Today TuckShop Kitchen is sharing how their beloved bacon is made! Have you ever wondered what goes into making bacon? It turns out, there'sa lot more than meets the eye. Jake Taylor, Chef and Co-Owner of TuckShop Kitchen has produced over 10,000lbs of bacon, by hand, in a Toronto neighbourhood sandwich shop.
To begin their process of making bacon, TuckShop Kitchen sources high-quality whole pork belly. American-style streaky bacon is made from the pork belly, which is the fattiest (yet possibly the tastiest!) part of the animal. This is why alternating strips of meat and fat are found on each piece of bacon.
Each piece of pork belly is weighed so that the correct amount of cure can be applied to each piece. This precision is a key component to ensuring a consistent cure and every time. This is especially important given they produce upwards of 100 pounds of bacon in a single week.
When you’re making such large quantities of bacon, many producers take a short-cut by curing the bacon en masse. However, when you cure bacon en masse, you can be left with either too much or too little cure on each piece. TuckShop Cures in smaller batches allows for more consistency in flavour and cure on each piece of bacon.
What’s in a cure?
Curing the bacon is the process which adds flavour and preserves the meat. There are two methods, wet cures and dry cures: Wet Cures involve submerging raw pork belly into a brine (Water, salt, and spice mix) while Dry Cures involve a spice mix which is rubbed onto raw meat.
If you’ve ever wondered why your bacon shrinks down so much while cooking, it’s likely because you’ve purchased wet-cured bacon. Many mass market brands use a wet cure because it’s an easier process – simply make a big vat of brine and toss in your raw pork bellies to cure.
Hand rubbed spices for maximum flavour.
Dry curing bacon is a more involved process because you’re rubbing the cure into each piece of pork belly. Although this method requires more effort, TuckShop Kitchen uses the dry cure method because it results in better texture for the bacon, and rubbing the dry cure into the meat also allows the spices to infuse deeper, resulting in better flavour. Once the dry cure is portioned based on the weight of each piece of pork belly and rubbed all over the meat, the pork belly pieces are individually bagged.
Good things come to those who wait! After the pork belly pieces are bagged, they cure for one week in the fridge. During that time, the salt cure draws out some of the moisture of the pork belly, resulting in the fat becoming firmer and more textured. Unlike a wet cure, which adds additional liquid to the pork belly, a dry cure removes liquid (which is what you want to do when making crispy bacon). This extra time also allows the cure to work its way through the meat, adding additional flavour.
During its time in the fridge, the bagged pork belly is rotated daily so that each piece cures evenly. After a week, the pork belly is rinsed off and left to air dry for about 24 hours. Air drying is an important part of the process when making bacon; it allows a layer of protein to develop on the surface of the bacon which seals in moisture, prevents the fat from spoiling, and allows smoke particles to cling to the meat more effectively.
Ready to smoke
Smoking the meat for three hours in a smoker is the final step of TuckShop Kitchen’s process of making bacon. The meat is then thick cut to give more meat and flavour to every sandwich!
Want to learn more about TuckShop Kitchen?
You can learn more about Chef Jake and his crew by reading their Vendor Profile