Having just bought a pig from some friends, I decided to have a go at those ominous packages of belly at the bottom of the freezer. What proceeded over the next month was obscene and memories of this time are hazy and clouded by bacon grease. I must have purchased the bellies of more than six whole hogs (since mine were all gone I needed more, right?). I made several variations on the cure including everything from sweet ingredients (brown sugar, molasses, berries, crystallized ginger, maple syrup, and more) to savory ones (thyme, ancho chillies, cumin, bourbon, and so on.). You could smell the curing meat all over the house. Everyone who stopped by stood slack jawed at the ever expanding collection of belly hanging in the pantry and loaded in the freezer. The pictures that follow are only a sample of my indulgence.
One of my other favorite dishes from this period was a creamy bowl of Anson Mills polenta with a couple thick sliced pieces of the homemade pancetta and a fresh fried farm egg. For breakfast. With beer. The kids had orange juice. It was a dark time for everyone.
Most foodies these days repeat the mantra, "Everything is better with bacon," and I suppose it is. But I have to say, there is a line. I jumped clear over that line for a while. I'm back now, but seeing that damn picture again on Ruhlman's blog, and not having bacon around the house, is absolutely killing me. Because once you've made your own, buying bacon at the store just feels wrong.