Georgia's State Flags,
Home of Good Eats
|FS: Chef Bayou. [thunderous applause, as Bayou enters carrying a wine bottle and glass]||
|FS: Chef Southwest. [more applause as Southwest enters in Western gear with a little black hat]||
|FS: Chef Prairie. [applause]||
FS: And now it's time to meet the poor sap who's come lookin' for his fight. You know him and if you're his mother, you love him. Straight from the Food Network, Alton Brown.
[enters thru door full of smoke, coughing] This is not Iron Chef. This is definitely not Iron Chef. This is not Iron Chef. This is ...
FS: Which of these magnificent Scrap Iron Chefs do you challenge.
CHEF BIJOU: I'll whomp your butt, boy. I guar-on-tee.
CHEF SOUTHWEST: I'm commin'. And the hat's commin' with me.
CHEF PRAIRIE: [all sweet] Hi.
AB: I ... I challenge her.
FS: So be it. And now it's time to reveal today's mystery ingredient: pork belly!
AB: Jeepers. How long do you reckon this stuff's been in the sun?
A2:: Little does challenger Brown know that Chef Prairie grew up on a hog farm outside of Topeka. [CP takes pork belly and whomps AB across the face with it]
FS: I'm not a doctor, but that had to hurt.
You know, when I think pork belly, I think bacon. And why not make your own bacon? I mean the ingredients are dirt cheap. It's easy as pie to make. No. It's easier than pie to make. Heck, that hardest thing is finding the piece of meat and we've already got that taken care of. But above all until you have made your own bacon, you haven't eaten real bacon.
I think I can find all the bits and pieces I need around this junkyard to cure and smoke that bad boy. My biggest concern right now is refrigeration. I've got to get that out of the danger zone. [dingo hand puppet takes Alton's pork belly] That's that temperature range between 40 and 140 degrees ... That dingo ate my belly. Excuse me.
A2: It looks like contestant Brown's goose is cooked ... or is it? [AB takes old bike and peddles to ...]
AB: What do you have for a humble bacon-maker, my good man?
BUTCHER: That depends on what kind you're making.
|[in front of a model pig] He's right, of course. Sure, American, English and Italian bacon comes from down here.||
|But the word "bacon" actually comes from the old German word, bah, or "back". Canadian bacon and Irish bacon, for instance, both come from the back, the loin to be exact. And they're a heck of a lot leaner than these bacons from down here but they don't taste anything alike so don't try to replace them in a recipe.||
Oh, fat back also comes from back here. It's actually a solid layer of fat that lays just on top of the meat. Of course you
wouldn't eat it like bacon. You'd usually render it into lard or wrap it around leaner pieces of meat in order to keep them moist during cooking.
Last but not least is salt pork which comes from down here on the belly. It's parts that are too fat, even to be called bacon. They're cured, but
Oh. That Italian bacon, pancetta, it's also taken from the belly. It's cured, not smoked. And it comes all rolled up kind of funny looking. It's really hard to cut. The secret is to freeze it partway first.
AB: I'll have a slab of pork belly, my good man.
B: Okay. Front or back.
Okay. Technically this whole thing is the belly but bacon taken from the front is pretty skimpy stuff 'cause it has to be peeled off of the rib. There's a lot more meat back here.
AB: My good man, I'll have a slab from the back of the belly please.
AB: Thank you very much. Very nice.
Of course you know, since it's just as easy to smoke a year's worth as a day's worth, ...
AB: ... I'll take 5.
A2: Back at Scrap Iron Stadium, contestant Brown must come to terms with
keeping his cool ... pork, that is.
[AB builds "refrigerator" with junkyard parts]
[peddling on a stationary bike, winded] Since this is a junk yard there's no kitchen. And
since there's no kitchen there's no refrigerator and I had to get these pork bellies chilled down. So I hooked up this bicycle to this old
generator back here, cranking out 110 to that old soda refrigerator there. And I've been pumping about 4 hours now, I guess, waiting for that
thing to get down to about 32 degrees, 33 degrees so I can get off for awhile and go find some ingredients for a brine. I don't know how much
more I can ... [stops peddling]
You know, once I get the brine put together I'm going to have to do this I figure about, I don't know, 20 minutes every hour to keep things chilled down for the 3 days of the cure. But, you know, since there's not a kitchen here and no refrigerator I don't have a choice. I have to go find some ingredients now. Woo!
A2: Well it seems that contestant Brown has discovered two of the hidden
ingredients he needs, sugar and salt. The question is, can he keep them?
I need salt for a brine. You see one of the reasons that the bacon keeps so long is that it's been both cured and smoked. Okay, curing basically uses salt to pull moisture out of the meat. And the less moisture that's in the meat, the more inhospitable it is to bacteria, the ones that cause spoilage. Of course curing also prepares the meat for meeting up with smoke. And aside from possessing preservative powers of its own, smoke also brings a lot of flavor, a lot of aroma, and a lot of color to the party which is a good thing.
2 CUPS KOSHER SALT
Of course to make a cure all we'd really have to have is salt but that would be really strong. So I'm going to marry it to some sugar that I found in a cotton candy machine over on the other side of the yard. [hand appears and steals the sugar] [sighs] Okay. Fine. That's how she wants to play it. She may have the sugar, but I've got the bicycle.
BESIDES BEING EASY TO MAKE AND GREAT TASTING,
HOME-MADE BACON CONTAINS NO NITRATES OR NITRITES.
[riding bicycle through store] Now if I had my druthers I'd probably go with a dry cure on my bacon just because I like the flavor better. The thing is is that dry cures are very, very strong but they're also very, very slow and time is not on my side. So I'm going to go with a wet cure which is really nothing more than a souped up brine. Now we use brines all the time on Good Eats to enhance the flavor and texture of things like, oh, turkey and even shrimp.
AB: Excuse me. [rings the bicycle bell] Thank you.
Now the thing here is to increase the salt concentration of the brine and increase the amount of time that the food actually spends in "the drink," so to speak. And that is going to actually going to alter the molecular structure of the meat by pulling a lot of moisture out of it. So for our ten pounds of pork bellies I'm going to dissolve the salt we've already got and add to it some sugar and ...
A2: ... a jar of Blackstrap molasses. Contestant Brown rounds out his pantry with black pepper, fresh ground of course. And a little apple cider. Some fresh clean water. Hmm. What's he going to do with that fiery Kimchee, I wonder.
BACON CURE: 2 SLABS
Big Bob's JIGANTIC JOG O' KIMCHEE
Ordinarily I would bring a brine to a simmer on a cook top just to make sure that everything's dissolved and that the aromatics are opened up and activated. But I don't have a cook top out here but I do have some other technologies that I can bring to bear. [places magnifying glass in front of the jar of brine] If I play my cards right in this bright sun, I think this will be hot in about an hour ... as long as she doesn't find it first.
FOR MORE WET AND DRY CURE RECIPES VISIT FOODTV.COM.
A2: It looks like contestant Brown will "relish" in some revenge. [AB pours Kimchi in CP's pot]
Well it seems like this plan has worked. My probe says that the box here is, hey, 35 degrees. Just about perfect. It's not home but it's close. Now I've got bellies in brine in bags. No they didn't give me the bags. I had to sneak them in from home but I always travel with a few. Now these are going to stay in refrigeration for about 3 days. You could get by with 2 but 3, the flavor's really going to saturate. And I'm also going to turn these bags about once every 24 hours.
A2:: It seems that contestant Brown has a little leisure time on his hands.
CP: [being interviewed in background] ... my belly stew ...
A2:: Or maybe he'll take a moment to add a little spark to Chef Prairie's stew.
AB: [drops a spark plug into Chef Prairie's pot]
CP: ... my great-great-grandmother, Laura Ingles, cooked it in her little house ...
[grunts] Ahh. Score. [finds a hot plate]
A2: Contestant Brown's busily shopping the yard. The question is where is that wily mid-Western mother of five?
CP: [takes the hot plate]
Well, three days and 12 hundred miles of peddling and I have maintained ... well, we're down to 34 degrees. That's great. It's
finally time to get these heading towards the smoker. But before they can hit the smoke, they've got to be dried
thoroughly. No dry, no pellicle, right?
[bacon drying above AC unit fan] The whole reason for drying food before you smoke it is pellicle formation, okay? Now that's what you call it when a cure pulls water soluble proteins up to the surface of the meat. When dry these proteins form a kind of molecularly sticky landing pad for smoke particles. Sure some of the smoke is vapor but the other part is particulate matter, okay? It's a colloid thing.
COLLOID: A GAS OR LIQUID WHICH HAS VERY
SMALL PARTICLES DISPERSED THROUGHOUT.
Anyway, you can do this at home just by putting the meat out on racks and next to a household fan. You just have to make sure that the meat's elevated so that it doesn't sit in its own fluids. How long it'll take to dry kind of depends on the meat, the relative humidity, the speed of the fan, the temperature. But on average I'd say about half and hour per side will do if you've got a strong fan. Oh and make sure that you get the meat high enough so that the dingoes can't get it.
70% OF THE BACON IN THE UNITED STATES IS EATEN AT BREAKFAST.
After three days in the brine and an evening of drying, just a few hours of drying, our bacon is now smoking. And I just want to kind of show you what's happening right now. Now a few months ago on Good Eats we did some hot smoking. We hot smoked some salmon. And the way that works is we've got a single chamber. We used a cardboard box, got a burner in the bottom—electric—with a cast iron skillet full of wood chips. That generates smoke and comes up to the food located above. Now it's important to note that this method, you're just basically cooking with smoke. Okay? I mean it's hot smoking. The food is smoked and it's cooked.
You see bacon's not that way. Not at all. See, when you're cold smoking something, something that's going to be smoked but still raw, you need two different chambers. You need a two chamber smoker. You need a smaller box—and I use cardboard again—to generate the smoke. This is called the smoke box or the hot box. You've got the burner with the pan and the smoke. And then the smoke travels through a piece of duct work, just from the hardware store, to another larger box where it meets the food.
Take a look at what we've done over here. We've basically found a way to put together ... Heh, heh. Who's "we", right? It's me. It's three days in a junk yard. We've got three chambers here in this footlocker and here in chamber number, number 3 is where we're generating the smoke, okay? Right down here. And I didn't have a burner so I found this old iron and I just turned it on. And I've got a cat food can ... ow! .. that I've got some wood chips in, that I used a dowel and a pencil sharpener on ... oh, it's boring.
HARD WOOD CHIPS ONLY. NEVER USE SOFT WOODS LIKE PINE, SPRUCE OR CEDAR.
Anyway, the smoke's being generated there. And then, it's moving through a hole into chamber number 2.
Okay? And this is where the duct work is. And you see the smoke's coming in here and you can feel that. It's pretty gosh, darn warm. Heh. It
feels pretty good, actually. And as it winds its way up through here it cools down, okay, and it's nice and toasty in there. I wish I could get
in there. But it's cool up here which is important as the smoke goes into chamber number 1, which is the actual smoking chamber. And here it's
smoky, but it's completely cool. And you'll notice that the smoke is being pulled through by this little electric fan. I really ... this is my
favorite part. We harvested that off of ... and there I go with "we" again ... from this old computer. And I just hooked it up to a
battery. You can see the bacon is hanging and it's nice and cool in here so it can stay in here for hours. I like about 6 hours.
And, oh, here's a neat little touch. I've got a probe from a probe thermometer in here and I've got the alarm set for 80 degrees. I don't think it's going to get 80 degrees here, but if it ever did that would be moving out of what I think is really safe for a cold smoking range. So this would go off. Always good to play it safe.
So 6 hours and I'm going to change that wood down there—those little shavings—about every half hour or so. Now I don't suggest that you make a smoker out of, out of lockers. If you want to find a little bit more reasonable way, then drop by foodtv.com. Meanwhile I'm just going to sit here and try to get warm.
[coughs] Ahh. From belly to bacon in three easy steps. Now this stuff is ready to slice and cook right now. But you could also take it, wrap it in a little freezer paper and send it to the deep chill for up to a year. Pretty good investment of time. Of course even if I plan on cooking this stuff right away, I like to allow my bacon to have a little time just to chill. Why? Well, we're going to have to take a little road trip to find out.
Slicing a warm slab of bacon is a lot like giving a ferret a shave. No matter how careful you are, somebody's going to get hurt.
However, an hour in the freezer will firm up fat and lean alike rendering your bacon much more manageable come slicin' time.
You know, one of the things I like least about grocery store bacon is that they so often cut it so darn thin. Luckily, you don't have to make that same mistake. Now when you do your slicing you could do this with any kind of slicer or boning knife. But I really like this Granton edged slicer. You see it's got these kind of scallops cut out of the side which reduces drag on the fat and that's got to be a good thing. You notice that you're going to have a much easier time cutting this if you cut with the fattest section up because it's going to be the softest. That's going to leave the more solidified lean portion on the board.
Cooking bacon on your stove top is a losing proposition. Aside from leaving you with shriveled, nasty, little strips, clean up is pretty catastrophic. So I say whether you're dealing with homemade or store-bought, bake your bacon. Just lay out your slices on a rack over a lipped pan and slide it into a cold oven. Set the thermostat for 400 degrees. The slow heating will allow a lot of the fat to render out without burning the lean. Now once the oven hits temperature, check on the bacon every three minutes because once most of that fat is out, the bacon can burn very, very quickly. By the way if you like your bacon a little on the fatty side just go ahead and start it in a 400 degree oven but remember, check on it every three minutes.
OVEN: START COLD
UNTIL WORLD WAR II BACON FAT WAS AMERICA'S FAVORITE COOKING FAT
See: flat, straight and completely un-greasy. Oh speaking of the fat, bacon drippings are seriously good eats, even in small amounts.
If you want proof, fine. Take a radicchio and cut it into wedges so that you've got a little bit of
stem on each wedge. That'll hold them together. Toss them in just a little bit of the hot bacon dripping, just enough to coat, and then salt
and black pepper. Lay them out over a medium-hot charcoal grill and just grill each side for a few minutes, just long enough until you get a
little blackening around the edges. Oh, you don't have to cover it while it cooks, but if you do you can do cool things like this
[puts lid on]
Ah, folding time is always fun. Now just remove these still uncooked wedges to a plate. Then just cover them with a little bit of foil and let steam do the rest of the cooking. They'll be done in about 5 minutes.
And that's just enough time to put together a little bit of a vinaigrette. Bring together, oh, about a tablespoon of brown sugar along with a tablespoon of coarse grained mustard. Dissolve that in a quarter cup of cider vinegar.
AB: [to hand] Thank you.
Whisk to combine and then whisk in a quarter of a cup of extra virgin olive oil augmented with 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings. Going with all bacon drippings would be way, way, way, way too strong of a flavor. The nice thing about adding it to the extra virgin olive oil is no matter how cold it gets, the bacon drippings won't set up. Pretty cool, huh?
1 TBLS BROWN SUGAR
GUEST: Judge #2 (Judges 1 & 3 are CS and CB respectively)
FS: Now's the time to settle the score in this week's Scrap Iron Chef.
A2: It looks like contestant Brown is already working the judges.
AB: ... bacon-mustard-vinaigrette there. And you know what? If you want something really delicious, crumble some of that bacon right on top. You guys enjoy.
FS: So, judges, what say ye?
CS: [with a dub over a la Iron Chef] Mmm. This bacon is exquisite. I'm very surprised by the flavor of this leafy red stuff. On the other hand, Chef Midwestern's belly stew is disgusting.
JUDGE #2: Yes. I am very vegetarian but this bacon is delectable. The dish prepared by Chef Midwestern is wretched.
CB: This sandwich is sublime. The balance of salty, smoky, sweet and crunchy reminds me of a Haiku. This other dish is crap.
FS: Well, have you made your decision?
CB: [hands FS a piece of paper]
FS: And the winner is, Chef Prairie! Heh, heh.
FS: Well that's all the time we have for this week. See you next week on Scrap Iron Chef.
A2: Once again, Scrap Iron Stadium has handed out a heaping helping of culinary justice and sent another challenger a packin'. See you next time on Scrap Iron Chef.
[walks away stunned]
Proof reading help from Sue Libretti
Last Edited on 08/27/2010