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"De gustibus non est disputandum"
(there is no disputing about tastes)
Michael Thorne Executive Chef,
Atomic Gourmet
Recipe search

Difficulty Level: Hard
Recipe Id: GER121

Schinkenspeck (German Bacon)

For 10 pounds total:

  • 2 1/2 gal ice water
  • 8 oz kosher salt
  • 8 oz prague powder #1
  • 2 1/2 oz powdered dextrose
  • 2 1/2 oz ground white pepper
  • 1 1/2 oz ground juniper berries

It's a lot of work, especially if you're working alone, but it is a beautiful finished product that is well worth the trouble.

The original procedure calls for a whole fresh pork ham, but any I make in the future will be made with pork loins. The reason for that is simple - the center part is round and pork loins are naturally round. If you use a ham, you have to fit together various pieces of the muscle to get the right shape and use gelatin to hold them together. The loin will make the center more like Canadian bacon, but that's no problem as far as I'm concerned.

  1. Remove the skin from the bacon before curing.
  2. Spray-pump both the bacon and ham at 10% of their weight with the cure. Then you let them cure for 5 to 6 days at 40 F.
  3. Lay the bacon slab out on a counter top and fit it around the ham. (You may have to trim off parts of the ham where it's too wide and fit such trimmings in places where it is too narrow.)
  4.  Just sprinkle them with unflavored gelatin and they'll stay there after the smoking.
  5. When the bacon fits nicely around the ham, sprinkle it with gelation and tie it up like a rolled rib roast. (Working alone, I found skewers helpful for this part of the process, securing one end while I worked on tying the other. This took nearly an hour on my first attempt!)
  6. Then you put the whole thing in a stockinette bag and let it rest in a 135 F smokehouse until it gets to 128 F internal - just like bacon, but it will take longer because of the greater thickness.
  7. It was far too thick for my home slicer, so I took it to the butcher, where I had purchased the meat, and let him cut it on his professional grade slicer.
  8. Put it in the freezer first, for about 6 hours, so it was easier to slice consistently.

I found it fried up best at very low heat in a cast iron skillet. The sugar in it will carmelize and make a mess even at moderate temperatures. Then prepare yourself to taste the finest bacon you've ever had - I'm not kidding, the delicacy of the juniper berries and the faint sweetness make this a treat you'll never forget.

Yield : 10 pounds


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