Double Smoked Sweetcure Back Bacon With Juniper and Black Pepper

Home smoked sweetcure bacon....as part of a 'balanced' breakfast.

I was really pleased with my first attempt at bacon earlier in the year. It yielded a delicious mild tasting bacon with just a hint of smoke that came from the hickory smoke powder I used.

However, I did feel slightly like I was cheating by using smoke powder. Particularly when I realised how simple cold smoking was. I’m not going to go too deeply into the smoking process here because it really deserves its own post which I will write soon but I will say that immersing bacon in oak smoke is a a truly wonderful thing.

Because oak smoke is an intense flavour, any seasonings that go into the cure have to be equally robust if you want them to stand up to the smoke. I chose black pepper, juniper, and brown sugar which, when combined with salt, make a delicious, aromatic, salty sweet bacon which is perfect for breakfast.

I also wanted to use a different cut of pork. Streaky bacon is great (and supermarket streaky is usually British which for me is preferable from an ethical point of view) but back is my favourite when it comes to the breakfast plate.

The recipe follows.

Ingredients.

Jon’s Sweetcure Bacon with Juniper and Black Pepper.
1kg Pork loin
35g Salt
25g Dark brown sugar
2g Prague powder #1
4g Juniper
3g Black pepper

Juniper, Microscales,

Weighing juniper berries

Combine the sugar, salt and Prague powder in a bowl.  Roughly crush your juniper berries and peppercorns and add to the bowl. Mix well, ensuring that all of the ingredients are evenly distributed through the cure. This is vital as it prevents the nitrites from the prague powder becoming too concentrated in one spot in your bacon.

Take your loin of pork and rub it all over with your cure, ensuring you work the cure into all the nooks and crannies of the meat.

Pork loin, Salt, Brown Sugar, Juniper, Prague Powder

The loin, rubbed with cure.

When your meat is well coated transfer it to a freezer bag and seal. Place it in the fridge for a minimum of a week, turning and massaging every other day to ensure that the cure is evenly distributed. Don’t worry if any water leeches out of the meat. This will help to brine it and ensure that the cure penetrates right to the heart of the loin.

After 10 days or longer remove the meat from the bag and rinse under cold water. Pat dry and transfer to a rack before refrigerating for another 48 hours or so. This helps the smoke adhere to the outside of the bacon in the smoker.

Bacon, Cheese, Brie, Chicken Wings, Oak Smoke

Pork loin in the smoker alongside cheddar, brie and chicken wings.

Fire up your smoker and smoke the bacon over oak chips for a minimum of eight hours. My smoker runs for 11 hours which was long enough for me to go to the London Charcuterie Festival in the day time and go out for my mate Sam’s 30th birthday in the evening. On my return from the pub at some shameful hour of the morning I took the meat out of the smoker and transferred it to the refrigerator overnight.

The following day I fired up the smoker again and smoked the bacon for another 8 hours. The idea being to allow one layer of smoke to settle on the meat before giving it another smoke to really intensify the smokey flavour.

Bacon, Pork Loin, Cold Smoked. Oak Chips, Macs BBQ, ProQ

Finish smoked bacon. Lovely colour from two layers of oak smoke.

The bacon is now basically finished. All that remains is to slice it into rashers.  I left mine for another 24 hours after smoking to really make sure the smoke had settled on the meat.

You can slice it by hand but an electric slicer will ensure evenly sliced rashers and will allow you to slice a large amount of pork very quickly.

Slicing Bacon. A serious business.

Finished sliced bacon.

Your bacon is now finished. It’ll keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks or you can freeze the rashers individually and use them when you need a porky fix. They are sublime as part of a cooked breakfast and perfect for a late night emergency bacon sandwich.

A perfect Sunday breakfast. Home made bacon and smoked white pudding with fried egg, toast, and chilli sauce.

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White Pudding

White pudding, homemade bread, salad. Wonderful.

White pudding is a breakfast sausage made of pork, oatmeal and spices and is popular across Scotland, Ireland and the north of England. My personal favourite comes from the Barrowin Furness  fishmongers in Borough Market who make little individual puddings for frying. What I didn’t realise until reading the excellent sausagemaking.org forum was how easy they are to make. When I read johnfb’s recipe (who also advised on forming the sausages in cling film) I knew I had to have a go at it myself. I made a couple of tweaks to John’s original recipe both for personal taste and to try and match it more with the Borough Market puddings. After all, what can’t be improved by adding bacon?

The results are fantastic. Sliced and fried, the pudding makes a good friend to bacon and eggs on the breakfast plate or just mashed on toast like pate. The recipe is below.

Preparing the pudding mixture

Jon’s White Pudding
600g pork cubed and chilled
375g oatmeal soaked in a roughly similar amount of water
50g leek chopped
50g bacon (I used this) chopped
10g salt
5g celery salt
20g  cornflour
2 1/2g white pepper
2 1/2g ground coriander
2 1/2g ginger
2 1/2g sage
2 1/2g MSG
1 1/2g mace
1 1/2g nutmeg
1g allspice

First take your oatmeal and soak it in water for a few minutes. I left mine for twenty simply because that was how long it took me to weigh out the spices and cube and chill the meat.

The next step is to combine everything except the bacon in a large mixing bowl and stir until it’s all thoroughly mixed. Oatmeal may well be the stickiest substance known to man so be careful to ensure that it doesn’t drag you down into the bowl like some kind of porridgy kraken.

Pork, Oatmeal, Leek, Spices

The ingredients ready for mincing.

Slowly feed the mixture through your mincer, making sure that its fitted with the smallest mincing plate you have. Keep feeding the mixture through until all of your ingredients are minced before returning to your mixing bowl, adding the chopped bacon and giving it a final stir. Don’t worry if it looks a bit weird. Pork and porridge are not the most visually appealing bedfellows. Fortunately it tastes amazing!

White Pudding Mixture

Mixed oatmeal and pork. Looking slightly evil

Now you have your white pudding mix made up, the next step is turn it into sausages. You can stuff it into hog casings (in which case prepare and stuff them in the usual way) or do as I did and form them into skinless sausages by wrapping them in cling film.

The process for this is quite simple. People who have rolled their own should have no problem with it. Take a large square of clingfilm and put a few spoonfuls of your pudding mixture in the centre. Fold the clingfilm over and press it down to make a patty. Roll your patty back and forth until you have a decent sausage shape then twist off the ends. Keep twisting until both ends are really tight to force the meat down into a more compact pudding. Make sure the sausage is tightly sealed to prevent any mixture leaking out when you’re poaching the sausages.

Repeat this with the remaining mixture until you have several fully formed white puddings ready to poach. The recipe above left me with four big puddings but that’ll vary depending on how large your sausages are.

White Pudding wrapped in cling film to make a sausage

A white pudding skinless sausage

It’s probably a good idea to rest your pudding for a while before you poach them. I left mine for twenty four hours in the fridge to let the flavours develop.

When you’re ready to poach your puddings set a large covered pan of water on the stove and bring it to a gentle simmer. Poach your puddings for twenty to thirty minutes depending on their size then lift them out of the water and leave to cool.

Poaching white pudding for 2- mins in simmering water

Poaching the puddings

Your puddings are now ready to fry as part of an excellent breakfast or spread on toast with a caper and onion salad.

I wanted a bit of variety in the flavour of the puddings and as I’ve just built myself a cold smoker in my friend’s garden, these seemed like an ideal candidate for the inaugural run. I don’t want to write too much about the smoking process as I’m going to cover it in more detail in its own post but I left two puddings unsmoked, smoked one for four hours, and one for eight. You can see the last one in the smoke box (with other treats) below.

Cold smoking. White pudding on the left.

The puddings were then sliced and frozen but not before frying up a plate of them to try them. They’re all fabulous! Rich, creamy and intensely savoury. The pork adds a deeper level of flavour to them but to be honest, smoked or unsmoked, they’re both bloody tasty!


Finished puddings. Heavily smoked at the front, lightly smoked in the middle, unsmoked at the back