True to my plan, I made bear bacon last week. It didn't go so well. I searched Homer high and low for curing salt and finally found some at the local butcher. What a great resource, that place is! While picking up my wee bag of salt, I had a great chat with the in-house butcher who gave me a few great pointers on bear bacon.
Unfortunately for me, I failed to ask a critical question about my wee bag of salt: at the end of the curing time, do you soak the bacon or rinse the bacon? I rinsed like my recipe instructed. I should have soaked. I really should have soaked.
After an appropriate time on the smoker and a bit of lovin' in the oven to get it up above 160 degrees, we gave it a taste. It was good but it was salty. Really really salty.
Hunter says my bear bacon is "certainly edible".... I was gunning for something a little more delicious than "certainly edible". Anyway, he's an unreliable source - if I keep cooking, he gets to keep hunting and he's pretty passionate about hunting. Poor guy, he probably never thought he'd have to choke back 5 pounds of chewy, salty bear in order to keep his wife content with all the time and money he spends on his hobby. No wonder he hasn't mentioned caribou hunting this week. Bet he's rethinking that one.
For the past week, Hunter's been using my bear bacon to salt to all of his meals. I might do the guy a favour and make bear bacon bits - can't go wrong with bacon bits! Can you?
So, I'm on to the next adventure: sausage. After this weekend's company leaves, I think I'll get on that project. Youtube has a great wealth of information about how to stuff sausage. I've been studying. Fortunately for me, the ingredients for sausage are easy to find in Homer and the instructions seem pretty straightforward. I feel a bit more confident in my ability to create a sausage that's beyond "certainly edible."
I went to the Double Musky in Girdwood for dinner a couple of weekends back. As usual, it was pretty amazing. I had their gumbo and it reminded me of just how much I love gumbo. So, there's the plan: Alaskatarian seafood gumbo with bear andouille, Alaskan crab and shrimp. THAT recipe screams for a party and that's what I plan to do. Provided the sausage works out.