Friday, June 11, 2010

Jalapeño Bacon

Jalapeno Bacon

It is hard to believe that it has been almost two years now since we first posted on making bacon. That batch was our first, and it was so good that I ended the post by declaring: "we won't be buying bacon again". And we haven't!

A fun variant on traditional bacon that we've been playing with recently is adding jalapeños to the brining stage. We've been known to enjoy a bit of heat on occasion, so we figured why not add some spice to our homemade bacon?

Our first attempt to do this used fresh chiles. It was very pretty:

Jalapeno Bacon

But it ended up not doing much. What worked better was using canned jalapeños (you know, the kind that always come with carrot slices). It took a much larger quantity than we expected to get the desired effect, and over the course of multiple batches we noticed that a fattier belly carried the flavor much better than leaner meat.

Here is a belly all zipped up and ready to cure, with some carrot slices added because it seemed like they should be:

Jalapeno Bacon

I love the way bacon looks hot out of the smoker:

Jalapeno Bacon

This is the same batch pictured at the top of this post. Once it cools and you cut into it, you get that characteristic bacon look.

It made for a very nice bacon cheeseburger...

Jalapeño Bacon Burger with Fries and Ketchup

You can use this bacon pretty much as you would any other. It is lighter on the sugar than some recipes (we prefer our bacon more salty than sweet). The heat from the jalapeños is definitely present, but subtle.

Jalapeño Bacon

This bacon works best if the belly is somewhat fatty rather than lean.

1 (3-4 pound) slab pork belly, skin on
40 grams (3-4 tablespoons) kosher salt
20 grams (approx. 5 teaspoons) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pink salt
4 canned jalapeños in escabeche, plus 1-2 tablespoons of the liquid
4 garlic cloves, sliced or crushed
2 bay leaves, torn into small pieces
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, slightly crushed

Mix together the salt, sugar and pink salt. Sprinkle generously over all sides of the belly, then gently shake off the excess. Place the belly into a non-reactive dish or zip lock bag. Blitz the jalapeno with the pickling liquid in a food processor or blender. In a bowl, stir the garlic, bay leaves and peppercorns into the jalapeño, then add to the belly being sure to coat all sides fairly evenly.

Let cure in the refrigerator 5 to 8 days, turning the belly every other day. The meat is ready once it is reasonably firm when pressed. Remove the belly and rinse off the cure with cool water. Pat dry, place on an oiled rack and return to the refrigerator to dry uncovered, overnight.

Smoke at 150-180 degrees using apple and oak. The bacon is ready once it reaches 150 degrees - usually in about 3 hours.

15 comments:

  1. Mmm... bacooon. Everything tastes better with bacon :)

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  2. OMG....this looks fab and you've taken bacon to another, spicy level.

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  3. Impressive! I've been saying to myself and other people for almost two years now that I would be making my own bacon. You guys have inspired me to put my money where my mouth is.

    Very useful information on how brined jalapenos work better than fresh as I would have thought the opposite would be true. Now I'm wondering if dried chiles would work too.

    What's at the bottom right corner of the hamburger shot? Is that the Momofuku apple kimchi or am I seeing things again?

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  4. Hi Leela - the side dish with the burger is a fun little recent invention of ours - confit potatoes with tomato jam. I call it "Fries and Ketchup" :-)

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  5. making your own homemade bacon is the way to go. never thought of jalapeno, interesting.

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  6. I agree, everything tastes better with bacon. I could have used some of these in my chili last night!

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  7. Carol - I don't think we've ever put bacon in our chili. Sounds awesome, though!

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  8. Hi Mike, I started doing that a while back and it adds such a great flavor. I don't use much, just a couple of slices, diced, brown them up, then drain on paper towels. I then saute the onions in the bacon fat. The bacon gets added back in once everything is in and ready to simmer. I forgot to add bacon once and I couldn't figure out why it tasted different, missing something. Then I realized I forgot the bacon. Huge difference.

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  9. Carol - we've done a "smokehouse" chili where we've used up remnants of smoked sausages and it has been fantastic. I imagine bacon would add a similar character - we will definitely try adding some to our next batch.

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  10. That looks delicious! What kind of smoker do you use? I have to agree that salty bacon > sweet bacon. I had some brussel sprouts sauteed with bacon a while ago and it was absolutely wonderful!

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  11. Hi kmylml - we use a Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker and we're really happy with it.

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  12. It's funny, I came across your blog toady, looking for a dry cure bacon recipe. I just finished my first batch of savory bacon based on the recipe you have posted 2 years ago, when I sat down and decided to look at some of the newer posts here. Low and behold, more bacon!

    Looks like I might have to do another batch using this recipe though.

    Great blog! Keep up the good work!

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  13. Thanks, Michaela! Glad to hear that you gave the bacon a try. I hope it turned out well for you.

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  14. Great idea. I'll try this with our next batch o' bacon.

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  15. Bbq Dude - definitely give it a try. It doesn't really take any more work than regular bacon.

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