The Cooler Kitchen: Back to Bacon, Honey

Breaking news from the Cooler on the Lake Shore home bacon-curing test labs: The honey-mustard experiment was a success!

Take one pork belly, add a mixture of kosher salt, dark brown sugar, Dijon mustard, honey and chopped garlic. Place in a Ziploc bag, place the bag in the refrigerator for a week, turning once a day to make sure the meat seasons evenly. And it comes out here.

Honey-mustard home-cured bacon

Then you roast it at 200 degrees for about two hours, checking frequently until it reaches an internal temperature of 150. Chill, slice into bacon strips, and cook however you do bacon. Like this…

Honey-mustard home-cured bacon

As with the earlier salt-and-spice-cured bacon that I made, this honey-mustard version is not smoked, so your home won’t be quite as redolent with cooking bacon aromas as the stuff we’re used to. But it is totally delicious. And unlike the packaged bacon from the supermarket, you can eat it with the satisfaction that you made it yourself. Another definition of comfort food.

I could try to add some drama to make it look I’ve achieved something really difficult, but the fact is that this is really, if a bit suprisingly, easy. There is little difference between this and any other roast meat. You season it, you cook it, you eat it.

The only major twist with curing bacon is that it marinates in the fridge for a few days. That does not require any extra labor. Just patience.

These bacon slabs — which I obtain from Jake’s Country Meats of Cassopolis, Michigan at their stand at Chicago’s Green City Market — run from about a pound and a half to a pound and three-quarters. Which means they don’t last long. So the next piece already is curing with yet another new mixture.

Honey-bourbon bacon curing mix

The bottle on the right is raw honey from Bron’s Bees, located at Heritage Prairie Farms in La Fox, Illinois.

The bottle on the left is Evan Williams’ nine-year-old Kentucky bourbon.

No mystery about this one. Y’all know this is going to be good.

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