Today something beautiful took place in Kentish Town. An immaculate confection; the plugging of a hole in the universe. In short, the Dunollie Bacon Project is go. Equipped with the charcuterie bible, 2kg of curing salts, 500ml of maple syrup and a large chunk of pig we set forth, pausing only to document the moment:
While some would argue that it’s unusual to emerge onto one’s patio at lunchtime bearing a plate of completely raw meat, delicately arrange it on the table, photograph it and then go back inside, this is flaccid thinking and should be rejected by all those of independent thought.
The process itself is almost anticlimactically simple. First, get your belly and ensure that the nipples are intact (picture). If your belly lacks nipples, halve an olive – green by preference – and attach as appropriate; a cocktail stick will suffice.
You are now ready to dredge the belly in curing salt. Spread 1/4 to 1/2 cup of salt on a baking tray, and press the belly firmly down. Flip the belly, and press down again, ensuring that all crevices are well filled. Then simply put it in a ziploc bag, pour in 1/2 a cup of maple syrup, seal the bag and splodge it round a bit, and put it in the fridge.
It’s fair to say this didn’t satisfy my need for porcine ceremony. The bacon really only needs turning once a day, but I’ve been checking it rather more regularly than that.
The first eight times I looked, all seemed well; but then only an hour had passed. The ninth time I was worried that something had gone terribly wrong, a luminous red protrusion of hideous dimensions having developed upon the bacon. On closer inspection, however, it turned out to be a tomato that had rolled on to the bag from the shelf above.
Inspections 10 through 13 were uneventful, although at this point I had started poking the bacon in the hope of provoking some sort of reaction. It appears that even at such a young age, our bacon is one of life’s stoics. Perhaps it anticipates its fate.
Reasoning that my bacon and I needed to maintain distance (it’s never a good idea to rush things), I went in to town, only to find my nose pressed to the butcher’s window, ogling the remaining pork bellies therein. He chased me away with a cleaver, and I trudged home to complete inspections 14 to 21, in which I attempted to talk to the bacon like a carnicultural Prince Charles.
It did not reply.
Come back mid-week to see how Sam and I expertly massage the bag, as it were.
Incidentally, I realise I forgot to credit the person who inspired this: Tim Hayward, whose excellently demented article in the Guardian on home-made bacon has been curing in my brain for about a year.