🥓 Smoked Bacon 🥓 Everyone loves bacon. How can one improve upon pork perfection? Follow this technique for curing and smoking your own bacon and find out for yourself. The stuff you’re buying at the store is most likely packed with salt and nitrates and liquid smoke for flavor. With this recipe you can control what you’re eating and get an amazing smoky flavor. This bacon recipe takes some planning and patience, but it’s absolutely worth it.
First you need to get some high quality meat. You can find nice whole pork bellies at Costco or your butcher. Look for one that is about 9 lbs. and has about a 50/50 meat/fat ratio. Take that 9 pound belly and cut it in thirds. A long sharp knife like this Victorinox is essential for this step and slicing the bacon later. This bacon recipe requires several days to cure the pork belly before it’s ready to smoke so be sure to plan accordingly.
Place the each of the three 3 lb pork belly slabs into ziploc freezer bags. Dissolve the Prague Powder in the water fully followed by the rest of the dry ingredients. Pour the cure mixture over the pork bellies and then squeeze out all of the air from the bag before sealing.
Note: Prague Powder #1 is a curing mixture made of 6.25% sodium nitrite and 93.75% table salt. This mixture preserves the pork belly and inhibits the growth of bacteria. It’s important for safety reasons that you don’t alter the proportions of the Prague Powder and distilled water in this recipe.
Days 1, 2, and 3
As the bacon is curing in the fridge the cure is going to settle, but we want to ensure it’s evenly distributed. About every 24 hours massage the bag to redistribute the juices and spices and turn the bag upside down.
After about 3 days of curing your bacon is ready to be smoked. Remove the bellies from the bag, discard the bag and remaining liquid, and rinse the porkbellies in cold water to remove any excess seasoning. Pat the bellies dry with a paper towel and you’re ready to go. Set up your smoker for low and slow smoking at 225°. I recommend trying apple wood with this recipe, but if you want a stronger smoke flavor hickory is also great. When the bacon slabs reach an internal temp of 150° remove them from the smoker. To get quick and accurate temp readings it’s helpful to have a high-quality meat thermometer like the Thermoworks Thermapen pictured below. The total cook time should be about two hours or so.
⏲ 2 hours
Now that the smoking is done you just need to slice the bacon. It’s best if you let it cool. Bagging it back up and putting the bacon slabs in the freezer for 30 minutes will firm it up for easier slicing. Again, this knife is great for long straight cuts. I first square off the edges — the parts that won’t slice evenly. Those edges I just cube up and they go great with veggies, salads or soups. You can get about 16 strips per pound, more or less depending on the thickness you’re aiming for.
Of course you can cook this bacon however your normally would, my preference is in the oven. You get a nice crispy evenly-cooked slices with this method. Preheat the oven to 400°. For easy cleanup, cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place strips in a single layer on the foil. Convect bake for 20 minutes.
⏲ 20 minutes
Supplies Quick List
This is a quick list of everything discussed in this post
Morton’s kosher salt
Monterey Bay 16 Mesh black pepper
Prague Powder #1
Western Premium BBQ Apple wood chunks
Western Premium BBQ Hickory wood chunks
Victorinox slicing knife
Ziploc freezer bags
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Recipe credit Amazing Ribs