“That pink stuff called ham is very questionable”: Voodoo Bacon’s George Francisco
Born and bred in Mississippi, chef George Francisco has spent years trying to recreate the best food memories from his childhood. With Voodoo Bacon he’s done that, and more.
As a chef I was always very ingredient driven. I would find a new ingredient and it would inspire me to create something new. I’ve created many products and produced many ingredients in my kitchens over the years.
I wasn’t unsatisfied with the bacon in Australia, but I remembered this certain type of bacon and flavour from back home, and couldn’t find it anywhere here. Even ‘dry cured’ or ‘streaky’ bacons weren’t what I remembered. I could remember a certain taste and I wanted to use that in my dishes. I wanted to eat and taste that again. Being a chef, I was able to recreate it here – that’s how Voodoo Bacon came about. The really interesting thing is that I’ve now gone back to the States to compare how close I’ve come and it turns out my bacon is actually better than the memory.
Everyone really needs to learn where their food comes from. Consumers and chefs need to stop and wonder how pigs can be raised in Denmark, shipped around the world, made into bacon – sometimes in another country – and then imported into Australia and sold for $4.99 per kilogram?! Pork raised in Australia costs much more than that before it’s even processed into bacon. What are they doing to that pork? Would you really want to eat that? Wouldn’t the pigs’ feed cost more than the end product, before all that shipping? What about all of the pollution created by the shipping? Then there’s the issue of putting the Australian farmer out of business so Denmark can thrive. Only buy Australian pork in Australia. It tastes better too!
There’s no need to add chemical additives such as preservatives, antioxidants, nitrates and sulphites to bacon. These were required in the days before refrigeration, use by dates and modern packaging. Wet curing is a method of pumping ham and bacon full of brine with chemical additives to preserve this water logged pork. The chemicals keep the water in the meat so that it doesn’t seep back out. Nitrates, sulphites and preservatives are used to keep the meat from going off and to keep it pink. Think about what prosciutto or jamon looks like then think about what ham at the supermarket looks like. Prosciutto and jamon are natural cured hams. That pink stuff called ham is very questionable. Now imagine the flavour difference between those products. Proscuitto and jamon are very full flavoured because they’re dry cured, not pumped full of water.
Voodoo Bacon is completely chemical free. Not one preservative is used. It’s dry cured Australian pork belly. The cure is made from organic ingredients, and it’s smoked with wood from apple trees not liquid smoke, pellets or weird sawdust disks. There isn’t a factory of machines making Voodoo Bacon. It’s just me, a chef that loves bacon.