BaconYeah. It's better when you make it yourself.
Bacon: Food of the Gods?
There are few foodie buzzwords that have the same affect as the word “Bacon.” Most people would agree with me. Bacon is as American as apple pie and type 2 diabetes. We gnaw on it’s crunchy godlike goodness without hesitation, cook with it’s succulent drippings, and repeat the process week after week. From Salads to Sushi, Bacon is undoubtedly an addition to any dish. It is never excessive, and always welcome.
How can we as cooks make our bacon experience even better? We can make it ourselves! Bacon, like barbecue is better done at home. Tweeked and Twisted to suit our ever changing pallets.
How To: Cure BASIC Bacon
What you’ll DEFINETIALLY Need:
4-10 pounds of fresh, unsliced Pork Belly
“Pink” Curing Salt or Sodium Nitrate
A zip-lock bag large enough for your Pork Belly
Extra Ingretients (to kick it up a notch)
Fresh Maple Syrup (no crap here, use the good stuff)
The Belly of the Beast...
As you may or may not have derived from the ingredient list above, Bacon is made from pork belly. The fat in this delicious cut of meat holds the secret behind bacon’s essence. A typical pork belly has a near 50/50 meat to fat ratio. It’s not just the quantity of fat that puts pork belly on a culinary pedestal, its the quality as well. The belly fat of any animal and in particular the hog, is devoid of any intertwining muscle or tendon fiber. The strict fat/muscle/fat layers of the pork belly make it the perfect candidate for bacon. This previous statement is closer to opinion than to fact, however I believe few bacon-ites would disagree with me. Except Canadians. What you call bacon is deplorable.
The Wet Cure: From Belly to Bacon
So you’ve picked up a fresh pork belly from your local butcher or grocer. What Now?
Create the Wet Cure Solution
FIRST: Heat up 2 1/2 cups of water just below a boil and Pour it in a metal bowl. Then, add your pink curing salt. Keep adding the stuff in until it’s the consistency of peanut butter. Seriously, there’s no real “Quantity Needed.”
SECOND: Add any extra flavoring ingredients you want to the wet cure. I Preferably like a combination of fresh Vermont Maple Syrup and Allspice. Only
PRO TIP: I cure my bacon for weeks upon weeks. The longer, the better.
Third, Mix it all toghether. Take your ziplock bag that fits your hunk of pork belly and your in that salty soupy curing solution. Package it up tight, and lay it flat inside your refridgerator.
Fourth: Now, you wait with only one rule. Flip the belly, daily. Not every other day, not when you remember. DAILY. This will allow for a full and proper transformation from meat to bacon. This process takes 10 days minimum. I suggest going longer for a better flavor and more professional cure. Personally speaking, the longer the better. I’ve left a belly rest in the fridge for a month, and it turned out exquisite.
PRO TIP: make your kid flip the bacon. Ok, this really isn’t a pro tip.
Fifth Step: Rinse, Fry, Repeat. This is the MOST IMPORTANT Step to nail down the flavor of your bacon. After that belly has done it’s time, you need to shave off a sliver, fry it up, and taste it. Chances are good, that it’s too salty. Go over to the sink, and rinse that belly off for 2-3 minuets under hot water. After rinsing, repeat the process until you’ve reached the desired salinity.
SIXTH: Smoke Smoke Smoke. You can’t cure your own bacon without smoking it yourself as well. You just can’t. Your basic rules for smoking wood and pork apply here. Hickory combined with any fruit wood is an excellent choice. Get your smoker or kettle up to 225 F, add 1-2 chunks, and smoke. Typically this is a quicker process, (1-2 Hours). I prefer using temperature as a cooking metric as oppose to time. I smoke the now cured bacon until the internal temp hits 130 Degrees F. After you’ve smoked your meat, let it rest as per usual.
PRO TIP: Now that you’ve got cured pre-sliced bacon, try cutting it in different ways. I love cubing it and making bacon burnt ends.
In Bacon we Trust:
You can do so much with this recipe. Seriously, this is just the bacon beginning for you. With this simple recipe, you can branch out, tweek, smoke, rinse, and repeat. Ever honing and sharpening your bacon curing skills. There is no doubt. Curing your own bacon will make you the envy of every beard covered hipster in your neighborhood. Want an inspiring list of bacon cure ideas for you to try? Check these out!
Black Pepper Bacon
Coffee Bean Rubbed Bacon
Thai Chili Bacon
Sweet Pineapple Bacon
Hicory Maple Bacon
Pesto Infused Bacon
Soy Asian Bacon
Wasabi Ginger Bacon
Blueberry Spice Bacon
Disclaimer: There is obvious and inherent risk curing and smoking meat. Kettle Metal cannot be held responsible for every budwiser fueled “Chef” that let’s his pork belly sit and sunbathe on the porch or unlit smoker for hours upon days. If you get sick as a result of this recipe, it is because of your own doing, not ours. Besides, Bacon is worth the risk of e coli, and you have a better chance of getting that from your grocer’s produce isle.
Bacon is great. Yeah we know that. I hope you’ve learned a little bit about how to cure your own bacon, and decide to start making your own. It may be a bit time consuming, but the time spent is worth it. Seriously. Make your bacon,