Jasper AYKROYD has kindly provided us with this Apple-Jack Bacon recipe. His knowledge of curing and bacon making is awesome. Known also as the Bacon Wizard, he is the UK’s only journeyman curer. This title in the past referred to those who traveled to ply their trade. In so doing, spread the knowledge of it alongside news of other people, places and ideas. Now he keeps himself busy as a consultant to the food industry. He produces a range of bacon and cures under his own label, Jasper AYKROYD‘s Bacon, now available from baconwizard.co.uk
In this recipe, we are using the ubiquitous Bramley cooking apple, but any fruit which is soft and juicy- or will become so with a little cooking – can substitute. We have used damsons, plums, rhubarb and gooseberries all with great success.
- 1 kg (2.2 lb) belly pork (rind removed, unless you have access to a bacon slicer!)
- 2.5 g (0.1 oz) prague powder or equivalent (the strongest variety of Saltpetre and Sodium nitrite curing mix available commercially)*
- 32 g (1.13 oz) mixed curing salt
- 30 g (1.05 oz) light brown sugar
- 30 g (1.05 oz) cored Bramley apple (skin on), chopped into small dice
- Place the fruit and sugar in a pan together and cook gently. Stir until the fruit is softened to a pulp and the sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Loosen with a tablespoon or two of cider to a ‘smearable’ consistency.
- Take less than 10% of your total salt, and rub it onto the skin-side (even if skin was removed) of your pork. Place the pork in a zip-lock bag or on a large multi-layered sheet of cling film. Then apply the remaining salt to the flesh side. Liberally rub and massage this into the surface, with special care to get in to cuts, holes, and around the sides. Finally, apply your sweet fruit poultice to the same surfaces. Wrap-up your pork tightly, and leave in the fridge for 1 week. It’s good to occasionally massage it through the bag (truly old fashioned dry-cures require the pork juices which form to run away, but we actually want the fruit to marinade the pork too, hence this method).
- After this week, remove the pork and rinse gently under a cold tap. Pat dry and put it back into the fridge in its tub, preferably uncovered. Provide that there are no strong odors in the same fridge such as onion. Leave overnight to dry a little and finish curing. This is now ready to cold smoke.
- Depending on the choice of fruit you made in the first place, almost any smoke flavour will work. Apple and Cherry are natural bed partners for fruit-cured bacon! For this recipe, I alternately stacked Apple and Cherry Bisquettes into my Bradley Smoker. I do not have the extension which allows for an even colder smoke, but have engineered a way to keep the door just half a centimeter (0.2 in) ajar, as well as having the vent fully open. It’s fine without these measures though. With a nice big tray of iced water under the conveyor, I set it going and placed my belly face-down on a rack for just 6 hours. This then needs to ‘set,’ as it is called, i.e. cool back down and become stiff. It deserves the name, as the proteins are indeed following the same process as setting jelly. Once this has happened, refrigerate for use over the next week or so. It will freeze almost indefinitely, but mine didn’t last long enough for that!