JP McMahon: We should give a rashers about bacon

Ireland, once king of the rashers, is now filled with cafes serving pre-cooked, rubbery bacon

Wouldn’t it be nice one day to actually enter a cafe and smell streaky rashers on the grill? Photograph: Getty Images

Wouldn’t it be nice one day to actually enter a cafe and smell streaky rashers on the grill? Photograph: Getty Images

 

Whoever invented pre-cooked bacon has a lot to answer for. You know the kind I’m talking about. It’s now ubiquitous in nearly every cafe in Ireland.

Passing through Dublin Airport recently, every sandwich and salad was packed to the brim with this anaemic dried-up replica.

But who’s to blame? The cafes for wanting convenience? The consumers for not caring? The health inspectors for not wanting raw products in small kitchens? The absence of proper food handlers and chefs? The manufacturers for making the product in the first place?

Who knows, perhaps a little bit of all. But wouldn’t it be nice one day to actually enter a cafe and smell streaky rashers on the grill? To have your mouth water instantly when the umami from that rasher wraps itself around your senses, as opposed to the cold harsh ding of the microwave. You’re rubber bacon is ready, sir!

Ireland was once king of the rashers around the world but that all stopped with cheap pork imports. Remember when Limerick was Pigtown? Why don’t we mind our pigs the way we mind our cows? I’m sure my grandfathers would turn in their grave if they knew the injustice now being done to rashers all around the country these days.

Celebrate the rasher

Limerick is a place worth returning to if you want to celebrate the rasher (or any bit of pig for that matter), as they begin to celebrate one of the essential qualities of their city again. 

Making your own streaky bacon is easy. Go and get a good slab of pork belly. Ask your butcher to bone it and skin it. Mix equal parts of salt and sugar with some fresh thyme and juniper. Blend lightly in a food processor. Liberally sprinkle the top and bottom belly with the curing mix making sure you leave no area uncovered (I use 70g of curing mix per kilo of belly).

Place on a tray in your fridge for five days. Turn every day. On day five, rinse the belly of all the curing mix and place back in fridge. I like to freeze it for 30 mins before slicing as it’s easier to get super thin slices.

As for the ready-cooked rubbery bacon, stop buying it. Stop using it. Stop producing it. Or I’ll send Francie Brady after you. 

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