Mmm… Homemade Bacon

We had a 3 pound piece of belly leftover from the pork belly with mustard greens we did the other day in the pressure cooker.  I’ve done homemade bacon before but this time I wanted to try it with the pink salt cure.  This one sat in the fridge with a cure of brown sugar, kosher salt, and a little pink salt.  We applied the cure as a dry rub, bagged it it plastic and let it go for a week, turned over daily.  Here it is after the week was up, rinsed and air drying.  Overnight drying is best but 4 hours will do.After the slab dried it was rubbed with maple sugar and coarse black pepper and placed into the smoker at 175 degrees for a few hours.  It still hadn’t reached an internal temp of 150 but I didn’t want it too smoky so it was finished in the oven indoors.  It was cooled to room temp, bagged in plastic, and put back into the fridge for another overnighter.It wants to be chilled for easier slicing.  One of the benefits of home curing is that you can slice it as thick as you want it.  I’m a little disappointed in what Kroger sells as “thick sliced”.The maple sugar in the finish turns a nice crusty caramel color when frying.  I have one more half slab of pork belly in the freezer, I’m tempted to pull it and start more bacon.

Sammich Pr0n – Candied Hot Pepper Bacon Cheeseburger

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I had some bacon in the fridge that was getting old so I decided to cook the lot of it in the oven. I usually use maple sugar when I make this stuff but decided on brown sugar for this batch.  While rummaging in the cupboard I ran across a jar of ground red pepper.  The peppers grew on an “ornamental” pepper plant but they looked useful and I am loathe to throw things away.  I ground them in my spice mill and put them back, waiting for a special occasion.  Today I sprinkled them onto the bacon, along with ground black pepper and the sugar.  You can see the tiny seeds on the bacon in the photos.  This stuff is awesome.  DSC_6740 [1600x1060]Bacon is not hard to cook in the oven, lay it out on a rack inside a baking tray.  Cooking plain bacon you can get by without lining the tray with foil but this sugar coated stuff will make you wish you had the first time you forget.  Or the second time.  I’m slow.  I set the temp at 350 for this batch, thicker bacon wants a lower temperature setting.  Flip the bacon after 15 minutes and sprinkle the other side with the pepper and sugar.  (Maple syrup works great on these!) The bacon will render as it cooks and will give up moisture, in the last few minutes the rashers go from not quite done to just right and you better be ready because another minute is too much.  [Edit to add photo:]_DSC4626 [1600x1060]I mentioned that I was, um.. retentive.  These are the little peppers I dried and ground and saved.  In 2010.


We smoked a home made corned beef yesterday after rubbing on a generous helping of the proper spices, as you can see in the photo above.  That’s after firming up in the fridge overnight for easier slicing.  I suppose I should back up a little.  Pastrami is a smoked chunk of corned meat.  We went with a beef brisket but you can corn (preserve with salt) other meats as well.  Turkey seems to be a popular substitute for beef for making a pastrami, at least in the deli at the local grocery.

There are tons of recipes out there for corning briskets, I went with this one from Alton Brown.The 2 gallon plastic zip bag was a great idea, and Mrs J found a large, shallow, plastic container that held everything nicely.  We let it soak for a week, turning the brisket over daily to make sure the brine got to every part.  I spent several sessions looking for spice recipes for the rub and found too many to recount here.  I ended up going with three main ingredients:  Coarsely ground black pepper, ground coriander seeds, and juniper berries.  The juniper berries were the hardest to find locally but we ran across some in a co-op grocery not far from the Asian food store that we shop regularly.I tried to grind the juniper berries into the meat with the palm of my hand, not sure how better to do it, but the flavor came through.  I gave the berries a spin in the spice grinder first but most of them were still intact.  I used a mix of wood chips for the smoke flavor on this – hickory, apple, and cherry.  With the smoker set to 225 it took about 10 hours to get to 160 internally.  I then wrapped the brisket in several layers of aluminum foil and returned it to the smoker.  It made it to 172 before I decided to remove it due to oncoming rough weather.  (I had the smoker set up in our detached garage.)  One of the questions I researched was “at what temperature is it done”, and found some disagreement.  160 -165 seemed to be the minimum but there were several that said they liked to see it get higher than that.  One fellow said 190 was fine by him.  I figured I could always cook it more if mine wasn’t yet good to go but I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.I have a decent counter top model slicer and it made short work of the slab.  We ended up with 4 pounds of sliced pastrami.  The uncooked brisket was 5 or 6 pounds, I forgot to make a note of it so I’m just guessing.


Not much different from my usual recipe which is simply heat some stock and toss in the meat and rolled dumplings.  Today I cooked some veggies down in butter and oil and then made a roux before dumping in the stock and the meat and the dumplings.  Added a little heavy cream just before serving to make it a cream of turkey dumpling dish.  I’ll be going back to the old method.

Mmm…Mushroom Soup

I had a few mushrooms rapidly turning less than fresh so I decided to use them up.  I looked for a mushroom soup recipe and turned this one up, it looked nice enough though I didn’t want to use the food machine to chop them up.  Took a few other liberties with the ingredient list but nothing radical.  The soup turned out pretty good, but the highlight of the meal was the crouton topping.  I diced a few slices of my experimental “hearty loaf of bread” and toasted them in a skillet with butter and olive oil.


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BBQ Sauce

We were having an interesting discussion in comments here about BBQ sauces that might work with turkey.  I remembered a sauce made by the fellow that ran a now defunct BBQ pit in my hometown.  I half remembered the recipe and tried to describe the sauce in one of my comments.  I wasn’t too far off!  Mostly..

Anyway, Mrs J mentioned just a while ago, “I have a recipe for that sauce, we got it from one of your pipefitter pals, it’s in this big folder here”.  Kerplop

Now it would have been a miracle if the thing had flopped open to just what I was looking for.  It didn’t happen that way.  But I found it!

You can probally read that, but in case you can’t:

2 c each of vinegar and water

2 c sugar  (I used Splenda this batch)

1/3 c cornstarch in water (make a slurry-use minimal water)

1 t salt

3 t pepper  (I used white pepper, and added 1 more of black pepper)

1 t red pepper (ground cayenne)

8 oz can of tomato sauce   (I didn’t have any so I used a good dollop of tomato paste and whisked it in along with a little water-May have used too much as the end product seems a tad less translucent than I remember the original sauce.)

That’s pretty much it, mix everything but the cornstarch slurry in a saucepan over medium heat, bring to a good simmer, add the slurry and whisk it as it returns to the simmer.

It’s not a bad sauce, won’t be to everyone’s liking.  I think it’s pretty good, and I don’t think I would hesitate to dredge a slice of turkey breast through it.

I used cider vinegar but I can easily imagine this made with white vinegar or red wine vinegar.

Mmm…Chicken fried steak ala Indy

Again, welcome IndyLib!  This is pretty much by the book chicken fried steak so nothing to add except I like my gravy on the brown side rather than the library paste looking stuff you too often see.  A little dribble of Kitchen Bouquet handles that part.  Pro tip:  It can also cover for some slightly burned flour!

I will mention the corn on the side.  Basic can of corn, drained, (save the water), some diced bell pepper, a few tablespoons of tomato salsa, a diced fresh tomato (perhaps the last one?), a bit of diced onion, about half of an Anaheim pepper cut into rings.  Mix the water drained from the corn with some chicken soup base and a little bit of corn starch.  Simmer the corn, stir in the corn starch mixture to thicken the corn/peppers mix and top with some shredded cheeses.  Mmm…


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Making Chorizo

I was lamenting the other day that there wasn’t a nearby source for delicious chorizo sausage.  I bought some links the other day and have used them to great success in breakfast omelets and burritos and today’s edition of yummy breakfast burrito was no different.  Alas, I used the last of the chorizo.

Yesterday I meet a need by baking my own pitas rather than mope about the kitchen wishing I had bought more the last time I was at the market and that same spirit of can do animated my [Ed: please, dude, you are beginning to cloy] … OK OK, turning the smaltz spigot off…where was I?  Ah, yes, looking for homemade chorizo recipes.  Success! There are several recipes at that link-the one I used as a template was the one titled “Chorizo Autentico”.

Made a few changes:  Didn’t add the 6-20 hot peppers, and didn’t put in the cumin seeds (I was out).  I wasn’t sure what “pure ground red chili” was so I used some dried “California” chilies and a couple of dried ancho chilies.  I added a few tablespoons of chili powder and a few of paprika as well.  And, just because I had some, a couple of sprinkles of ground coriander.  The rest of the recipe was unchanged.  I did whirl the dried oregano in the spice grinder-the same machine that I used on the dried chilies.

In a few days I will report the outcome of the morning’s effort.

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