Honey acts as a great preservative and it tastes fantastic, too. Here I’ve varied my usual sugar-cured bacon recipe with a little blue gum honey (you can use any local honey). The end result can be sliced thickly or thinly, used in recipes or just for a fry-up. Be careful, however, when you fry it, to have it on low heat as the honey will make it burn quicker than your usual bacon.
- 5 litres water
- 500 g salt
- 300 g honey
- 5 g sodium nitrate (see Note)
- 3 g sodium erythorbate
- 4 kg piece pork belly, streaky bit only
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Curing time 3 days
Smoking time 3 hours
Mix the water, salt, honey, sodium nitrate and erythorbate in a large plastic tub until dissolved. Add the pork belly, and leave in a cold place (about 12°C), ideally the fridge, for 3 days.
When cured, remove meat and hang in a cold place (about 12°C) to dry overnight. Cold-smoke the bacon for about 3 hours, and it should be ready to use immediately, though it’s better after a couple of days. You can hot-smoke it too, but this will mean the bacon won’t keep as well.
• Sodium nitrate is considered a controversial ingredient by some but only very small amounts are used. Other curing compounds are available online, or a butcher that cures his own meats might supply you with a small amount.