Making bacon is essentially the same as pancetta but with a bit of smoke thrown in at the end. If you buy imported bacon this probably won’t end up being much cheaper but it will be far better tasting.
The two ways to salt bacon are by using a dry cure or a wet cure (essentially soaking in brine). I opted for a dry cure, but I am keen to try a wet cure another time.
If you like rind on your bacon leave the skin on, otherwise take it off now. Place your pork belly in a zip lock bag, add the cure and leave in the fridge for around a week or until the pork has become noticeably stiffer. Check the bacon each day, turning it and checking that the cure gets into every nook and cranny.
For 1kg of pork use:
25 grams salt
15 grams sugar
3 bay leaves
Teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves
Once salted, wash the cure off, pat dry and leave for 24 hours. The pork should be much stiffer now it’s been salted.
I opted for a ten hour smoke with oak sawdust but if you like your bacon green (unsmoked) then you can miss this step. I find it helpful to freeze it in small batches as well as cubing much of it for lardons. Make sure you freeze the lardons separately before adding to a freezer bag to avoid it freezing in one big block – this way you can get as many out as you need. This bag of lardons has definitely saved me on a number of occasions when the fridge is running empty – it’s very useful for impromptu carbonaras and risottos.