5@5 - Chef Joe Schafer
December 31st, 2010
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

If you're included in the majority of people getting positively tanked tonight, you know what's going to sound really good tomorrow morning? Bacon ... and a big cup of water ... aaaaaaand maybe an aspirin. We're a food blog, so we can only help you with the first one - the other two, well, hopefully you're not still so obliterated off your face that you can't figure those out.

But we're not talking any old Beggin' Strips here, we're talking about HOMEMADE bacon courtesy of Executive Chef Joe Schafer from PARISH: Foods & Goods in Atlanta, Georgia.

Here's to bringing home the bacon in twenty-eleven.

Five Steps to Curing Bacon … and What to Do With It Afterward: Joe Schafer

1. Sourcing your pork
"Always use pork bellies from a reputable source, meaning the hogs have been raised on a natural diet, have lived a comfortable life and gone through a stress-free slaughter. If you’re able to acquire any heritage breed pork, Berkshire, Tamworth and Duroc breeds make excellent bacon. Remove, or have your butcher remove, the skin from the belly."

2. Salting
"For every pound of belly you intend on curing, you will need: 2 tablespoons kosher salt, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon pink salt. Additionally, you may add any spices you’d like such as black pepper, celery seed or chiles. Mix your cure and spread evenly to coat each side of the belly. Shake off any excess. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or store in a large Ziploc bag under refrigeration for seven days."

3. Overhauling
"Every two days while curing, the belly will need to be overhauled or 'flipped' over to ensure an even cure. On day eight, remove the belly from the plastic, give it a quick rinse in cold water and pat it dry. Then place the belly on a rack, uncovered, back in the fridge for 24 hours. This step is necessary to dry the belly a bit and help the smoke stick to the meat better."

4. Smoking
"Hot-smoke the belly at 200 degrees Fahrenheit until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees, about two hours. Personally, I prefer a mix of hickory and white oak for smoking but any hardwood of your preference will do. Fruit woods such as apple and peach impart a subtle sweetness, which also works well for bacon. Allow your bacon slab to chill completely before slicing but do help yourself to a few tastes while it’s still warm. I can’t stress this enough - there is absolutely nothing like warm bacon right out of the smoker!"

5. The perfect BLT
"Now that you’ve put in the work, it’s time to taste the fruits of your labor. Good bacon, like the slab you’ve just finished, should be sliced thick about one-eighth of an inch. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lay about three slices [of bacon] on a sheet pan and cook until the center of the slice just loses its translucency. Drain slightly on paper towels. The bacon should be slightly crisp with a toothsome chew to it.

Toast a couple of slices of crusty sourdough, apply liberal amounts of mayo (I always reach for Duke’s, but that’s just me), lay on the bacon, a couple of slices of ripe tomato (Heirloom if possible - if not, just go for the organic. It’s worth it), top with some wild arugula and a few turns of fresh cracked black pepper and you are good to go. Now pat yourself on the back, you’ve just made bacon! The only problem is that once you’ve mastered the technique, you’ll never be able to eat grocery store bacon again."

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Make • Recipes • Think

soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. vapor

    i will verbally thrash anyone who trys to post here cause you are queer

    January 17, 2011 at 6:52 am |
  2. vapor

    i slay trolls.

    January 14, 2011 at 1:06 am |
  3. ParKay pee éye gee

    Park iz good parrk is great

    January 3, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants

      Interesting theory, however how does one take the environmental versus time factor when considering whether or not 'park' = great or > than good? I find this control task of your hypothesis to be a great variant, thus leading me to believe that park is in fact not great.

      January 3, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  4. ParKay pee éye gee

    Radah cadodougie its good for cancer

    January 3, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  5. KDirty

    Trying this TOMORROW (my butcher is closed on Monday). Cannot wait. Can someone shed some light on the "pink salt" for me? At first I thought he might have been referring to Himalayan Pink Salt, but some quick Google searching indicated that he's most likely talking about Curing Salt, which tends to be pinkish in color because of a high sodium nitrate concentration. If one cannot find Curing Salt easily, would Himalayan Pink Salt work as well–meaning, is it pink for the same reasons curing salt is pink, and would serve the same purpose?

    January 3, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • Bill Kamman

      Morton – the salt people, make a product called "Tender Quick". It has the sodium nitrite, sodium nitrate and sugar needed for the curing process. You can find it at Meijers or call your local butcher, he probably has some

      January 4, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
      • KDirty

        I appreciate the help, Bill, thanks. I'm trying it tonight. My butcher said he didn't have any curing salt or Tender Quick in stock, but to try a farm store or hunting supply store, so hopefully those will come through for me. That or I'm going to have to continue the hunt through my local super marts.

        January 4, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
  6. Emma Fantastic

    Joe is a great Chef. Go to Parish and taste his creations.

    January 3, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  7. ThatBelle

    I live in Atlanta, and I'd never heard of Parish-so excited to have a new place to try!
    I also tried JCT Kitchen recently, and that Benton's Country Ham shaved thin over deviled eggs is divine!!!!!!!

    January 3, 2011 at 8:29 am |
  8. Lisa

    Ohhhh I LOVE Parish!!!!!! Chef Schafer is the man!

    January 1, 2011 at 10:02 am |
  9. John

    Best post yet. Doing it this week. Sidenote...Have been to Parish and this guy can cook! If you're in Atl, check it out.

    January 1, 2011 at 10:00 am |
  10. Jdizzle McHammerpants

    *'* *** **.

    December 31, 2010 at 11:02 pm |
    • vapor

      i will slay all trolls. bring it here

      January 14, 2011 at 1:06 am |
  11. Tazer

    I'll have to find someone with a smoker so I can borrow it, then I'm on it.

    December 31, 2010 at 5:59 pm |
    • Well Read

      You can smoke the bacon in a gas grill if you place the meat on end and the wood in the other. Use the gas burner on it's lowest setting and use green wood. The burner should obviously be on under the wood end only, not under the meat You can also pre-soak the wood in water if you can't find any fresh green wood. Just don't put the wood in while it is dripping wet, it should be dry on the surface. Block any upper vents if your grill has them, so that the air can only enter from below. I use this method to smoke vennison, sausages, and turkey. It works great for those, so I would imagine bacon would be the same.

      January 3, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  12. JBJingles_from the humble abode

    It does sound interesting, but I'm afraid that is too much for me. I'm pretty happy with the deli applewood smoked bacon I get...now if he can recommend a brand/source for something a little more readily available I would love to try it! Tazer, let me know if you try this!!

    December 31, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  13. Tazer

    Mmm how fantastic! I would love to try this!

    December 31, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
    • vapor

      you are very stupid

      January 14, 2011 at 1:05 am |
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