BRINGING HOME THE BACON by Luke Clayton

Discussion in 'LUKE CLAYTON' started by Luke Clayton, Oct 1, 2007.

  1. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

    Messages:
    831
    State:
    Texas
    BRINGING HOME THE BACON

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    Luke Clayton


    I much prefer wild game to domestic meats IF the game animal was properly handled in the field and processed correctly. I’ve found that the majority of my hunting and fishing buddies and their families enjoy meals prepared from venison, wild pork, quail or dove when we are at the deer lease or simply enjoying a backyard BBQ. Venison backstrap, when stuffed with a slice of jalapeno, wrapped in bacon and grilled over hot mesquite or hickory coals, is a meal fit for a king. With archery deer season now open and rifle season only a month or so away and quail, pheasant, duck and goose season coming soon, it’s time to plan those menus for upcoming hunting camps.

    Early last week, I joined a couple of buddies in quest of some fresh pork. My plan was to harvest a good eating hog and try a new recipe for making cured, smoked bacon at home. Our hunt went well and we returned home with a couple coolers full of quality pork.

    I remember my dad ‘curing’ pork at home when I was a youngster growing up in northeast Texas. I’m not sure of the exact cure he used but can remember his homemade bacon had both a sweet and salty flavor. After a little research, I learned that dry cures contain three basic ingredients: salt, sugar and sodium nitrate. Some cures contain brown sugar and others maple sugar to enhance the flavor of the bacon.

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    Photo by Luke Clayton


    For years, I have enjoyed making sausage and jerky from game and a few weeks ago, I was thumbing through the pages of the Allied Kenco Sales catalog, deciding which seasonings I would need this year for link and breakfast sausage. I discovered a product called Buckboard Bacon Cure and my interest was instantly sparked. I read that settlers often cured and smoked the prime cuts of pork for bacon, rather than the more fatty cuts that we call bacon today. I love the flavor of bacon but shy away from eating it often because of the fat content. This idea of making bacon at home from lean cuts of meat appealed to me.

    I finished making my ‘test’ batch of bacon yesterday and was more than pleased with the finished product. Had I known just how easy curing bacon at home really is, I would have been doing it years ago. The instructions suggest you use cuts no thicker than 3.5 inches, which take 10 days to cure. I sliced mine into 2 inch slabs, using cuts from the ham and shoulder. The dry cure is simply rubbed on the meat thoroughly; the meat is then covered with plastic wrap and placed in a refrigerator, set to keep the temperature between 40-45 degrees. The rate of penetration of the cure is one-quarter inch, per side, per day. On both sides, this equates to a half inch per day. Using this formula, my 2 inch slabs of lean pork were cured in 4 days. Next, my smoker was heated to 170 degrees and I piled on some green hickory wood to create lots of smoke.

    After smoking the bacon at this low temperature, I used a meat thermometer to determine the bacon slabs had indeed heated to the proper temperature of 170 degrees. The finished product was golden brown and on the outside, looked just like ‘store bought’ bacon. When I began slicing into the finished product, I found the cured/smoked meat to look, and taste much like quality ham. After all, I used the ham from one of the hogs for much of my ‘bacon’, rather than using the more fatty sides of pork which is used for making commercial bacon.

    This bacon from very lean meat has to be fried in a little cooking oil or, if prepared at home, microwaved until it sizzles. After smoking, I wrapped each piece of bacon in heavy duty aluminum foil, places the pieces in freezer bags and put them back in the refrigerator. To my way of thinking, a few more days for the ‘cure’ to work it's magic won’t hurt a thing. After a couple more days in the refrigerator, I plan to put my bacon slabs in the freezer and enjoy them at hunting camps in upcoming months.

    To learn more about curing meat at home, go online to www.alliedkenco.com.

    NIGHT FISHING IN HIGH GEAR:

    Guide Jason Barber (903-887-7896) reported the night bite for white bass and hybrid stripers is underway at Cedar Creek. Barber says this annual fall bite ‘under the lights’ works on any lake with docks and floodlights. The trick to catching fish on your favorite lake is targeting docks with floodlights and keeping the boat in the shadows to avoid spooking fish. Barber likes to position his boat near the end of the dock and make long casts, slowing baits down when they move from the shadows into the lighted area. “The trick to catching multiple species is using baits around 3 inches in length that mimic shad. Soft plastic shad imitations on a light jig head work well but shallow running crankbaits will also trigger strikes. Keep baits in the to 2 feet of the water column and you’ll catch more fish.” Says Barber.

    CATFISHING AWESOME:

    Reports of large catches of catfish have been pouring in from many area lakes. Guide Bobby Kubin (817-455-2894), at Lake Lewisville, says Danny Kings Catfish Punchbait fished in water 12-20 deep has been producing limits of channel catfish in the 2-3 pound range with an occasional larger fish. Windy banks are good spots to target, especially those with birds nearby feeding on baitfish, but mid to lower lake humps are also holding fish. Kubin suggests keeping baits on the windward side of the submerged humps and ledges by anchoring upwind of the structures and casting behind the boat. Lake Brownwood and Proctor are a couple of excellent choices for stocking the freezer with catfish fillets. Of course, Fork, Tawakoni and Cedar Creek are great catfish destinations as well.

    Catch Luke's Weekly Radio Show at www.catfishradio.com
     
  2. splitshot

    splitshot New Member

    Messages:
    2,827
    State:
    Coxsakie,N.Y.
    Thanks luke!! Have you got any recipies for wild turkey??
     

  3. Cattledogz

    Cattledogz New Member

    Messages:
    1,374
    State:
    NC
    I really enjoyed this article! Already ordered some of the bacon cure and waiting on it to get here.

    Thanks Luke.
     
  4. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

    Messages:
    831
    State:
    Texas
    You know, a lot of guys I turkey hunt with use only the breast.. I take the legs/thighs and slow boil them for an hour or so then remove the meat from the many ligaments in the legs. This makes one heck of a tasty soup when mixed with carrots, sweet peas, onion and rice.. I usually add a little butter to it for flavoring. It's might good soup!

    Wild turkey breast meat is excellent when chicken fried, or... make bacon wraps from it with jalapeno pepper... smoke it for about thirty minutes and it's very tasty... Good hunting AND eating! luke clayton
     
  5. BAM

    BAM New Member

    Messages:
    827
    State:
    Tennessee
    Thanks for the article Luke.