A few weeks ago (frankly, I can’t believe its taken me this long to write about it) we joined our friends the Johnston’s at the Eat Alberta Conference in Edmonton. As soon as I realized there was a bacon making session I was there, like a food nerd to a gourmet food truck.
We had a great day making perogies, tasting local beer, and learning about urban gardening. The food was fabulous and the speakers were knowledgeable and engaging. It was such a great way to learn more about where your food is coming from and embrace new ways to appreciate your food!
That said, my bacon-loving heart was obviously most excited for bacon making.
Chef Chad Moss, of Shovel and Fork, started the session off by showing us the difference between homemade bacon and commercial bacon (the stuff you buy in your supermarket). I was surprised to find out that regular store-bought bacon shrinks because its pumped full of water! You’re essentially buying meat and water. With homemade bacon your bacon hardly shrinks at all and the taste is incredible. He had made three different kinds of bacon for us to try – one was even truffle smoked! Each was so unique and yummy and surprisingly not all that salty or fatty! In addition to being tastier, the homemade bacon also cooked way faster than the store-bought because it wasn’t full of water and since it was smoked, only tasty meat was left behind! I’ve had homemade bacon before but comparing them side-by-side was shocking. The store-bought simply couldn’t measure up.
After the tasting we got to make our own. We each got a generous slab of pork belly and Chef Chad’s recipe for maple cinnamon bacon. You have to be careful measuring out the nitrite to make the basic cure (with a scale and a calculator) so I’m glad we got to do that part in the class. I would have messed that up at home for sure! We added a few other ingredients (brown sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon) to the pork belly and we were almost set. The last ingredient we needed was patience. We had to wait a week before smoking or cooking it!
Here are few photos of our bacon making class. We were positively giddy with pure bacon joy!
After we took our bacon home and massaged it daily for a week, we got to rinse and cook our bacon!! It did not disappoint. It is by far the most amazing bacon I have ever had. Seriously! And it wasn’t even hard to do! After you get the bacon cure part down, you wait a week and then either smoke it or cook it in a low heat oven (around 200F) until it has an internal temperature of 150 F. 4.5 hours in our oven and we ended up with this…
After your bacon is cooked you cut the skin off (you can reserve it for flavouring soups or stews) and then thinly slice the rest for frying it up. We cut off the excessively fatty parts as well.
For our first tasting we fried some up and made mini BLTs. It was ridiculously good. The flavour was unreal. Every time you tasted it, it was like a trip to flavourtown! (I think I just accidentally quoted Guy Fieri! Oh well!) Needless to say we are savouring every piece! Here’s a Vine video of our happy bacon frying.
As we were leaving Chef Chad said, “Enjoy your bacon life!” Don’t worry Chef, I already got it covered!