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