Nozlee Samadzadeh

Introducing the Better Bacon Book

May  1, 2012

Do you spend your days dreaming up new ways to cook with bacon? Does assembling a home smoker sound like your ideal weekend project? Were you a fan of our Holiday iPad app? Then the new Better Bacon Book: Make, Cook, and Eat Your Way to Cured Pork Greatness just released for iPad is the cure (pun intended) for you.

Shop the Story

Billed as a "book about bacon for people who care about their food," the app is packed with 150 high-res photos and 20 HD videos that explain every step of the bacon curing process, plus 31 amazing recipes from top chefs such as Fred Morin of Montreal's Joe Beef (our 2012 Piglet winner!), Stephen Carlucci of Colicchio and Sons, and Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow of The Meatball Shop. There are even dessert recipes -- just try to say that Malted Bacon Ice Cream doesn't sound good.

Your host on this bacon journey is Tom Mylan, the all-star butcher and co-founder of The Meat Hook in Brooklyn. He's serious about bacon and his experience is easy to see in videos like "The Disappearing Pig," in which he breaks down an entire pig carcass -- belly, ribs, shoulders, and all -- in under 50 seconds. "There are years of failure behind all these recipes," he says. Tom and his partners spent six years developing their recipes to be reliable, delicious, and historically accurate: "We would comingle ideas from a Virginia cookbook from 1740 with something we found on YouTube." They even enlisted help from sister butcher shops in Italy for their guanciale and pancetta recipes.

The first half of the Better Bacon Book is dedicated to 5 varieties of bacon: slab (what you're used to seeing on your breakfast plate), guanciale (an Italian bacon made with jowl meat), pancetta (and unsmoked Italian bacon), Canadian bacon (cured and smoked pork loin). and face bacon (smoked jowl meat). The recipes are as simple as combining salt, brown sugar, and pink salt (though it's optional) with some time and care. A few hours in the smoker (or not, depending on the variety) and you have your very own homemade bacon. Don't have a smoker? Tom explains how to jury-rig one from a metal trashcan and a hot plate for $99 or less.

Whether you cook or not, the book is worth paging through. Every wonder what pink salt does in a bacon cure, or what flavors different types of wood chips yield in a slab of bacon? Want to know more about the pig's anatomy, how to talk to your butcher to order a pork belly, or where to order pork bellies online? As Tom says, you'll learn "all the information you need that's pertinent -- like the flakiness and stickiness of salt -- and not anything overly scientific."

The Better Bacon Book follows the same simple, easy-to-browse format as the FOOD52 Holiday app. You can quickly jump between steps and recipes, place bookmarks and take notes, and zoom into any image for a better view. As a fun, accessible read for the armchair bacon lover or as a roadmap for the weekend pit boss looking to up their bacon game, the Better Bacon Book is the ideal resource for the carnivore in your life.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

I'm Nozlee Samadzadeh, a writer, editor, farmer, developer, and passionate home cook. Growing up Iranian in Oklahoma, working on a small-scale organic farm, and cooking on a budget all influence the way I cook -- herbed rice dishes, chicken fried steak, heirloom tomato salad, and simple poached eggs all make appearances on my bright blue kitchen table. I love to eat kimchi (homemade!) straight from the jar and I eat cake for breakfast.