The Bacon Gospel : Bacon for Brooklyn III

I was convinced by a few people to do one more small cure while I am still in Brooklyn. I had some of those great sourced items I wrote about in The Bacon Gospel : Bacon for Brooklyn, just begging to be used. I began dreaming of curing with jasmine tea from China and honey from India back during the first big cure a few weeks back. So I just had to do a couple of slabs of Jasmine Tea & Lemon. I was so pleased with the flavors the tea infused the bacon with, which is great because I was crossing my fingers all week that floral bacon was a good idea (this is experimental curing, after all!). It was more than a good idea, it was absolutely one of my best flavors so far!

After his second request, I am now somewhat in awe of the palate of one of my oldest friends. Last month when he requested Horseradish-Lemon-Turmeric I remember giving him a doubtful look. Horseradish-cured bacon? However, it turned out to be a delicious, warm flavor combo. A fellow native of the Pacific Northwest, he this time asked for Honey & Pine, yes pine. Where would I find pine that I trusted for curing here in Brooklyn? Lucky for us both, I recently spent a long weekend in the Berkshires. There I found the freshest, most pine-y branches to bring back and use. I was very curious to find out what that slab would taste like. Sweet? Bitter? Neither actually. It turned out to be woodsy and meaty, and what I can only describe as refreshing, not a word often used in reference to bacon.

I did another Brandy-cured slab, this time combining Armagnac, Vermont maple syrup, black pepper, cinnamon and other spices. I really enjoy the way the sugars in the liquors I've used caramelize once cooked. The aromas are beyond enticing. I want to do many, many more flavors featuring liquor of different types. Tequila bacon is a distinct possibility in the near future.

The last flavor is Chinese 5-Spice. The aromas are pretty crazy on this one, too. This is one I've done a few times before and is my girlfriend's favorite. 5-Spice is a combination of pork's best spice friends and Sichuan peppers, special little peppercorn husks, that add a completely unique fruity heat.

*Brandy & Maple
*Jasmine Tea & Lemon
* Honey & Pine
* Chinese 5-Spice

All told, I cured over 40 lbs of bacon in 14 flavors during the Brooklyn leg of this project! At this rate I'll hit my goal of 100 flavors much sooner than anticipated!


The Bacon Gospel : Bacon for Brooklyn II

Sometimes you have a big idea that gets bigger and bigger, and then explodes in disappointment all over you. But sometimes you have a big idea that gets so big it takes on a life of it own, leaving you to simply work out the details. The Bacon Gospel has been one such an idea. All 16 slabs of bacon came out absolutely beautiful! I was a little nervous about some of the ingredients-- curing bacon in liquor, fruit and horseradish seemed like a bit of a risk, but they each had incredibly complex flavors and aromas, making me one proud charcutier. Now that this first segment of The Bacon Gospel is complete, I am even more excited for this project to continue.

What really surprised me was how much the curing process changed the flavors of the slabs in different ways. Some flavors that I thought would be intense, like horseradish and scotch bonnets, became soft and nuanced. Conversely, flavors that I was sure would be lost came shining through, the strawberries being the best example. Another unexpected effect from the berries was the deep red color of the meat. Because I cure without the use of nitrates/nitrites, the meat does not usually retain a pink color after curing. This is fine and doesn't effect the taste or quality of the bacon whatsoever. But the slabs made with blackberries and strawberries had such amazing color, even after cooking!

I took all 32 lbs in to work to slice them up and taste test with co-workers. The mixture of smells from the slabs of mole, berries, jerk, turmeric, rum and more was intoxicating, so much so that people were actually coming in from the street to find out what we were cooking! One participant even started a blog after tasting his 3 slabs, complete with photos and tasting notes! Check it out at culinaryempiricism.blogspot.com

Thanks to all who participated in The Bacon Gospel : Bacon for Brooklyn!

Up next...
Bacon for the Sound and BCN for PDX in August!! Start sending in your flavor requests now!!