Bacon. America’s love affair with this smoky, sweet meat has taken a new direction in recent years. It’s not just for breakfast anymore. We’ve smashed through the conventional boundaries of how we eat bacon. We add to everything, cover it in chocolate, blend it with chile peppers… and even put it on cupcakes. Everything tastes better with bacon. Charcuterie expert and exceptional author, Michael Ruhlman is probably the king of bacon. And Cathy Barrow of the popular blog, Mrs. Wheelbarrow is now probably the queen. In my opinion, Cathy has earned that title by encouraging so many to cure their own meats at home. Cathy helped to found the wildly popular social media campaign that became lovingly known to the blogging and food media community as “Charcutepalooza.” The mission of this effort was to “cook the book…” or should I say… “to cure the book” written by Ruhlman called Charcuterie. She and her team enlisted bloggers to embark on a 12 month project where they would make their own cured, brined and smoked meats while using Ruhlman’s book and included recipes as a guide. The project was a big success. It was a success not only because it attracted big sponsors and lots of participants, but because it created awareness about the origins of the meat we eat from the farm… to the butchering… to the curing.
I’m sorry to say that I didn’t invest the time to be part of Charcutepalooza. My intentions were there. I kept saying to myself that I’d make time to join her fun and very interesting project. Looking back, I should have made the time for it. And then while enjoying my coffee this morning I read an article Cathy wrote for the New York Times about making bacon at home. I loved the title “This Little Piggy Stayed Home.” And what I loved even more was Cathy’s comment “Pinch me…” that accompanied the link to the article she shared on Facebook. For a food writer, it doesn’t get much better than the New York Times.
If I have a culinary bucket list, making my own home-cured bacon is at or near the top of it. And now I will finally try to make my own home-cured bacon using Cathy’s enthusiasm and Michael Ruhlman’s knowledge as inspiration. Not only do I expect the flavor to be superior to anything I may buy in the store, but I will know exactly how it was cured without all the chemicals we’re finding in today’s retail food world.
If you are interested in trying this at home, you may CLICK HERE to see an adapted recipe inspired by Ruhlman. Or you may CLICK HERE to see a great post on Ruhlman’s blog. While you’re visiting Ruhlman’s blog, do yourself a favor and just order copies of his books. I own all of them and I can’t express how much I’ve learned from each one. If you order directly from him instead of Amazon, he can even sign them for you.
If you do try making your own bacon, I’d love to hear how it turned out!