoons of salt-petre, if desired (this helps the bacon retain its pink colour when cooked) and about 200g of soft light brown sugar. This should be about enough for a 5kg piece of belly pork. Cut your (approx 5kg) piece of pork into 3 square pieces. Rub handfuls of your cure mixture into the meat, including the skin, making sure to cover every bit of it. Stack the pieces in a plastic tray (do not use metal) or cool-box and leave. After 24 hours, drain away the liquid that has leached out of the meat, and apply more cure mixture. Repeat this for 5 days.
Now, to remove some of the salt from the saturated outer layers, soak the pieces in water for 4-6 hours, replacing the water every 2 hours. Finally, hang the bacon in a cool (around 10C) dry place (such as a cellar, or utility room) to dry and mature. It should be fine for several weeks, and the flavour will become richer.