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How to Make Bacon

How to Make Bacon

How to Make Bacon

Before I cured our first bacon I did a lot of research online. How to make bacon. If you Google that you’ll get how to cook bacon and recipes using bacon but not nearly as many links to how to MAKE bacon. I probably should have used “cure” instead of make. Susy at Chiot’s Run made bacon that looked incredible. “I can do that,” I thought. If I’m going to eat bacon I want it to be slab, salty but not too salty, and I want something a little different at times. Plain, quality bacon is excellent but homemade Maple Bourbon bacon – seriously. It’s one of life’s great pleasures.

You can use pork belly from a pig you raised, bought locally, or ordered from the butcher. When we’re in danger of running out of bacon I call a local slaughter house / butcher and put in my order. If they aren’t killing pigs at the time I’ll call a small market in Lincoln that has a great meat department. They’ll order pork belly, flank steak or most anything else out of the ordinary.

No matter which flavor(s) you make, flip the pork belly twice a day to make sure all of it soaks in the brine.


I don’t use Insta Cure (pink salt). Our bacon is stored in the freezer until we use it and/or smoked. Smoking heats it to a proper temperature. Do your research and make your own decisions.


Ask to have the rind (skin) removed. You can do it but there’s no extra to have it done for you and it will, at least in my case, be smoother. I didn’t think to ask a new-to-us butcher to remove the skin on last year’s pork belly. I’d looked up how to make bacon and found myself needing to find out how to remove the skin from a pork belly. I lost some of the meat. Live and learn.

If you over salt the bacon, soak it in cold water for a couple of hours. Drain, rinse, fry a small piece and be sure it’s okay. If not, soak, drain and try it again.

Taste the Blend

If you’re mixing something like maple syrup and bourbon, taste it before you put it on the pork belly. If you don’t like it as it is you probably won’t like it later when the bacon is finished.


This recipe is for Maple Bourbon bacon. I’m tucking some suggestions in, too.

Cracked Pepper Bacon

Crack the pepper when you’re ready to use it. After patting the pork belly dry, coat it with the salt and then the cracked pepper.

Maple Bacon

I think the most common flavored bacon is Maple. You may use maple syrup or maple sugar. I prefer to salt the bacon for a day or two before adding the maple. Drain the liquid that has been pulled from the pork belly, salt it again, and then pat in the maple sugar or pour in the maple syrup. The salt will pull more liquid from the pork belly to make more brine.

How to make bacon – did you know it’s this simple!?!

Chicken Marsala – Great with Upland Game Birds, too

Chicken Marsala – Great with Upland Game Birds, too

Chicken Marsala Recipe

When I mentioned to a friend that this week’s recipe is Chicken Marsala she said, “I thought you weren’t going to get complicated.” It sounds a little fancy, doesn’t it. This is a simple recipe. It takes a little time but it’s worth it. The Marsala is wine.

There are a few steps to Chicken Marsala but they’re more time-consuming than complicated. It’s worth the effort! Read the recipe a couple of times if you haven’t made it before. Then follow it step by step and you’ll catch yourself agreeing with me – this is simple. This works well with grouse, pheasant and other upland game birds.

If you’re cooking for a large group you can make this ahead of time. It will warm nicely in the oven. Great served over mashed potatoes or noodles, it’s a recipe most everyone will love.

Chicken Marsala, noodles, On The Fire

Homemade Italian Sausage Recipe

Homemade Italian Sausage Recipe

 Homemade Italian Sausage Recipe

When I look for recipes for sausage I find recipes using sausage, not making sausage. It took me quite some time to come up with our homemade Italian sausage recipe a few years ago. It takes trial and error, and we have to consider the freshness and quality of the herbs and spices we use.

I tucked this recipe away two years ago after we raised a couple of pigs out near the orchard. At that time I asked the butcher to grind our sausage meat for me. It came back in neat five pound packages ready to be seasoned. This year our pig was raised for us and went to a different slaughter house. I asked for our trimmings to be packaged and sent back to grind myself.

homemade italian sausage, recipe, Weston meat grinderThe trimmings had more fat on it than I wanted in our grind so a lot of it was trimmed away. I used the Weston meat grinder we bought when I shot the bear in September for a blend around 80% meat, 20% fat. Once the trimmings are ground it’s time to add seasonings. That’s all there is to it.

We have Italian sausages pan fried with onions and bell peppers during grilling weather. I love Italian sausage in spaghetti sauce, and at Gundy’s suggestion, in meatloaf. This recipe is mild enough that the sausage can also be used at breakfast.

Baked Beans Recipe – Traditional New England Saturday Night Supper

Baked Beans Recipe – Traditional New England Saturday Night Supper

Baked Beans Recipe

Baked beans were not my favorite Saturday night, or any night for that matter, supper. They’re as traditional as lobster bakes on the beach, clam chowder and moose tenderloin but that didn’t mean anything to me. Over the years I’ve tweaked the recipe, as you should do to make it suit your tastes, and now I love baked beans. Protein and iron rich, filling and satisfying, healthy fat from homegrown pork, and great for leftovers. What’s not to love!

baked beans, new england, recipe

Well…what’s not to love…”homemade” using baked beans from a can. I have nothing against them, some are delicious, but clearly they’re not homemade no matter what you do to them. It’s like melting butter, adding a little salt, pouring it into a bowl, and saying you made butter.

Bean Pot or Slow Cooker

baked beans

You can bake the beans in a traditional bean pot or your slow cooker. If the weather is bitterly cold I use the bean pot and keep the oven on to warm the kitchen. However, it’s easier to keep an eye on the beans using a slow cooker with a glass top so you can make sure they don’t dry out.

Warmed up baked beans for breakfast will hold you well to lunch time if you’re busy outdoors. They’re great in chili and refried beans.


Fish Chowder – From Lake to Bowl

Fish Chowder – From Lake to Bowl

Fish Chowder

A steaming bowl of fish chowder, a thick slice of homemade bread slathered with good butter, and a big spoon. That’s all I need to make a meal that leaves me wanting more even after I’m stuffed to the gills (you see what I did there?). Chowder isn’t just for seafood. You can use fresh water fish, and it’s especially good if you’re using fish you’ve just caught while ice fishing. I stick with white fish and skip any that are oily. If you’d prefer to use ocean fish I suggest haddock, cod or pollock. Good fresh-water choices are cusk, yellow and white perch, and bass.

fish chowder

Mixing it Up

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Rather than tell you how to make fish stock let’s use Hank Shaw’s recipe. He makes great stock and it’s so similar to my recipe there’s no need for me to duplicate it.

You can exchange the butter for salt pork or bacon. Cut it into half-inch cubes and saute to release some of the fat before you add the onions to the pan.

I grew up with chowder made from canned milk instead of heavy cream, and now I sometimes use half ‘n half if I don’t have heavy cream. All three are good but I prefer cream.

Some folks add 1/2 cup of chopped celery when they saute the onions.

Chowder stores well in the refrigerator. Refrigerate leftovers immediately without letting the chowder cool to room temperature because of the dairy and fish.

This looks great served in bread bowls. Traditionally, it’s served with Saltines or Oyster crackers.






Breakfast Frittata with Sausage and Cheese

Breakfast Frittata with Sausage and Cheese

Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Frittata

Our “kids” are grown so Christmas morning is quiet at our house. This year Steve is working “weekend duty” at work so he’ll be out to morning meeting and make sure everything’s alright. While he’s gone I’ll make our breakfast. We traditionally have a hot breakfast, not too big, that holds us over until we have dinner in the early afternoon. This year I’m making a favorite, sausage and cheese breakfast frittata. I’ll give you a couple of ideas to make this a brunch frittata or even a breakfast-for-supper fritta, too.

breakfast frittata, fritatta, frittata recipeIt’s easy to change up the breakfast frittata. Add a teaspoon of red pepper flakes for a bit of heat. Fresh or granulated garlic changes the flavor slightly. When using fresh mushrooms, saute them first to remove excess moisture. Add leftover vegetables such as asparagus (there’s never leftover asparagus at my house) or broccoli.

For a buffet, remove the breakfast frittata from the oven in time to let it cool for five to ten minutes, then slice. Or, serve it cold. This dish travels well for potlucks because it can be served hot or cold. I’ve learned that when served cold, guests are more likely to add this to their plates if the pieces are small. Instead of cutting the frittata into eight pieces, try 12 or even 16.


Apple Cider Pulled Pork

Apple Cider Pulled Pork

Apple Cider Pulled Pork

Pigs love cleaning up the ground in an apple orchard. It seems fitting to simmer and serve pork and apple cider together. This is one of my favorite autumn meals, and it carries easily into winter. Busy with a day of hunting, stacking firewood, raking leaves, ice fishing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling or shoveling the driveway after a storm? Whatever it is that’s keeping you busy on these chilly days, Apple Cider Pulled Pork is the answer to “What’s for dinner?” It takes about 30 minutes total to prepare and then takes care of itself the rest of the day.

Vinegar in pulled pork doesn’t sound quite right but don’t skip this ingredient. It will help break down the pork so that it shreds well.

You can change up the recipe by adding shredded carrots, chives or green onions, or chunks of apple in the last hour of simmering.

A toasted sourdough roll is a great way to serve this pulled pork. The sauce isn’t as thick as a barbecue sauce so it needs a sturdy bread, or you’ll probably want to drain some of the cider before serving. Or, keep the cider sauce and eat this sandwich with a fork.

Sauerkraut, baked beans or coleslaw are great sides with apple cider pulled pork. Gundy, my co-host at On The Fire, didn’t have a slice of bread in the house. He cooked a fast-cooking rice in the unthicked sauce and serve the apple cider pulled pork over the rice. I can’t wait to try this!

Chicken Brown Rice (Grouse) and Vegetables

Chicken Brown Rice (Grouse) and Vegetables

Chicken Brown Rice (or Grouse)

Working full time, running a homestead that produces most of our food, hunting season and home renovations make for exhausting days. Having a simple one-pot meal like Chicken Brown Rice that requires very little preparation time is a life saver some days.

This recipe works well with chicken, grouse, turkey, woodcock and other upland game birds. I used to make this with duck but have decided I like duck prepared in other ways much better. If you use duck be sure to add it at the very end of the cooking time so that it doesn’t over cook. Duck should be rare or at the most, medium-rare.

Start with a 12″ pan that’s 3″ tall and oven safe. You’ll begin cooking on the stove top and then transfer the pan to the oven. Chicken Brown Rice starts simmer and ends with baking.
Carrots are my favorite vegetable to use in Chicken Brown Rice but others work just as well. Turnip or rutabaga are great root veggies you can use but I suggest avoiding beets because the discoloration of the rice is unappealing. If you choose a softer vegetable such as winter squash you need to cut them into large pieces so they don’t over cook. Brussels sprouts work well but broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are too soft even in large pieces.