For the last six months of 2012, we were splitting monthly shipments from the now-defunct Godfrey Family Farm's meat CSA. In previous years, we had taken on the shipments all by ourselves, but it turns out that 15 pounds of meat a month is a lot even for two grown men. In fact, even seven and a half pounds can be overwhelming.
Like most CSAs, we didn't have any control over what was in the mix. On the one hand, it's fun getting things you might not otherwise buy for yourself, like goat chops or a veal roast. And then there's the stuff like soup bones or pork fat that end up sitting in the freezer for a while.
One of the things we ended up with a substantial backlog of was fresh side. As in about seven pounds of it. Although it can be braised like pork belly, we didn't figure we'd find a way to consume that much of it. Bacon, on the other hand, is another matter altogether.
Funnily enough, I've made guanciale and pancetta, even salami for heaven's sake, but never before had I made bacon. But thanks to an ongoing stream of posts on Punk Domestics, including a bunch from 2010's Charcutepalooza challenge, I had no shortage of inspiration.
Most of the side was in one large slab, which I divided into two pieces. The smaller half I used to make Hank Shaw's recipe for Sichuan bacon; the larger was a more straight-up American style. Both of these I smoked using CHOW's technique for oven smoking, as we have no place for a real smoker. Another package contained about a pound of pre-sliced side, which I gave a simple pancetta-like cure and left unsmoked.
dpaul baked up a few loaves of white and wheat. Yesterday morning I hand cut and baked off the bacon in three batches, and whipped up a batch of mayonnaise. Iceburg lettuce and tomatoes, check. Of course, tomatoes are craptastic this time of year, so we threw out a few other accoutrements to add some life to the sandwiches, like homemade ketchup, some Dijon mustard and a bit of Skillet's amazing bacon jam gifted to us by some friends. Cuz, you know, there wasn't enough bacon.
It was a DIY affair in every sense — we made the fixings, and our guests got to compose their own sandwiches, a fun, fresh way to usher in the new year over a few glasses bottles of sparkling wine.