I earned a trowel of my own for all my work in this. So... tired...
However, finishing up stone work was not the end of my evening. Yesterday, I acquired half a pork belly from a lovely butcher in Hoover, but I had a difficult time finding pink salt to cure it with. I ended up using celery salt instead, which has plenty of nitrates in it that convert to sodium nitrite - which was exactly what I needed to keep the pork belly nice and pink, not to mention botulism-free.
It took a while to break down, because this is the first time I've had to skin a pork belly. I consulted my friend George, whose PhD is in Food Science, for advice on a rapid cure, since it's already Wednesday evening and the bacon's going on to smoke on Saturday.
Vegetarians, I don't know how you do it.
After a bit of chat, I decided to do skin-off and smaller chunks for maximum absorption. A 6.8 pound pork belly yielded a bunch of skin, plus two separate portions. Having my own silly sense of humor, the 2.2 pound batch that I added maple syrup and brown sugar to was named "Bobby", while the 2.3 pound batch has salt, garlic powder, and black pepper, and is named "Petrino".
I also bagged up the skin, which I'm going to use to make cracklins. After a little research, I've decided to use the oven-and-fry technique posted here. Whether or not they'll be snacks for the party or if they'll be our Friday night noms has yet to be seen.
Bobby, Petrino, and Wilbur's Skin. A pork belly destined for MY belly.
For the record, Bobby got 1c maple syrup, about 1c brown sugar (1.5c loose pack), 3/4 c kosher salt, and 1 oz celery salt for about 2.2 pounds of belly meat. Petrino got 1 oz celery salt, 3/4c kosher salt, 1/4c garlic powder, and 1/4c black pepper for around 2.3 pounds. I'm really interested to see how it turns out. I've never made my own bacon before, and I don't know anyone else who has, either.
More updates to come on Saturday!