Making your own bacon is easier than you think.
“Making bacon at home is so much easier than you might think,” says Café Estelle’s (444 N. Fourth St. 215.925.5080. cafeestelle.com) breakfast meat maestro Marshall Green. “It just takes a little bit of time.” Aspiring bacon-makers need seven days and seven nights for the cure, and on the eighth day, four hours of smoking time. You need a smoker, but it doesn’t have to be fancy; Green uses a charbroil barrel-style one he got at Home Depot for $150. Just remember to smoke outside—the Café’s parking lot is where his mesquite magic happens—but don’t be surprised when your neighbors unexpectedly drop by for brunch.
3-pound slab of skin-off pork belly
2 handfuls mesquite wood chips
1 cup Kosher salt
2/3 cup raw sugar
2 tablespoon black peppercorn
1 tablespoon allspice berries
1 ounce maple syrup
Sunday: Grind the spices until coarse but not powdery. In a bowl, mix with salt and sugar. Place pork in a Ziplock bag; sprinkle liberally with the cure. Add syrup and seal the bag. Place on a pan in the fridge.
Tuesday: Flip bag.
Thursday: Flip bag.
Saturday: Flip bag.
Sunday: Remove the pork from the bag and rinse under cold water. Dry with a paper towel and allow to come to room temperature. Build a fire in a smoker. Place soaked mesquite chips on the coals and hot smoke at 200-250 degrees for about four hours until some fat begins to render and the belly reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees. Cool completely before slicing. Cook in a skillet.
Like little ham and cream napalm grenades, the Serrano ham croquettes at the Spaniard style BYOB Apamate are bite-size explosions of flavor in your mouth.
Growing up Muslim in America has its temptations. Of the rules ripe for breaking, there is none less enticing than indulging in the forbidden pork. But it took just one prosciutto-wrapped melon slice for me to never look back.
If you're too lazy to chew it, read on...
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More than 20 years ago, the National Pork Board started pushing the leanest, cleanest parts of its little piggies with the slogan, “Pork. The Other White Meat,” and the American people—including my mother—totally bought it. And then, for almost the next 20 years, most of us—you, me, our mothers, omnivores all over the country—dutifully ate our tenderloins and center loin chops. They tasted only mildly of pork and had the texture and chewiness of dishtowels, but dammit, they lived up to the slogan and we felt good about eating them. Only, I didn’t. I was unsatisfied and confused. How could the pork we ate for breakfast—crunchy-tender, salty, smoky, juicy, soul-satisfying bacon—be so different from the bland, tough, utilitarian pork we ate for dinner and still come from the same animal? I longed for something more. I wanted bacon—or at least the magical je ne sais quoi of bacon—every time I ate pork. It wasn’t until I was more or less grown up that I would discover—at a...