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Boshizzle 07-08-2011 11:31 PM

The Things We Take For Granted - My Dad's Bacon
I remember when I was a kid living at home, many mornings my Dad would come in my room and wake me by pulling my toes and saying "Get up! Come eat breakfast!" I was annoyed at it every time until I got a whiff of the heavenly aroma coming from the kitchen. The smell was my Mother cooking bacon that came from hogs that my Dad raised, slaughtered, butchered, and smoked. When I got a nose full of that smell of cooking bacon, I was up, dressed, teeth brushed and ready to eat. I knew that there would be bacon, hoe cake or biscuits, eggs, and white gravy waiting.

How I wish I could travel back in time to those days. Back then, my Dad's bacon was just a part of our lives. I had no idea how special it was. What I would give to be able to eat my Mom's hoe cake or biscuits one more time with that bacon and gravy. But, those days will never come again.

But, that doesn't mean that I can't try. I had a talk with my Dad recently and asked him how he made bacon back in those days. He told me he made it the same way his father made it. All they did was rub the meat down with salt and pepper and let it cure in the meat house for a couple of months and then smoked it with hickory.

Now, back in those days the weather around here was a little different than it is today. It was cold from November to March every year. I remember that the week of Thanksgiving was hog killing week because that's when the weather was cold enough to preserve meat without refrigeration. The hogs would be slaughtered and cleaned then hung in the meat house. The hams, bellies, and hocks would be rubbed down with only salt and pepper and allowed to cure for about two months then smoked with hickory. The loin, chops, ribs, and shoulders would be frozen. The chitlins would be well cleaned, some braided, and some frozen and some soon fried on a wood stove my Dad kept in the basement and served to close friends and family. The fat back was cured and hung in the meat house. Scraps of fat were cooked outside over a wood fire in a large SS drum to make lard.

But, what I miss most is the bacon. The bacon was made by my Father the same way his Father made it. He rubbed it only with salt and pepper and hung it in the smoke house for about 2 months and then smoked it with hickory. No TQ, no pink salt, no maple syrup. Just salt and pepper was used to cure it.

Yes, it was salty. In fact, my Mother would soak the meat the night before to remove much of the salt before cooking it in the morning. But, the meat was delicious. It was thick, it had a hard "rim" on it which was the hog's skin that would crisp up when fried. It was like NOTHING you can buy in stores nowadays.

So, while I can't reproduce the process exactly right now, I will have to wait until January for that, I will be giving it a try using a modified method of making my Dad's bacon. I picked up a 12 pound pork belly from the butcher today and will be beginning the curing process this weekend. I will have to wait until the winter to try and reproduce exactly what my Dad did to make his bacon. Hopefully, the process that I am going to use now will come close.

Here is a pic of the 12 pound pork belly I got today from my butcher. I will post some followup pics as the process progresses.

Thanks for looking.

FamilyManBBQ 07-08-2011 11:54 PM

Can't wait!! Great story Bo!

boogiesnap 07-08-2011 11:58 PM

i look forward to more.

thanks for sharing, bo.

Harbormaster 07-09-2011 12:24 AM

This is gonna be epic.

Brewer 07-09-2011 12:28 AM

Bo - not only is that a great story but you have a mighty fine lookin belly section there! Let me know how the dry cure works. I've had good results with a wet cure but haven't been able to get anywhere close to perfecting a dry cure.

Smiter Q 07-09-2011 12:30 AM

Wow... what a great story on so many levels. Thanks for sharing this.
I found it quite nostalgic and touching.:thumb:

EDIT: Also mouthwatering and hungering!

RevZiLLa 07-09-2011 02:36 AM

You're dad is proud of you...and you sure are of him and your mom!

aquablue22 07-09-2011 07:10 AM

That's a great story, I do about 10 pounds at a time, when I get down to 2or3 in the freezer, time to do it again. Your right about nothing being better!

Norm 07-09-2011 08:28 AM

What a great story Bo, thanks for sharing it.

Smoker101 07-09-2011 11:36 AM

as a quick note. when my dad made his own cured bacon he did the salt and pepper method and then put them in his spare refrigerator for a couple of months. not sure how you will do it but i know it will turn out good. good luck with the bacon making process and please keep us posted on how it works out.

bigabyte 07-09-2011 03:22 PM

Looking good to start!:cool: Thanks for sharing.

SmokinAussie 07-09-2011 08:05 PM

I'm hooked on that story. Hope you can bring your fathers craft back. These skills should not be lost. I'll be watching with interest!



Boshizzle 07-10-2011 12:13 AM

Thanks, brethren!

SmokinAussie, I agree that this craft should not be lost. It goes way way back in my family and someone should keep it alive.

I started the curing process this morning. I am going to take some liberties this time around but still try and maintain the character of my Dad's bacon as best I can during the summer months and without a meat house in which to hang the meat.

Here is the rub. Just salt and fresh cracked pepper.

I cut the pork belly into 3 sections to make it easier to handle.

I rubbed all of the pieces down well with the salt and pepper.

Then, I put them in a small fridge I keep in the garage.

Stay tuned for more pics tomorrow.

BTW - if you've never tried hoe cake, stop depriving yourself. Growing up, my mother would mix self rising flour with a little milk and lard into what is basically a biscuit dough consistency. Then, she would cook it in a pan on top of the stove much like you would cook a pancake.

I asked one time why it was called "hoe cake" and my Dad told me that back in the great depression workers would cook bread on the blades of their hoes using this kind of recipe so it was called "hoe cake."

It's some delicious stuff when hot and goes with anything. I used to mix King syrup with butter and scoop it onto the hot hoe cake with a butter knife and it was incredible.

My Mother would actually mix bacon grease into the king syrup and "make it dead" and eat it on hoe cake. I asked her what she meant and she told me that "make it dead" was what her parents used to call it. Basically, you mix the bacon grease into the syrup until it emulsifies and, somehow, that "makes it dead." :-D Yeah, I never understood it either.

Thanks for looking.

boogiesnap 07-10-2011 01:05 AM

bro, i am all over this thread.

i love, love, love, what you're doing.

Norm 07-10-2011 09:22 AM

Me too, looking forward to updates!

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