I’m not gonna start by apologizing for being AWOL for the last month or so, because the law says that anyone who makes their own lamb bacon doesn’t answer to anyone!
That’s right. I said it. Bacon. Lamb. Kosher. Delicious!
Now, by way of a disclaimer for those of you who either currently eat pork, or have in the past:
Just because real bacon is supposedly incredible, that doesn’t mean that this slab of tastiness I just cured and smoked is nothing less than straight-up deloishous.
So, lets get to it.
I started by making a basic dry-cure, straight out of Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie. I mixed kosher salt, sugar and tinted curing salt (also known as Instacure #1), and dusted it over the lamb breast, before sealing it in a ziplock bag.
The curing salt helps preserve the color of the meat, even after it’s cooked. It’s the same stuff that makes your favorite corned beef and pastrami look the way they do.
After I was sure that the cure was working, based on the amount of liquid leeching out of the meat, I added about a quarter cup of Grade A maple syrup, for a little added sweetness and flavoring. For a week I waited patiently, turning the bag over every few days to redistribute the cure.
A week later, here it is–
Not too different looking, but texturally, went from the squishy feel of raw meat to being somewhat firm.
Before the meat would be ready to be smoked, I needed to air dry the exterior of the meat so as to form a pellicle, or a coating of proteins on the surface of the meat, which makes the smoke adhesion much easier. I put it in front of a tower fan for a couple of hours, and here’s what happened–
By the way, I’m really embarrassed by the quality of these pictures, because they really aren’t doing justice to the glorious bacon-y goodness, but my DSLR was preoccupied.
Notice, though, the distinct change in color. You may even be able to tell how the exterior of the meat seems leathery… That’s kinda the point.
Now, onto building my makeshift smoker, blueprints courtesy of Professor Alton Brown, of Good Eats university.
Looks complicated, huh? All you need to build one of your own is a box, portable burner, cast iron pan, and a baking rack. Oh, and some food-grade sawdust. This means that it should come from kiln-dried hardwood. Not pressure treated wood or particle board. Those thing will make you very, very sick.
I got my cherry wood shavings courtesy of Chris, over at the Rockville Woodworkers Club. Chris was extremely helpful, and just stepping into that shop made me want to learn how to build a canoe from scratch while drinking copious amounts of scotch, just like Ron Swanson does.
I loaded up the pan with shavings, fired up the burner, and closed the lid, making sure to monitor the temp of the box, aiming for 200 degrees.
About two hours later, here it was–
Isn’t that so beautiful it just makes you want to cry? Oh boy, was that first chunk I ripped off phenomenal. And this is where our story ends tonight. I’ll be sure to keep you all posted on the various uses of kosher bacon!
Till next time!