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Charcutepalooza! Project: Homemade Bacon

February 15, 2011

It’s the 15th of February and as promised, today is the post about HOMEMADE BACON. As you all may have read in my previous post, here, I am participating in Charcutepalooza – a year long project focusing on the art of charcuterie. So far the experience has been both educational and fun. Making charcuterie is a challenge for me – a completely new field of cooking that I never knew much about. The fact that dry curing, one of the oldest methods of preservation, is rarely practiced in the home is in actuality quite stunning. What’s more is that for someone interested in food, I really knew nothing about it. Sure, I would buy bacon (and I have bought my fair share over the years), but never would I think about making it at home. This project has made me more aware of what we are capable of doing at home, while connecting us with the roots of true and authentic cooking. It’s trying something new – venturing out into unknown territory. And I’m all about jumping in head first and trying it out. To me, there’s nothing more fun than that.

This month’s project was to make either bacon or pancetta. I chose to make bacon because the process was a shorter one than making pancetta. Since I knew I would be traveling this month, I didn’t want to over exert, especially on one of my first projects. I could not believe how EASY it is to make homemade bacon. I mean, you really work for about 15 minutes and then just wait and go about your business until it’s done curing. Once you buy fresh pork belly, all you have to do is dredge the entire belly in a dry cure that can be flavored with whatever you want – I used garlic, bay leaf, and black pepper. Although now that I’ve finished the first batch, I have all kinds of idea – spicy bacon with smoked paprika and cayenne, basil pesto bacon, sorghum syrup + vanilla bacon, and maybe an Indian spiced bacon! After seven days in the cure, you roast (or smoke) the entire pork belly for about 2 hours until it reaches a temperature of 150 degrees F. Once you remove the skin, the bacon can but sliced, used immediately, or frozen for a few months.



Now, let me tell you about TASTE. When this beautiful, home cured bacon is cooked, its taste is UNBELIEVABLE. Because mine was roasted and not smoked, you could really taste the ingredients from the cure. The bacon was garlicky, which gave it a great savory note; it was spicy because of the black pepper and the herbaceousness of the bay leaf rounded everything out to make this the best tasting bacon that I’ve ever had. Seriously, it’s the most flavorful bacon EVER!

And because the bacon is so easy to make (I mean, seriously, it just sits there for 7 days), I’m pretty sure I’ll always have homemade bacon around my house. Who knew that making your own cured meat products would be so easy? But that’s what charcutepalooza is all about – try something new, challenge yourself to be a better cook, and you will be rewarded. This was quite the reward.


So now that I got my own bacon, I’ve been making a lot of stuff. Of course, you gotta have a B.L.T. If there is a better one than mine, I’ve never seen or had it. You could make my Apple Cabbage & Bacon slaw, Spaghetti Carbonara, or even Huevos Rancheros! But for all you fellow Charcutepalooza-ers out there, I made a really special dish. One day, a few years ago, I went to Miami for my little sister’s graduation. While we were there, my dad and I had the pleasure of dining at Michelle Bernstein’s restaurant, Michy’s. We were even luckier because it was restaurant week, so I got to have 3 courses! My favorite course was actually the appetizer – some steamed asparagus, with a poached egg, and bacon lardons. The flavors were amazing and I couldn’t get over how a few simple ingredients really came together to produce a very tasty dish.

This is my take on Michelle’s dish. I’ve grilled the asparagus to give a smoky flavor to the dish, since the bacon was not smoked. With a perfectly poached egg, parmiagiano reggiano curls, and a simple balsamic vinaigrette, this dish is just incredible, full of so many different flavors and textures. The vinaigrette in my mind is essential, as its heightened acidity cuts through the richness of all the other ingredients. At the end of the day, the bacon is the star of the plate and everything else helps to elevate the bacon.

Grilled Asparagus Salad – Bacon, Parmigiano, Poached Egg, Balsamic (serves 4)

(recipe courtesy of Vivek Surti)


1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed

olive oil

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Toss the asparagus with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill asparagus for about 2-3 minutes on each side, until it is nicely marked and tender. Take off the grill and set aside.


Poached eggs:

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon white vinegar

Bring a large, wide pan filled with water to a simmer. Season the water with the vinegar – this will ensure the egg whites coagulate around the yolk when you poach the eggs. Crack the eggs and put them into individual bowls (or crack one at a time). When the water returns to a simmer, use a slotted spoon and start stirring the water clockwise until there is a bit of a vortex in the middle of the pot. Drop one egg into the middle of the vortex and watch as the egg white comes to surround the yolk. Let the egg cook for about 3 minutes, and then immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. At this point, your egg is almost perfectly cooked. Repeat with remaining eggs.

When you are ready to serve, insert the eggs back in the poaching liquid for about 45 seconds so they warm all the way through. This will result in great, runny yolks. If you want a hard yolk, just cook it longer, for about 2 minutes.

Balsamic Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tsp dijon mustard

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together the balsamic vinegar and dijon mustard. Slowly stream in the olive oil, while whisking, to emulsify the dressing. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.

To Assemble:

8 strips of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces or lardons

Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Grilled Asparagus

Poached Eggs

Balsamic Vinaigrette

First, cook the bacon by putting it in a cold pan over medium heat. Keep turning bacon, every few minutes, so it is evenly cooked, the fat renders, and it is crispy. Drain on paper towels.

To assemble the dish, lay a few asparagus spears on the plate. Top the asparagus with the poached egg. Scatter the bacon around the plate. Using a vegetable peeler, curl some long pieces of parmigiano cheese around the other ingredients. Spoon some of the vinaigrette over the salad and around the plate.

Serve. Eat. Be Merry.

I can’t wait for next month’s Charcutepalooza project! Now that I’ve completed my first project, I feel much  more comfortable going forth. I’m ready to face any challenge and start making some tasty cured pork products. If this bacon was any indication, it’s going to be one tasty and exciting epicurean adventure!




94 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2011 8:16 AM

    Beautiful pictures, Vivek, and delicious-looking! I like the whole ambiance of your blog, actually, and look forward to reading more, not just exciting Charcutepalooza projects 🙂

  2. February 15, 2011 8:22 AM

    Wow, the thought would have never crossed my mind to make my own bacon. You make it sound so easy and delicious!

  3. February 15, 2011 8:59 AM

    Beautiful bacon and great photos. Lardons, eggs, and asparagus sounds delicious. And Parmesan and bacon go so well together.

  4. February 15, 2011 9:43 AM

    yay, i’ve been waiting for this post! the home-curing process seems surprisingly easy + the results look gorgeous. i’ll have to try it one of these days!

  5. February 15, 2011 3:23 PM

    Wow! Great post! Nathan loves real bacon (I’ve been buying turkey bacon for years!), so perhaps if I forward this to him, he’ll make some on his own!

    • February 15, 2011 3:32 PM

      I need to learn how they make turkey bacon…

  6. February 19, 2011 9:27 AM

    You are awesome! I have always wanted to make bacon, but I have been unable to find decent local source for pork belly (they are all bought by restaurants). Do you have a grill? It is possible to have a very low fire from hickory wood (we have small pieces of hickory to give to you if you want to try it) on one side, and put the pork on the other side. We have a smoking rig, and it doesn’t take much wood (2-3 small twigs at a time) to get the rig to 250F and smoky.

    • March 9, 2011 10:32 AM

      British bacon–Thanks for your recipe–I’ll try it.

  7. March 9, 2011 7:55 AM

    I’m not a fan of bacon, but the asparagus salad looks amazing!

  8. March 9, 2011 8:05 AM

    wow im so hungry now…

  9. March 9, 2011 8:33 AM

    looking good ^^

  10. March 9, 2011 8:36 AM

    As they say, you can eat bacon with almost anything. Homemade bacon sounds even better!

  11. March 9, 2011 8:48 AM

    That is something I would have never thought to do. Yours looks so good. I think you are right about becoming more aware of the kinds of things we can do in our own home concerning making our own foods. I am getting anxious to put my garden in for this year and really want to tackle canning this year. I freeze some vegetables, but want to can tomatoes since I eat them year round, almost daily.
    Thanks for the recipe … and the inspiration!

  12. March 9, 2011 8:50 AM

    I had absolutely no idea that bacon was “easy” to make. Interesting…

    And the recipes/ideas look incredible. EVERYTHING is better with bacon! 😉

  13. March 9, 2011 9:05 AM

    What an ambitious project. It sure looks delicious.

  14. March 9, 2011 9:29 AM

    Wow! I never knew how “easy” the process of making bacon van be… nor did I know that you could actually make it at home… ooh… a nice juicy BLT… I am drooling now..

  15. March 9, 2011 9:38 AM

    made me hungry

  16. March 9, 2011 9:44 AM

    This looks great, Vivek. I make my own bacon regularly, but without the roasting/smoking bit. Mind you, I’m English and I think bacon is slightly different in your neck of the woods. I apply the cure thinly, all over, every day for 4 days, put it on a rack over a plate in the fridge and drain the liquid off each day. That’s it. The cure is a sweet cure my dad uses – 3 parts salt, 2 parts brown sugar, and I add a handful of dried thyme. I tend to use shoulder rather than belly, and then slice and freeze it. It can be eaten raw, and the edges go like Jamon Serrano. Mmm. I agree with you that you’ve never eaten a BLT until you have made the bacon yourelf. I’m deffo going to give your bacon a go, too, it sounds delicious.

    • March 10, 2011 6:20 PM

      Sounds delicious delightful.
      Now I must get me to the butcher for a kosher cut that I can use for bacon from beef or lamb. Any ideas???

      • March 11, 2011 3:06 AM

        Yes! You can buy lamb belly and although it is thinner, it makes great bacon

  17. March 9, 2011 9:58 AM


  18. March 9, 2011 10:11 AM

    Ummmm…now I want some bacon. I think I’ll have breakfast for lunch today!


  19. March 9, 2011 10:32 AM

    Sounds amazing! You said you roasted it instead of smoking it. How did you go about it?

    • March 9, 2011 12:09 PM

      Roast in 200 degree oven for about 2 hours, or until the internal temperature is at 150 degrees. Works like a charm and you can taste the ingredients you cured the bacon with, as nothing is covered by the smoke!

  20. March 9, 2011 10:36 AM

    This is fantastic. I will be trying it, soon. Your blog is my new favorite, and you have a devoted follower.

  21. March 9, 2011 10:47 AM

    Could you please tell me more about Charcutepalooza, and where to find it. I love to cook, especially fond of smoking different meat.

  22. March 9, 2011 11:23 AM

    Just love lookin’ at your pics of bacon…drool!

  23. March 9, 2011 11:33 AM

    Wow that is strange. I was led to your post after reading a blog about Kevin Bacon 7 posts ago. So it is true, each blog is connected to Kevin bacon by 7 posts.



  24. March 9, 2011 12:07 PM

    Wow. I’ve never thought to make my own bacon before–and i love making things from scratch–until now. The process sounds easy, delicious, and has lots of room for creativity. Mmmmm, my mind is already filling with different flavor combinations (much like the way in which it did when I started making my own ice cream. I’m definitely going to try this.

    Also, curse your delicious looking photos and recipes! I’m so hungry, and now, am probably going to go on a bacon binge 🙂

  25. K9vin permalink
    March 9, 2011 12:11 PM

    mmm Bacon!

  26. The Sandwich Press permalink
    March 9, 2011 12:12 PM

    This looks amazing. I’ve been wanting to try chocolate dipped bacon, as I’ve often seen on tv, and I bet this would be really fantastic, especially because you said it’s less smokey. Great post, I think I’ve found myself a new project. Thanks!

    • March 9, 2011 7:08 PM

      Yeah – I would cure the bacon in a sweet manner – maybe with maple syrup, brown sugar, or honey – that way it will go better with the chocolate coating. Good luck and let me know how it turns out!

  27. Judith Shipstad permalink
    March 9, 2011 12:29 PM

    You are sick.

  28. March 9, 2011 12:35 PM

    This is just foodporn of the finest kind! No wonder WordPress decided to feature this on Foodpress and Freshly Pressed! Keep up the good work!

  29. March 9, 2011 12:41 PM

    Bacon is the new meat especialy without vegetables

  30. March 9, 2011 12:43 PM

    high cholesterol and my jewish upbringing be damned…i am going to crush a bacon cheeseburger for lunch today thanks to you!

    • March 9, 2011 7:07 PM

      Haha – glad I could help! Bacon does a body good!

  31. March 9, 2011 12:48 PM

    Yum! I love bacon. It’s cool that you found out roasting was better than smoking. Anyway, I’d like that BLT please. 🙂

    Congratulations on being FP!

  32. March 9, 2011 1:00 PM

    You have opened a whole new area of cooking for me. Is it cheaper to make your own bacon? I would of course have to smoke mine because as a southerner, we are addicted to that smokey flavor and take smoking as a serious art form.

    Blessings on you and yours and congrats on being Freshly Pressed
    John Wilder

    • March 9, 2011 7:06 PM

      Thanks for the kind words, John. I’m also from the south, so I love smoked bacon. Unfortunately, we had a ton of snow in Nashville and I figured I’d roast it first.

      I believe it’s quick a bit cheaper to cure your own bacon. I got about 5 pounds of pork belly for about $12. The other ingredients (salt, sugar, etc.) are almost negligible in price.

  33. March 9, 2011 1:36 PM

    Homemade Bacon? mmmm!! I’m off home now!

  34. March 9, 2011 2:51 PM

    very interesting, i never thought of roasting instead of smoking bacon.

    I will try this as soon as possible.

    • March 9, 2011 7:05 PM

      Yup! Gives it a very interesting taste, whereby you can taste the cure, without it being covered up by smoke.

  35. March 9, 2011 3:11 PM

    YUM! I love this.

  36. March 9, 2011 3:30 PM

    The pictures are great! I want to try this now…

  37. March 9, 2011 5:22 PM

    oh my. life is changed forever. Homemade bacon just jumped ahead of a Chloe bag on my birthday wishlist.

  38. March 9, 2011 5:46 PM

    oh wow that bacon looks amazing. bacon is my favorite food. the pictures alone look appetizing

  39. March 9, 2011 7:01 PM

    First time reader, really loved this post. Who doesn’t enjoy bacon? The asparagus dish looks and sounds phenomenal! So many of my favorite ingrediants. Thank you!

  40. March 9, 2011 8:18 PM

    Love those photos – you have great flair for food presentation. Kind of reminds me of Poh from Masterchef Australia.

  41. March 9, 2011 8:30 PM

    The pictures are great! i like this!

  42. Sherri permalink
    March 9, 2011 10:28 PM

    Because of bacon, I could never be a vegetarian.

  43. March 9, 2011 11:16 PM

    Bacon is the best breakfast accompaniment ever and you’ve made this fine delicacy look even more tantalizing. I never knew how to make it so thanks for the eye opening lesson. Your photos are scrumptious. I can practically taste the savory flavors right now!

  44. March 9, 2011 11:34 PM

    Wow– I am happily married, but if I wasn’t I think I would have just fallen in love with you! I love food, I love talking about it, thinking about it, and making it. You have a great voice. I feel like I took an epicurean adventure with you and I am so much better for it! And the photos are amazing- really styled well. Congrats on being freshly pressed, and on just being awesome in general.

    • March 10, 2011 12:16 AM

      Thanks for the kind words, Molly. I’m flattered!

  45. March 10, 2011 12:55 AM

    Sexy pictures! Love the title. Keep up the good work>

  46. March 10, 2011 2:54 AM

    You have a great voice. I feel like I took an epicurean adventure with you and I am so much better for it! And the photos are amazing- really styled well. The pictures are great! i like this!

  47. March 10, 2011 6:25 AM

    If God had intended us to follow recipes,
    He wouldn’t have given us grandmothers.
    ~Linda Henley

  48. March 10, 2011 6:31 AM

    This is making me so hungry! All I had for breakfast and lunch was toast. I love bacon… mmm, bacon…

  49. kako permalink
    March 10, 2011 9:18 AM


  50. March 10, 2011 10:40 AM

    Thanks for this post–from your description of the taste, I have to try this–especially for the BLT when my tomatoes are at their peak!

  51. March 10, 2011 11:04 AM

    Hmmm, bacon. I think you hit a lot of hearts, erh, I mean stomachs, with this one.
    Nice work, John

  52. March 10, 2011 1:34 PM

    Wow, it looks great. I like that bacon salad.

  53. realanonymousgirl2011 permalink
    March 10, 2011 4:34 PM

    Wow I was a little afraid to read this by just looking at the title…but yummy. I rarely eat bacon but all I can say thank goodness its not Friday!

  54. March 10, 2011 9:10 PM

    Wow, it looks great

  55. March 10, 2011 9:37 PM

    Dear Vivek
    I really applaud your efforts and the results look beautiful, you are doing “God’s Work” as Anthony Bourdain says on No Reservations almost every week! I am of the opinion that we in the US are missing out on Charcuterie compared to France,Spain, etc. My thing is terrine, I am fascinated by the thought of making them well, but my first try was not good, and the recipies are expensive to make. I will be checking in regular with you to see whats new.

    • March 11, 2011 3:08 AM

      Thanks for the kind words, Glen. Terrines are in the book, so I am sure we will make some before the end of the year!

  56. March 10, 2011 10:41 PM

    Thanks I love Bacon!

  57. March 11, 2011 9:17 AM

    This is just gorgeous. I’ve made my own sausage, plenty of times, but never tried bacon or pancetta. Seeing how much better the homemade stuff looks, I’ll have to try it.

  58. March 12, 2011 2:20 PM

    Oh my lord, I cannot tell you how much my mouth is watering right now. I *MUST* try this!
    Thank you so much for posting this.

  59. March 15, 2011 7:04 PM

    One word: Yum!

  60. Recipe Chefs permalink
    March 17, 2011 11:25 AM

    The pictures look fantastic. Thanks for sharing this recipe. Feel free to check out our recipes also

  61. March 23, 2011 1:39 AM

    Wow that looks amazing and delicious!

  62. March 23, 2011 10:25 AM

    What a great post! I never thought how easy this can be. Thank you for sharing!

  63. March 28, 2011 2:56 AM

    I love this! Great photos

  64. April 21, 2011 11:35 PM

    That is something I would have never thought to do. Yours looks so good. I think you are right about becoming more aware of the kinds of things we can do in our own home concerning making our own foods. I am getting anxious to put my garden in for this year and really want to tackle canning this year. I freeze some vegetables, but want to can tomatoes since I eat them year round, almost daily.
    Thanks for the recipe … and the inspiration!


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