Who among us does not love bacon? Known as the “gateway meat” to some, it is a wonderful breakfast meat that has slowly crawled into the rest of our days by means of BLT’s, bacon jam, companions to those late season greens, etc. Fortunately for us, it is rather easy to make at home as well, it just takes time. And a little pork belly.
For this one, I went with a dry rub. You will need Cure #1, some salt, and some sugar as a base. From that you can add whatever you like. I was able to grab 3# of pork belly from my local butcher and I cut it in half to make the following rubs:
- Pepper & Garlic. Basically I just mixed up some course ground pepper and dried minced garlic bits.
- Herbs deProvence. I made this fresh using 3T each of marjoram, thyme, & savory, 1t basil & rosemary, and 1/2t sage & fennel seeds. For each I mixed the dry rub and the augmentations, sealed them in a ziplock (vacuum seal it next time), and put it in the fridge to forget about for a week. After the curing, I rinsed them off and took a couple of slices off for tasting (for quality control, of course). Both were really good, though I could have gone a bit more on the herbs.
After tasting, I hung them in the garage fridge overnight to develop a pedicle to get the smoke.
And then cold-smoked them for 6 hours using a 2:2:1 mix of Cherry:Apple:Hickory in my MES Cold-Smoking Kit. This is really a nice littlecontraption(though I had to put the additional horizontal chimney on it to cool down the smoke a bit. Throughout the smoking, the internal temperature of the smoker never got above 63°F.
After tasting it, I imagine it could have gone for another hour or two. I was not going by color, the wood I used does not color it much, but just byintuition(totally unfounded and not based in any facts at all).
After the smoke, I bagged the chunks and put it in the fridge to rest for two days (like cheese I suppose). This is another of those things that I don’t know if it helps but I was a bit busy in my other life at the time so the bacon had to wait. When I was ready to cut it, I put it in the freezer for an hour to get the meat a bit more solid (I don’t have a slicer) and then cut them by hand. I typically cut my bacon in half, lengthwise, so that it doesn’t wrap up the sides of the pan and this time I bagged both varieties of slices in a partitioned vacuum bag.
Overall, I think it turned out pretty well. Usually when I try something for the first time, I go way overboard on it and it needs to be dialed back a bit. However, for this bacon, I think I can turn it up a bit next time (not all the way to 11). That being said, thisexperimentwill bring plenty of joy to the breakfast table this holiday season. If you are thinking about doing bacon, it is very easy. You do not have to cold smoke it and I think next time I will try out hot smoking it to see the difference. With something like bacon, how can you go wrong?