When it comes to classic flavour combinations, cheese and bacon has to rate somewhere near the top. Individually, cheese and bacon have to rate among mankind’s most beloved creations -penicillin and democracy be damned- so when I decided to attempt to make my own bacon, there was only one thing I wanted to pair it with – guess what?
If you guessed cheese – congratulations, you have an attention span superior to several breeds of dog!
⦁ 1 kg pork belly
⦁ 100g salt
⦁ 50g caster sugar
⦁ 1 tsp prague powder
⦁ 500 mls maple syrup
If I knew making bacon was this easy, I’d have done it long ago. Mix together the salts and sugar in a bowl. Take the pork belly, slice the skin off, leaving a small amount of fat on top, then rub with the curing mix, place in a sandwich bag, seal, and leave in the fridge for about 4 days, or up to a week, turning over each day. At this point the pork should be quite a bit firmer. Remove from the bag and rinse under cold water.
Next, take the pork belly and smoke for about 2-3 hours at about 120 degrees, which I achieved with a bradley smoker. With the Bradley smoker, temperature-controlled smoking is a breeze! Wow..that was a really enthusiastic endorsement. I promise I’m not a paid shill, but hey, if Bradley want to send me some free merch, I won’t object. I even have a great tagline they can use in their ads: “With Bradley, you’ll even want your pregnant wife and kids to start smoking”. You’re welcome, Bradley.
Anyway, by this stage the pork should be smoky and pretty wonderful – but the best part is yet to come.
Take the pork belly and slice into lengths. Pan fry on a gentle heat until slightly caramelised, then transfer to a saucepan with the maple syrup. Bring to a simmer and leave for half an hour, then turn off the heat and leave for another 10 minutes or so.
DORITOS FRIED CHEESE
⦁ 1 packet nacho cheese doritos
⦁ 1 block cheddar cheese
⦁ 1 Egg, whisked
So, so delicious. Cut a big wedge of the cheese, dust with flour, then dredge in the egg.Crush up a few handfuls of chips and roll the cheese around. At this point, transfer to the freezer for about half an hour.
Heat a saucepan of oil to about 160 degrees and add the cheese. Fry until golden and fantastic – about 5 minutes.
⦁ 1 green apple
⦁ Apple cider vinegar
⦁ Caster sugar
⦁ 1 stick cinnamon
⦁ A pinch of salt
I haven’t provided quantities here for the ingredients because I don’t know them; when it comes to pickling I usually just eyeball the ingredients and taste for balance- and you should too. No one should be beholden to recipes! Anyway, add the vinegar, sugar, cinnamon and salt into a saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Turn off the heat and leave to cool. Slice the apple thinly, place in the pickling solution and chuck in the fridge for a day or so.
BRIOCHE AND HAZELNUT CRUMB
⦁ 50g brioche
⦁ a few hazelnuts
⦁ tiny pinch of cinnamon
⦁ A pinch of salt
Heat some butter in a saucepan until brown, then blitz the ingredients in a food processor, add to the saucepan and fry until browned. Drain on kitchen paper
MAPLE GLAZED HAZELNUTS
Pinch of salt
Melt some butter in a sacuepan and then use some of the leftover maple syrup from cooking the bacon, in all its smoky, salty goodness, and spoon into the saucepan. Add the hazelnuts and gently heat for a few minutes, then turn off the heat and leave for another couple of minutes.
So how did it all taste? Honestly, amazeballs. I could take or leave the hazelnut and brioche crumb, but the apple, bacon and cheese were absiolutely phenomenal. Seriously, so freakin yummy. I’ll be making this one again for sure.