|Out of the smoker. Firming up before Slicing|
Bacon is my absolute favoritest thing in the world. Home cured, smoked and thickly sliced bacon is simply amazing. On the grill, or baked at 400 degrees it is the most complex yet tasty thing on the planet.
Here's how I make mine:
- 40 lbs. Pork Belly. Quality and source DO matter here, HOWEVER... The first batch I ever made came from bellies procured through a local Latin Meat Market and were still amazing.
- 2 cups Kosher salt (I use Morton's)
- 2 cups Brown Turbinado Sugar (I use one package of Trader Joe's brand)
- 2 Tbs. Cure#1 (I buy mine from Butcher-Packer. Email me if you need some or a source)
- 1/4 cup Pickling spice.
- Crapload o' black pepper. If you want that!
Mix all dry ingredients together well. Trim up Bellies into nice 12"x12"ish squares. I use a Rubbermaid container I bought at Target that fits perfectly into my fridge... Liberally coat/rub the bellies with the dry ingredients and stack into container. Refrigerate.
Daily, for one week, Rotate and turn, putting bottom ones on top and flipping. You will find about 2-3 inches of liquid on the bottom by now. Normal and good.
After one week. Remove from Brine, wash THOROUGHLY and clean off/trim any loose fat and pieces. Set on wire racks and allow to come to room temperature, dry up a bit and develop a 'pellicle' (It will become sort of dull, and upon touch a little tacky). Should take about three-four hours.
I use an electric smoker at 225 degrees... And use a combo of applewood chunks and hickory sawdust. I soak the wood mixture in apple juice about 30 minutes before I start the smoker up.
I coat one half of the bellies in a mixture of REAL Maple Sugar and a stick of melted butter mixed with a 1/2 cup brown sugar. I use a cheap 4" paintbrush and it works great, right out of the pan. Apply to meat/fat side and edges. Put back on rack. After 30 minutes apply a second 'coat'.
The other half of the bellies I roll in a mixture of medium grind black pepper and a little red pepper flakes. I buy the big bulk pepper at Smart & Final for this and it works great. Put about 2 cups of the pepper mixture in cookie sheet or Pyrex dish, and roll the bellies liberally in it, Pushing it in and coating all the sides and back, not the skin.
I do not have 'Bacon hanger' hooks for my smoker, so I merely spray Pam on the racks, and load up the bacon. Stack all the pepper ones on one side, Maple on the other so they don't drip on one another and contaminate.
I smoke under heavy smoke for one hour at 225 degrees, then drop to 180 for three more hours. After that. Remove, Immediately, with a sharp boning knife, remove the skin, leaving as much bacon and fat as possible. Apply maple on the one, black pepper on the other, let sit out on the racks to cool, then refrigerate overnight.
I freeze it for about 20 minutes just before slicing to keep the fat from smearing in the slicer, then vacuum pack in 8-10oz. packages.
There ya' go. Best Bacon Ever.