American Lamb Bacon
10 Whole star anise
4 Cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup Whole fennel seeds
1/2 cup Whole black peppercorns
1/4 cup Whole allspice berries
3 pounds Kosher salt
1 pound Brown sugar
1 bunch Fresh thyme, rough chopped
1/2 bunch Fresh rosemary, rough chopped
1/2 ounce Tinted curing mix
1/2 ounce Hickory smoke powder (or liquid smoke)
1 American Lamb belly
Olive oil as needed
In a sauté pan over medium heat, combine star anise, cinnamon, fennel, peppercorns and allspice. Toss spices gently over heat for about 5 minutes to draw out essential oils. Remove spices from pan; put into a spice grinder and pulse. In a large bowl, combine salt, sugar, thyme, rosemary and curing mix. Add fennel seed mixture and hickory smoke powder (or liquid smoke); mix well to evenly distribute the ingredients.
Place a 3-foot x 3-foot square of cheesecloth over a perforated rack or pan set over a closed hotel pan. Sprinkle 1/2 of the cure on the cheesecloth; top with lamb belly, fat side down. Spread remaining cure evenly over top of the belly, coating sides as well. Fold cheesecloth over the top; refrigerate lamb for 48 hours.
Remove belly from cure mix; rinse gently under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels; re-wrap belly in cheesecloth. Hang belly in a cold environment to dry, until ready to use.
Slice a 3-ounce portion of lamb belly per serving. Rub slice(s) with a little olive oil; grill for about 2 minutes per side. Allow cooked bacon to rest before eating.
Note: The belly is ready to be cooked and eaten after the curing process; the drying helps intensify the flavor and texture of the final product. This should be made a few days before cooking. It can be wrapped tightly and held for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator and 4 months in the freezer.