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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.


Pizza Pr0n!

DSC_1808 (1600x1060)Lots of love out there for thin crust pizza but we really like these cheese crust pies with plenty of toppings.  This one has sausage, prosciutto, onions, mushrooms, and pepper rings.  We use the snack type string cheese to roll in the edges, it comes in various flavors and types but get the good stuff to be sure it melts nicely.DSC_1809 (1600x1060)I like to brush garlic infused olive oil on the crust edge and then give it a generous sprinkle of kosher salt.

Smoked Pork Shoulder

This has a generous rub of ground coriander seeds, coarse black pepper, kosher salt, and garlic powder.  I made several slits all over the shoulder and inserted whole cloves of garlic – more than a dozen, you can see one there amid the pulled meat.  It spent the night in the smoker, set at a low temp, I doubt it made it to 200.  It sat on a rack over a pan of apple juice to help provide moisture, and I expect the reduced and defatted juices will make a delicious addition to the pork.  It has turned windy and cool and made cooking to a finish in the smoker too long a process to contemplate so I brought it in to the oven.  It hit 160 and I pulled it to cool.  I did take a sample, because.. smoked pork!  I used apple wood and cherry for the smoke.

A man needs his strength.

Whole Grain Stout Mustard

This is the start of what may become a continuing series.  I’ve been enjoying various whole grain or “stone ground” mustards, you may have spotted some of them on various sammiches I’ve pictured here and elsewhere.  It’s not a thing that I thought about before but I have been seeing mentions here and there of making your own condiments-relishes, ketchup, pickles of many varieties.  I saw a recipe for a mustard made with dark (stout) beer and decided to give it a go. _DSC2503 [1024x768]

I’ve lost the link to the recipe so I’ll reproduce it here:

12 oz stout beer

1-1/2 c black mustard seeds (whole)

1 c red wine vinegar

1 T kosher salt

1 t ground back pepper

1/4 t ground cinnamon

1/4 t ground cloves

1/4 t ground nutmeg

1/4 t ground allspice

Combine all the above in a stainless or other inert bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 24-48 hours.  Dump it all after the soaking into a food processor or blender and pulse until the seeds are coarsely ground and the mixture thickens.  Ready for use immediately or store in refrigerator for six months.


Mmm…Frittata, again

These are so good and so easy.  My favorite kind of things.  This one used up some asparagus I bought just yesterday!  Usually asparagus sits around too long-it’s a real shame it doesn’t keep better.  The tips tend to go all mushy after just a few days in the fridge.  It helps some to store them upright.  I’ve started keeping any I buy in the main compartment rather than burying it in the veggie “crisper”.  Misnomer if there ever was one.  I added a sliced red bell pepper for the color, and some red onion.  Thought about feta for it but decided to go with a last bit of gruyere instead of opening the feta.

I sautéed the veggies in a bit of olive oil for a few minutes, then poured in the beaten eggs.  Not sure how many, 8 or so.  It made a pretty big pan full, half has been stored away in the fridge for later.  I let the edges set up, then popped it into a 350 oven.  Toward the end the gruyere slices went on.  It probably spent 15 minutes in the oven.  While it was finishing I made a quick trip to the garden for a ripe tomato or two.  Plenty of green ones, but ripe ones were few.  I found a few romas, and picked a smallish Better Boy.  It may be a Big Boy, can’t tell the tomato boys apart.  The tomatoes added a nice touch of color to the plate, and were tasty with some grated parm on top with the fresh ground black pepper and kosher salt.


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Mmm…Veggie Fritatta

I had some asparagus and some sweet corn that I needed to cook up before it got too old.  Been eating so many sammiches that my veggies were wilting in the crisper.  I dug out my 12″ cast iron skillet for this one, it was going to be a good one.  Shaved the kernels off three cobs of sweet corn, and chopped the asparagus up into 2″ pieces.  Dug some of my frozen bell pepper strips out of the freezer, and chopped a banana pepper that has been laying around into rings.  I cooked all that down some in butter and olive oil, then poured in 8 eggs beaten with a good slug of half & half.  I let the sides set then slid it into a 350 oven.  Towards the end, when a bit of brown appeared on top, I grated some gruyere and parmesan over it and let it brown a bit more.


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Tomato Drying Progress Report (Updated)

Mmm…the smell in the house is just fabulous from the toasting thyme.  I took a peek at the two hour mark.  Not much change, but some wilting of the edges.

After five hours there is a definite change.  One or two of the tomato halves appear to be finished.  It would seem that the olive oil is playing a role as an insulator.  I decided to flip all the pieces and give them more time.  I judge them not yet ready.

OK, I’m declaring victory and going home.  Official time: 7 hours @250ish.  I managed to pack the entire rack into a pint mason jar.  Included a fair amount of the thyme.  Topped it off with olive oil.  Many recipes I’ve read in the last couple of days say to dip each piece into vinegar as you pack the jars, an antimicrobial measure.  Can’t hurt so I dipped mine into a red wine vinegar.

Oven Dried Tomatoes

OK, in a comment thread at Balloon Juice everyone was going oh they are so good, you gotta try this it’s so easy, you are obviously low class never having made these, what’s stopping you? afraid? and on and on. Here we go.  There will be a follow up post.

Halved some tomatoes, I think these are the Big Boy variety.  Mrs J says yes, they are.  Scooped out the seeds and pulp, nothing left but the shell.  Sprinkled in some kosher salt, ground some black pepper over everything, drizzled good olive oil into the cavities, and spread a bunch of thyme all over everything.

These are arrayed on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and will go into a 250 oven till I can’t stand it any more.  I’ll get back to ya then.

Mmm…Fresh ‘Maters

Along about this time in the summer, when the tomato vines start to produce, the foodie gardeners love to proclaim the very bestest way to eat fresh tomatoes.  There are those that say the only way to eat one is to bite into a fresh plucked tomato as if it were an apple as you stand there in the garden.  Meh, cavemen.  This is the bare minimum:

You don’t need fancy jalapeno/garlic mayo but toast is necessary.  Not sufficient, though.  Kosher salt?  Yep.  Fresh ground black pepper?  Check.  Now, don’t get me wrong, what we have here is a very fine way to eat a fresh tomato.  Is it the very best way?  I’m still in explorations but I think I can say it is not.


This is a BBT-Bacon, Basil, Tomato sammich.  When I find a better way to eat a fresh tomato I’ll email you personally.