The Kids Cook Monday – Monday May 16th, 2011 – “Guanciale”

My daughter hasn’t been in the mood to cook lately, but she was proud to make her own guanciale, a form of bacon using the cheek of the pig.  In the past year we have been buying more and more protein straight from the farm, and making our own bacon is one of the things we do with the meat. It’s unbelievably easy, but it does take about two to four weeks from start to finish. In the end you will get a piece of bacon that is completely organic and great tasting.  Below are pictures of the hanging stage and the result. This project is so kid friendly and you can find a great link and recipe here:

Alessandra had a fun time mixing the curing ingredients and rubbing it on the meat. She then quickly washed her hands very well and we placed them in the refrigerator for about 9 days. After that stage, we rinsed off the salt mixture, and patted them down with a paper towel and hung them in the wine refrigerator for two weeks. Ideal conditions are 60 degrees F, and about 70% humidity, but 60% or higher will still work. It was always cute and fun to watch her say “we’re making bacon!”, or turning on the curing refrigerator light on so she could see them hanging to dry. You can do longer, but for the first piece we tried it after 2 weeks. Some people hang the curing meat in the kitchen, but my wife frowned upon it. Since this refrigerator is next to our dining table, she was able to look at it every day and help me fan the bacon with fresh air using a handheld fan. Then the day came, and I cut thin slices using my chef’s knife. It was very good and since it was home cured it didn’t take long to cook. The basic premise of curing is to take moisture out of the meat, and the salt mixture will eliminate any bacteria from growing. It’s worked since the days of Egypt. We plan to use the guanciale for carbonara, and whenever we need bacon.

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