Welcome to the How-To series, a periodic segment of photo essays that highlight the dishes and drinks that area restaurants do well, who makes them, and how they do it. This week, writer Sara Ventiera learns how to make bacon.
Since opening last summer, executive chef Chris Miracolo of Max's Harvest has been gaining notoriety in the farm-to-table movement of South Florida. In keeping with a focus of
local, sustainable foods, he and his staff make everything in-house.
everything. According to Miracolo, "The only thing we don't make in-house is
ketchup. You can't keep up with Heinz." Miracolo is known for
his work with pork: homemade tasso, pancetta, pork belly, and its most
ubiquitous form, bacon. Here is Miracolo's take on do-it-yourself bacon.
He combines equal parts kosher salt and sugar, with a dollop of maple syrup, until it takes on the consistency of wet beach sand. He insists that it is of the utmost
importance to use the real stuff. "It's not cheap, but it makes a huge difference." He generously coats the belly in
the mixture, then Cryovacs it.
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To cure, he places it in the fridge
for eight days, turning it over periodically. After the curing period, the
bellies are pulled out of their bags, rinsed, and dried with a
paper towels. They must dry for at least another six hours overnight to
ensure there is a minimal amount of moisture in the slab before smoking.
Next comes the fun part: smoking. Miracolo slightly dries the wood chips by toasting them in a stovetop pan.
He ignites the mixture before spreading a thin layer onto about a third of the bottom tray of the smoker, above. The racks are set up to allow the slabs to smoke over indirect heat, with enough room between each piece to achieve a nice dry brown on all sides. Miracolo says that he must ensure there is some sort of hole so oxygen can get to the wood
chips. The bellies smoke at 225 degrees for about two
and a half hours.
As soon as his thermometer
registers 150 degrees, he
removes the first belly from the smoker, allowing it cool for 30 minutes before
slab, render a few pieces, and go to town. Could you blame us?