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  • Claudia Romeo: Depending on where you are in the world,

  • you will find a different version of bacon.

  • In the US, you'll have a savory piece of pork belly

  • that's been cured and smoked.

  • As an Italian, my go-to bacon is pancetta,

  • dry-cured dices of pork belly.

  • Here in England, your bacon will be a leaner,

  • but still juicy cut of meat

  • from the back of the pig

  • cured to perfection.

  • Today, we're in South Cerney, Gloucestershire,

  • and we are at The Butts Farm,

  • a farm that specializes in rare breeds.

  • What we're going to see today

  • is bacon made from Gloucestershire Old Spots.

  • They're one of the oldest breeds here in the UK,

  • and they're renowned for having a tender, marbled meat.

  • So what better way to taste it than in the form of bacon?

  • Thank you.

  • Hello, friend.

  • Compared to more commercial pigs

  • that feed on high protein and cereal,

  • an Old Spot follows a low-protein diet,

  • complemented with grass, worms,

  • and whatever they can munch away at here at the farm.

  • The Gloucestershire Old Spots

  • also have a lot of fat on them naturally.

  • That's good.

  • You don't have to eat the fat, but when you cook it,

  • you've got the fat running through the meat,

  • which gives you the flavor. Claudia: All right.

  • Carl: This is what we're gonna be working with.

  • Claudia: Yep.

  • This section is cut

  • from the top of the leg to the fourth rib

  • and, on the other side,

  • the first flat bone across the thigh and the leg.

  • Carl pierces the skin a few times to allow the salt

  • to get right into the center of the bacon.

  • He tells me that the best bacon is one that is cured

  • within the first week after slaughtering the pig.

  • This is to avoid tough skin,

  • which the curing would make even tougher

  • and would take all the moisture out of the meat.

  • Drawing most of the moisture out is, however,

  • our way to go with our dry cure today.

  • Carl uses fine sea salt, which he prefers

  • as it gets right into the meat

  • much quicker than coarse salt.

  • Carl: So you want to get all the cure mix into the center.

  • With it not having the nitrates in,

  • it does take that little bit longer to cure.

  • You want the salt to have contact first,

  • 'cause that will just give you the right way to cure.

  • Claudia: Oh, wow, that's quite a lot of salt.

  • Carl: It is. So. [Claudia chuckles]

  • Claudia: So, how many kilos is that?

  • Carl: That's 5.

  • For this much, you'd probably only need 2,

  • 2 1/2 kilos of salt.

  • But it cures better if you just

  • get that caked in salt. Claudia: All right.

  • Carl: It doesn't really absorb more of it.

  • It just seals.

  • Just get nice and covered.

  • So, that provides the base of the cure.

  • So that will instantly start drawing out the moisture,

  • changing that product from pork into the bacon product.

  • Claudia: Carl leaves a little bit of salt

  • for later in the curing process.

  • After a few days, the meat will be repacked with salt

  • to drain the excess moisture that has come out.

  • The next ingredient to be added is unrefined brown sugar.

  • Just like salt, sugar will draw out moisture,

  • but it will also add a light sweetness to the meat

  • and get rid of the sharpness of the salt.

  • Just like salt, a bit of sugar is saved for later.

  • The cure continues with pink and black peppercorns,

  • bay leaves, and juniper berries.

  • The berries will bring lightness and sweetness

  • with the sugar to the edge of the bacon.

  • Carl: And lots of color, which is good.

  • It'd be nice to have a big pestle and mortar.

  • Claudia: Yeah. So you're just gonna crush them like this?

  • Carl: Yes, gently. Just to get some of the powder

  • out of the peppercorns.

  • Claudia: Oh.

  • Carl: And the juniper berries are still,

  • they're still slightly wet, 'cause they're a berry.

  • As we break them, there's just a little moisture still.

  • It's a little bit like making your gin

  • and having the botanicals.

  • [Claudia laughs] It is like that,

  • you can pick savory and strong flavors in your botanicals.

  • I've seen people do rosemary bacon and things like that.

  • Claudia: Oh! Mm.

  • Carl: Just trying to infuse different flavors in.

  • Claudia: Yeah, you can just personalize it,

  • just a little bit. Carl: I think so. I mean,

  • yeah, I wouldn't want to see people experiment too --

  • Claudia: Too much.

  • Carl: Well, it's up to them, I guess, if --

  • but yeah, bay leaves act almost like

  • it's that stability for the flavor.

  • So you just give them a little bit of a crush,

  • because they're fresh. Claudia: Wow.

  • Yeah, they're a very nice green.

  • Carl: They're not like the dry ones.

  • You just give those a little rip.

  • Nice having them grown Claudia: Ooh, nice smell.

  • Carl: in the garden by one of our ladies in the office.

  • I asked her for some bay leaves,

  • she brought me half of her tree.

  • So this is very good. [Claudia laughs]

  • Claudia: That looks fantastic already.

  • After 14 days and after removing the bones,

  • this is the end result of our curing process.

  • Carl: So, you've got the back bacon.

  • And this is where it went from the shoulder.

  • That's where we came in from the leg.

  • So, we generally take the back bacon off

  • with a little tail.

  • So a small amount of the streaky remains

  • on the back bacon. Claudia: Yeah.

  • Carl: Just because that's the shape we normally use.

  • Plus it gives that little bit of fat

  • to cook with. Claudia: Yeah, for sure.

  • Carl: So you just separate that.

  • Down like that.

  • And that will give you your streaky

  • in your back bacon.

  • Claudia: Ooh.

  • Butchers refer to dry-cured, unsmoked bacon

  • like this here as green bacon or green bac.

  • This is nothing scary, and it's completely natural.

  • It's just the salt slightly overcuring

  • the edges of the bacon.

  • A little trim, and our Gloucestershire Old Spots bacon

  • is ready to be revealed.

  • Carl: If we then look at the center of the bacon,

  • that's when you've got that --

  • Claudia: Oh, nice.

  • Carl: Beautiful cure.

  • Nice flavor going through.

  • Claudia: There's a bit of marbling as well.

  • Carl: Yes. Well, you've got

  • the really nice native breeds.

  • And the finish is really good on Judy's pigs.

  • It just starts to build up

  • just a little bit of fat in the muscle,

  • which then for cooking makes it amazing.

  • Claudia: Wow. Yeah. Carl: Just like it would

  • a rib eye steak.

  • The fat will always disintegrate first,

  • because it reacts to heat and reduces.

  • So it just breaks the meat into parts,

  • so your bacon is then quite tender,

  • which is quite a nice way to do things.

  • Claudia: And so that's a speciality

  • of Gloucestershire Old Spots.

  • Carl: Yeah, yeah, definitely.

  • Claudia: 'Cause you can find that.

  • Carl: Yeah. Well, you get your pork chops

  • and there's not just fat on the outside,

  • you've got actually a nice bit of taste

  • and the flavor going through it, which is really good.

  • Claudia: Wow. OK.

  • Carl: So, yeah. So that's our

  • traditionally dry-cured nitrate-free bacon.

  • So, my first question is,

  • why did you put this in the oven

  • rather than frying it?

  • Judy: Well, because it's got so much

  • of its own lovely fat,

  • and we love fat around here.

  • We love food around here,