Just like duck confit, a bacon confit essentially braises bacon in fat. While you could in theory spend weeks saving up bacon grease and rendering it, or turning to basic lard, I actually think you get better confit flavor by using duck fat that has been enhanced with other flavors.
I actually like to use bacon ends and pieces instead of plain slices of store bought nitrate free bacon. The ends and pieces are just as they sound. A pork belly is a little meatier and inconsistent on the ends. As a result these sections are usually cut away and sold as odd shaped bits and chunks at a discount price. In fact many butchers will sell them in side packs for half the price. If they don’t sell in a day or two then they’ll usually toss it into a sausage grind or breakfast patty.
If you’ve got a full service butcher, you can usually request they save the ends and pieces when the process and slice bacon throughout the week. You could just as easily order a full slab of cured and smoked nitrate free bacon and cut cubes from the main part of the slab.
Bacon and peppers work and play well together, so I actually like to turn this into an amuse bouche (One bite appetizer) served on warmed appetizer spoons.
After the confit I like to take the ends and pieces out of the seasoned duck fat and chop them into match sticks. Then I serve the bacon match sticks over chutney of fermented or pickled peppers mixed with fresh jalapeno pepper and minced cherry tomato.
½ pound of nitrate free bacon ends and pieces
1 shallot, cut into quarters
2 cloves of garlic cut in half
2 sprigs of thyme
1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon of black peppercorns
1 cup of fermented or pickled jalapeno peppers
½ cup of brine from the fermented peppers
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and with stems removed
½ teaspoon of cumin
½ teaspoon of turmeric
½ teaspoon of fresh cracked black pepper
1 shallot, chopped fine
1 tablespoon of fresh parsley, chopped fine
½ cup of cherry tomatoes, seeded and diced
Here is how to make a delicious bacon confit
Step 1: Melt the duck fat in a medium saucepot over low heat. Add the quartered shallot, halved garlic, rosemary, thyme and black peppercorns. Pour the fat into a small roasting pan or old bread pan.
Step 2: Preheat your oven to 225 degrees F.
Step 3: Add the bacon ends and pieces to the oil. Place the pan in the oven and allow the bacon to braise for 1 hour or until the biggest bacon piece is fork tender.
Step 4: Once the bacon confit is in the oven start preparing the vegetables, add them to work bowl along with the cumin, turmeric and cracked black pepper. Toss to combine then place the work bowl in the refrigerator.
Step 5: After the bacon is ready, remove the pan from the oven. I like to place the appetizer spoons at the edge of the stove to warm them. Just keep in mind that you want a warm spoon, not one that will burn a diner’s hand. Another option is to place a ceramic pie plate in the oven to absorb some of the heat and then serve the appetizer spoons on the pie plate.
Step 6: Gently remove the bacon from the seasoned duck fat. Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut the bacon pieces into matchstick slices. They will be very tender so handle them as little as possible.
Step 7: Lay the warmed appetizer spoons out for each diner. Quickly portion half of bacon match sticks into the bottom of each spoon then lay a mound of the pepper chutney over the bacon base. Top with the other half of the bacon match sticks. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately.
Strain and save the seasoned duck fat after it has cooled down a little. The fat will be infused with smoky and herbaceous flavors. I love to use it in other dishes, especially for Mexican dishes that call for sautéed onions and peppers.