Ask Scots people living abroad what they miss most about Scotland and somewhere near the top of every list is always Ayrshire Bacon. I’ve seen grown men humbled almost in tears while reminiscing about a bacon sarnie, its robust salty flavour mixed with a spot of H.P. is what Macgastronomic dreams are made off. I’m told that bacon smuggling from Scotland rivals that of the heroin trade.
Ayrshire bacon is made by the wet cure method much the same as Wiltshire Bacon a cure developed in the 1840s, the main difference being the specially fed somewhat fatter Scottish Large White pigs are completely boned before being immersed in the cure. While we can’t get Scottish pigs here we are fortunate that Ontario pork is among the finest in the world. I use boneless pork loin. In Scotland, there are still several large and small companies (Ramsay’s of Carluke being the best known) making
bacon in the traditional manner as opposed to phosphate injected mass produced rubbish.
I was fortunate while working as a chef at The Baillie Nicol Jarvie Hotel Aberfoyle to meet an old butcher who taught me how to make bacon. It is very difficult to blend the ingredients in small quantity so I strongly recommend using one of the cures sold by Windsor or Morton’s Salt companies. They will give you reasonable results and you can adjust to taste next time. I have deliberately left out quantities for this reason.
- Either Kosher or Pickling salt
- Brown sugar
- Sodium Nitrite
- Potassium Nitrate
- Previously boiled water
- Pork Loin
- Single Malt Whisky
Assemble all the ingredients and pour the whisky into a glass (preferably Edinburgh Crystal). Take a large swig to make sure it hasn’t gone bad.
Mix all the ingredients except the whiskey in a bowl then add to the water which has been boiled then cooled and is now in a plastic or ceramic container. Mix well being careful not to spill the whiskey. Sip the whiskey to make sure you didn’t get any of the mix in it Set the cure to one side, now thoroughly wash your pork loin and pat dry. Take a sip of whiskey
In Scotland, they tend to leave about a half inch of fat but June forces me to trim it well, she does have other great qualities to compensate.
While I’m at it I usually cut off a small roast and a few chops for myself. Take a sip of the whiskey
Lay the pork into the brine and weigh down with a plate or two to make sure it is submerged. Take a sip of whiskey Place the container in the fridge. If the whiskey has evaporated pour another.
By this time I’m usually so hungry I could eat the pork raw but we have to leave it for two to two and a half days.
I like to turn it every twelve hours but that does not have to be exact. Try explaining that you got up at 3 a.m. to turn your bacon! At this time I usually sing a chorus or two of “Flower of Scotland” or depending
on the quantity of whiskey in the recipe perhaps “Ah Belong tae Glesga.”
I could murder a fish supper.
After the appointed time and when the bacon is an even colour of red throughout wash the excess brine off with fresh water pat it dry. Don’t butter your bread and turn on the grill yet, you have to let it mature in
the fridge for 1 to 2 weeks. I then usually like to freeze the bacon for an hour or two to make it easier to slice.
If you use low carb bread to make the sannies you’re allowed to eat as many as you want without guilt.
As a point of interest should you want to make French-style bacon just substitute red wine for the whisky?
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