What do you do if someone just happens to give you a slab of pork belly? You make bacon of course! 

Last Friday evening 100 food bloggers were treated to  food demos and samplings at The Viking Cooking School in Atlanta. In one kitchen they made turkey pot stickers. On the showroom floor they were treated to a pasta making demo with a taste of basil pasta with wild mushroom ragout and a trio of desserts. In the store's second kitchen, local celebrity Chef Kevin Rathbun was serving up grilled bacon and watermelon skewers and pork belly tacos. I had the opportunity to assist Chef Rathbun and at the end of the evening, take home the bacon...well pork belly.

Chef Rathbun was all about the bacon. He shared his recipe for taking a piece of pork belly and transforming it into a beautiful piece of bacon. He had a piece of belly that he rubbed with the curing spices to demonstrate the simplicity of the process. It's really not difficult and if you have a refrigerator large enough to hang the pork belly for four to eight weeks then you are in business!

When the evening ended I was helping Chef Rathbun gather his materials and I asked him if he would like me to wrap the belly that he prepared up so that he could take it with him. He replied no that it would probably be forgotten in his car overnight so why didn't I take it. So take it I did! 

Here's Chef Rathbun's recipe for turning pork belly into bacon.

For a 2 pound skinless pork belly

28 grams kosher salt
2   grams Instacure salt (pink)
25 grams red wine
5   grams white peppercorns
5   grams green peppercorns
5   grams black peppercorns, toasted and crushed
20 grams minced garlic
5   grams Szechuan peppercorns, toasted and crushed
5  grams chili flakes

Method of production for cure

1.  Weigh all ingredients careful, Be especially careful to weigh the pink salt.
2.  Toast the white, green black, and Szechuan peppercorns until aromatic. Crush with pack of a pan to coarse consistency.
3.  Mix salt and Instacure pink salt. Combine cracked peppercorns with salt, minced garlic, red wine, and chili flakes. The final consistency should be a "slushy salt."
4. Rub the cure aggressively over all areas of the pork belly. Place in a non-reactive plastic container. Refrigerate.
5.  Refrigerate on the run for five days. Each day take the belly out of the container and pour off any excess liquid. Place the belly back inthe container on the opposite side that it was resting previously.
6. On the fifth day remove the belly from the rub, wipe off large chunks of garlic and pepper corns. Cover with cheesecloth and hang in a well ventilated refrigerated area (41 F or lower).
7.  Allow belly to hang for minimum of four weeks and as long as eight. Flavor will intensify as your patience allows it to do so. The belly should be firm to the touch when removed from hanging.

As I opened the container to turn the belly (I'm on day three of the process), the aromas just about knocked me down! Absolutely divine!  I'm looking forward to the hanging part to the process; however, I'm not sure that my second refrigerator will ever smell the same afterwards!

I'll post updates as the curing process goes forth.

Visit Chef Rathbun's web site for info on his restaurants and for several of his delicious recipes.