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Homemade Bacon - (Makes 4 lbs.)



4 lbs boneless pork belly cut into 1 lb. pieces

4 cups kosher salt

3 1/4 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

3/4 teaspoon curing salt



1.  Pat the pork belly with paper towels to remove excess moisture.


2.  Combine the salt, sugar, and curing salt in a bowl.  Place the pork in a baking pan or a large plastic container; cover the top of the pork with a layer of the salt mixture, then flip it over and bury the meat in the remaining mixture.


3.  Refrigerate the pork, covered, for 10 days.  This will "cure" the belly, and you will have what's known as salt pork or unsmoked bacon.


4.  Remove the pork from the salt and rinse under cold water; pat dry with paper towels.  Place pork on a glazing rack (or on cake racks set on baking sheets) and refrigerate overnight to air dry.


5.  Smoke the pork at 140 degrees F for 1 hour.  The bacon can now be held in the refrigerator or frozen.



Cajun Tasso - (Makes 5 lbs.)


Brine Ingredients:

1 1/2 gallons water

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup kosher salt

5 garlic cloves

2 tablespoons allspice berries

2 tablespoons juniper berries

5 star anise pods

4 tablespoons black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon curing salt

1 bunch thyme

1 bunch sage leaves

7 to 8 lb. boneless pork butt, cut into 5 by 2-inch slices



Tasso Spice Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups paprika

1/2 cup chili powder

3 tablespoons cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons ground white pepper

2 tablespoons red pepper flakes

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons table salt

1/4 cup dried oregano

2 tablespoons garlic powder



1.  Combine the brine ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil over high-heat, then cool to room temperature.  (To cool the brine quickly, set the pot into a large bowl or sink full of ice water.)


2.  When the brine has cooled, transfer it to an extra-large resealable plastic bag or a large bowl.  Add the pork and seal the bag or cover the bowl, making sure the pork is submerged.  Refrigerate for 2 days.


3.  Remove the pork slices from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.  Stir together the tasso spices in a large bowl.  Add the pork and toss until the meat is evenly coated.  Put the seasoned pork pieces on a glazing (or cake) rack and let them air-dry at room temperature for 1 day.


4.  Smoke at 220 degrees F. for 1 hour, until the tasso is firm to the touch and the inside temperature is 160 degrees F.  (For a dryer or more traditional tasso, coat the meat with spices and cure n a rack in a refrigerator for 3 days.



Boudin - (Makes 4 lbs.)



2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 lb. pork liver, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 small onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 medium poblano chile, stemmed, seeded, & chopped

3medium jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded, & chopped

6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

4 tablespoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon ground white pepper

1/2 teaspoon curing salt

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon chili powder

7 cups cooked white rice

1 cup parsley, chopped

1 cup scallions (green & white parts)

4 to 6 feet of sausage casings (optional), rinsed



1.  Combine the pork, liver, vegetables, and seasonings in a bowl and marinate for 1 hour or overnight, covered, in the refrigerator.  Place the marinated mixture in a large pot and cover the meat with water (by 1 to 2 inches).  Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the meat is tender, about 1 hour and 45 minutes.


2.  Remove the pot from the heat and strain, reserving the liquid.  Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then put the solids through a meat grinder set on coarse grind.  (You can also chop with a knife if you don't have a meat grinder.)


3.  Place the ground meat in a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, mix in the cooked rice, parsley, scallions, and the reserved cooking liquid.  Stir vigorously for 5 minutes.  When the boudin-rice mixture is first combined, it looks very wet and it's pretty spicy.  Don't worry; after poaching, the rice absorbs the excess moisture and much or he spice.  The wet texture and extra spice ensure that your final boudin will be moist and full of flavor.


4.  At this point you can feed the sausage into the casings.  Poach the links gently in hot (not bubbling) water for 10 minutes, then serve.  Alternatively, you can use the mixture as a stuffing for chicken, or roll it into "boudin balls," dredge in bread crumbs, and fry in hot oil until golden brown.



Smoked Sausage & Lima Bean Stew - (Serves 4)



2 tablespoons olive oil

6 oz. mild smoked sausage, cut into 3/4 inch cubes

1 small onion, thinly sliced

1 celery stalk, diced

1 small carrot, diced

1 medium turnip, diced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 cups water or chicken stock

2 cups shelled fresh (or frozen) lima beans



1.  Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat.  Add the sausage and cook, stirring for 2 minutes, until lightly browned, then add the onion, celery, carrot, turnip, salt, and pepper then cook for another 5 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.


2.  Add the water and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the lima beans and simmer for another 15 minutes, until the lima beans are tender.  Taste the stew and adjust seasonings as desired.



Sausage Stuffed Chicken Thighs - (Serves 4)



8 boneless skin-on chicken thighs

Salt & ground black pepper

5 tablespoons olive oil

8 sage leaves

1 lemon, very thinly sliced

1/2 lb. simple pork sausage, or other pork sausage



1.  Lay the boneless thighs skin side down on a cutting board and cover with plastic wrap.  Evenly pound each piece with a smooth side of a mallet or rolling pin, working from the center of the thigh outward.  Transfer the thighs to a baking dish, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil (use your fingers to coat each piece evenly).  Top each thigh with a sage leaf and a slice of lemon, and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or overnight.


2.  When you're ready to stuff the thighs, discard the lemon and sage and place 1 to 2 tablespoons of sausage in a strip down the middle of each thigh.  (resist the impulse to overload the chicken because you'll want to roll the meat neatly around the filling.)  Wrap the chicken snugly around the filling, and secure with two toothpicks.


3.  When you're ready to cook, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.


4.  Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, but not smoking.  Add the chicken skin side down, and sear for 5 to 10 minutes, turning the bundles as necessary to brown on all sides.  Transfer the thighs to a baking sheet, then roast in the oven for 15 minutes, until they feel firm when squeezed gently.


5.  Transfer the stuffed thighs to a cutting board or plate to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes to allow the juices to settle.  Remove toothpicks, slice each into 1/2 to 1 inch thick slices and serve.

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