Learn to Cure Bacon and Make Sausage at Save On Meats’ Class for Beginners

Photo credit: Flickr user cookbookman17

Photo credit: Flickr user cookbookman17

The North American obsession with bacon rages on. Vancouver has Pig on the Street, a bacon-focused food truck; you can grab a bacon maple chocolate bar from Meat & Bread anytime you please. Warning: These are addictive and may increase your circumference. There is even such a thing as a “baconery.” Some have web cams so you can watch people eat bacon, even when you can’t have some yourself.

Personally, I like sausage. I was the minority at Beginner Bacon and Sausage 101 Class at Save On Meats this week. Six of us hung out in the butcher shop for three hours and learned how to cure bacon, roll and tie pancetta, and best of all, grind meat and stuff sausages.

Save On Meats Beginner Bacon and Sausage Class is 3 hours long and costs $85. This time and money will get you hands-on experience with every step of the process plus a lot of meat that you get to take home. I lugged two pounds of classic pork sausage, a pound of bacon, and a pound of pancetta to my humble abode. My husband seems to love me more than ever.

Bacon by Baconery

Bacon by Baconery

Instructor Elliott Hashimoto, Mark Brand Inc.’s corporate chef, sagely opens with the basics of meat curing safety. Once we all learned to mix a dry cure, we were set to work skinning Gelderman Farms pork belly. Apply the cure, add some time and “overhauling” (fancy talk for flipping the meat every other day) and making bacon is simple.

Hashimoto is full of helpful tips to improve upon the classic recipe. He recommends adding a dash of peaty Scotch on the fourth day of curing to mimic the effects of a pricy cold smoker. This is also the time to add maple syrup, if you’re so inclined.

My sausage made during Beginner Bacon and Sausage 101

My sausage made during Beginner Bacon and Sausage 101

When it comes to sausages, you never saw such amazing sausage making machinery. Each of us ground pork shoulder and pork butt using Save On’s industrial meat grinder. After seasoning the 70/30 meat-to-fat grind to my taste – hot and heavy on the smoked paprika – I grappled with a slippery hog casings, which Hashimoto loaded onto a weapon-grade sausage filler known as Big Red, a relic from the Al Deslauriers’ original butcher shop which opened in 1957.

Once I’d stuffed the grind into the casing – no easy feat -I struggled to twist my wayward coil of meat into uniform links. Hashimoto was there throughout to lend a hand.

I’ve fallen in love with a variety of brats, bocks, bangers, butifarra and saucisse all over Europe. I’m a devoted fan of Oyama on Granville Island. Now I get to make it all happen at home.

As for you bacon addicts, stop hogging all the pork belly. Oyama’s owner John Van Der Lieck  told me it’s got a great meat-to-fat ratio for sausage. He’s a fifth generation charcuterie craftsman. Europeans know what to use it for.

The next Beginner Bacon and Sausage classes take place at Save On (43 West Hastings, 604.569.3568) on April 3 and April 16. Note: This class would also make a great date – as a couple in my class attested – and an awesome hen do/stag-ette party. Email classes@saveonmeats.ca to book. 

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