Chris Miracolo of Max's Harvest Makes Us Some Bacon

Categories: Food News
Welcome to the How-To series, a periodic segment of photo essays that highlight the dishes and drinks that area restaurants do well, who makes them, and how they do it. This week, writer Sara Ventiera learns how to make bacon.
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Trimming fat
Since opening last summer, executive chef Chris Miracolo of Max's Harvest has been gaining notoriety in the farm-to-table movement of South Florida. In keeping with a focus of local, sustainable foods, he and his staff make everything in-house. 

Well, almost everything. According to Miracolo, "The only thing we don't make in-house is ketchup. You can't keep up with Heinz." Miracolo is known for his work with pork: homemade tasso, pancetta, pork belly, and its most ubiquitous form, bacon. Here is Miracolo's take on do-it-yourself bacon. 

Miracolo begins with fresh sides of Hereford pork from Palmetto Creek Farms in Avon Park. He starts by slicing off the ends, leaving him with the center cut of the belly, "hence the term center-cut bacon," he says. He then trims off the uppermost layer of fat.
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He combines equal parts kosher salt and sugar, with a dollop of maple syrup, until it takes on the consistency of wet beach sand. He insists that it is of the utmost importance to use the real stuff. "It's not cheap, but it makes a huge difference." He generously coats the belly in the mixture, then Cryovacs it.

To cure, he places it in the fridge for eight days, turning it over periodically. After the curing period, the bellies are pulled out of their bags, rinsed, and dried with a paper towels. They must dry for at least another six hours overnight to ensure there is a minimal amount of moisture in the slab before smoking.

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Next comes the fun part: smoking. Miracolo slightly dries the wood chips by toasting them in a stovetop pan.
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He ignites the mixture before spreading a thin layer onto about a third of the bottom tray of the smoker, above. The racks are set up to allow the slabs to smoke over indirect heat, with enough room between each piece to achieve a nice dry brown on all sides. Miracolo says that he must ensure there is some sort of hole so oxygen can get to the wood chips. The bellies smoke at 225 degrees for about two and a half hours.
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As soon as his thermometer registers 150 degrees, he removes the first belly from the smoker, allowing it cool for 30 minutes before refrigerating. 

Well, that's what his recipe indicates. We actually tear straight into the slab, render a few pieces, and go to town. Could you blame us?

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Location Info

Max's Harvest

169 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach, FL

Category: Restaurant

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