From Juice to Jowl

July 18, 2013

You’ve heard of ‘head-to-tail’ eating…

Every morning I make and drink juice. Not the O.J. sweet-as-sunshine brunch-y sort, but the kale-cucumber-apple-beet-parsley-mint sort (K.C.A.B.P.M.J.). Green juices are super trendy and juice drinkers are fanatics about the health benefits of its live enzymes, phytonutrients, antioxidants, biophotons and cornucopia of nutrients that increase the mirco-electric potential of the cells yada yada, but I just like it.

All this (plus bacon) for breakfast? Pourquoi pas?

Making juice uses all the junk from my garden that I don’t, can’t, or won’t use: the ugly carrots, the misshapen beets, the kale leaves that I have graciously shared with the flea beetles, the stems that don’t make it into my Caldo Verde.

When a garden is as ridiculously over-sized for your personal needs as mine is, and when you also belong to a CSA just for the fun of it, and when you also buy stuff at the Co-op or at Hawthorne Valley just because it looks yummy, then you should juice too.

The junk that doesn’t go into my dinner, goes into my juice the next morning.

Neighbor Kelli finds it disgusting but I think it’s perfecto!

Hands down the best all around juicer is the Omega Vert. It’s the single auger style and juices both fruits and vegetable equally well (wheat grass is a separate machine if you’re into it that deeply).

But even if you never buy a juicer yet pine for something mesmerizing to watch during the wee hours, check out John Kohler’s videos. Everything you ever wanted to know about juicers (including what to do if the thing gets completely stuck – the video I had to watch this morning!). Late night stuff!

Your biophoton count will increase just from watching this guy!

Juice provides the fuel to get on with the rest.

BUT, lest you think I have migrated over to the dark side, only caring for the vegetal things in life, after my juice, I eat bacon, bacon, and…


Sliced paper-thin and served raw, the pork jowl Guanciale I made earlier in the year is heavenly, but cut thick it fries up to be the naughtiest, most delicious ‘bacon’ you’ll ever have.

Guanciale rests and waits for the cook to get a hankering for it.

You can eat Guanciale raw just like this.

Or fry it up for something insanely naughty.

The jowl and the belly are completely two different piggy parts, each deliriously fatty.

But while I had my smoker going July 4th smoking up a healthy batch of ribs, ducks and chickens, I decided to try smoking up a pork belly and turning it into, yes, My Very Own Bacon.

I was inspired by the recipe from my friends at Putney Farm, who in-turn were inspired by the recipe at Ruhlman and his nasty-great book, Charcuterie.

You do not have to use a smoker, and finding a pork belly and making My Very Own Bacon is way easier than it sounds. Back in the days when Tom Colicchio was just a dude with a restaurant and my life revolved around finding some pork belly to make his recipe for fresh pork belly, the fatty slab was near impossible to find. But now, like green juice (or totally unlike green juice) pork belly is super-trendy so finding it at your local market isn’t as hard as it used to be.

A gorgeous, albeit modest slab of belly.


You will need to find a 5-pound pork belly (skin off) for this recipe. My pork belly was only about 3 pounds so I had to do some math – not my forte – to adjust the recipe for a smaller slab.


2 ounces (1/4 cup) kosher salt

2 teaspoons pink curing salt #1 (I cheated and didn’t use curing salt because, yeah, okay, I didn’t have any. I was warned that this is a terrible idea both for taste and safety reasons, so I will warn you too: USE PINK CURING SALT #1! For criminy sake! Please!)

4 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper

4 bay leaves, crumbled

1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/4 cup brown sugar or maple syrup

5 sprigs of garden herbs like fresh thyme (optional)

1. Combine the above ingredients in a small bowl.

2. Put your hunk of pork belly into a large Ziplock Baggie or a Food Saver bag. Toss in the salt mixture and rub around to coat the entire slab. Close or seal the bag loosely and let it rest in an out-of-the-way spot in the fridge for as little as 3 or as many as 7 days.

Even the bad stuff should get a dose of the good stuff.

It’s so QVC of me, but the FoodSaver IS my favorite kitchen tool!

3. After a few days, you’ll notice that your pork belly will begin to firm up. This is similar to the process of making your own Gravlax. When you (and it) are ready, take it out and rinse off the meat in cool water and pat it dry.

4. I smoked my bacon in my badass smoker, but if you don’t have a badass smoker, preheat the plain-old-oven to 200 degrees. Put the belly on a cookie sheet, push it into the plain-old-oven and leave it in there for at least 2 hours or until the internal temperature is 150 degrees. There’s a lot of wiggle room with fatty meats like this and leaving it for even 4 hours won’t kill it. I smoked mine for about 3 hours.

Busting out the badass smoker screams summer at The Muddy Kitchen.

Looks like ribs. Taste like…

5. Let it cool in the fridge overnight then fry some up in the morning. After your green juice!


Hey, isn’t Rose a vegetarian?

Take your boots off before you come in here!


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Auntie Jane

Oh my. One of these days I wil try green juice but…….that bacon. Too fattening. Cholesterol full deliciousness.. Oh my. My sister must be gagging.


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