Bacon-makin’, part deux

Bacon! Real bacon!

Remember what I started back here? As soon as I figured out that bacon was only pork I could still tolerate?

I followed the tips in this article and set those six pounds of fresh pork belly to curing in maple syrup, kosher salt, pepper, and homemade brown sugar in my fridge for seven days. I kept it in a big plastic bag on a cookie sheet and flipped it once a day. (It was supposed to cure only six days, lest it get too salty – but I got some serious shoulder spasms out of the blue – they’re gone now, thank goodness! – and couldn’t do anything on the sixth day.)

Then:

I borrowed a smoker. I managed to keep it under 150 for 9 hours. I used twigs from my fruit trees, applewood chips, and a handful of hickory.

That’s important because you don’t want to cook the meat. I wasn’t trying to smoke it in order to actually preserve it like they did back in the day – that would take days. So I made sure the center got to 150 at least once to kill any potential parasites, and then I let it stay around 130 as long as there was tons of smoke happening. Just two chimneys of charcoal kept the smoker going the whole 9 hours.

I mean, you’re going to cook it later anyway, right?

Sliced as thick as you want, for once.

I like to bake mine on a rack above a cookie sheet at 400F (Maybe 375 if they’re thin slices?) until done. Rotate at least once if you don’t have convection. That way I can make as many slices as I want and they all come out at the same time – no batches in pans. (Thanks, Kathy, for that tip!)

The results are… otherworldly. I didn’t get any pictures because we gobbled them up too fast. Moaning.

I truly believe that homemade always tastes better than processed store-bought (as long as you know what you’re doing in the kitchen). But this… this bacon was truly a revelation, an eye-opening ephiphany, a what-the-heck-have-I-been-putting-in-my-mouth-this-whole-time-why-did-I-never-know-it-could-be-this-good kind of experience. This bacon was that good.

I’m not saying it was perfect. It was a little too salty from having to sit an extra day in the fridge (they warned me that would happen). I cut it a little too thick – hadn’t known that was possible – so it took forever to cook and the pre-cooked edges got blackened.

But I am saying that as soon as the first simultaneously melting-and-crunchy morsel hit my tongue and my brain started firing smoky-salty-sweet-fat-maple-oh-my-God, I knew that I can never go back to those dripping, skinny, gelatinous storebought slices ever again.

10 Responses to “Bacon-makin’, part deux”

  1. heidi Says:

    stop it, I’m drooling already. Sounds wonderful and I really love bacon.

    Just be really careful to thoroughly cook the bacon once smoked, says the parasitologist in me.

    But OHHH, I wish I could try some.

  2. Erin Says:

    Oh man you just totally got my mouth to watering! I’m glad it worked out, we have really enjoyed using the smoker! Smoked turkey is the bomb! But even better is smoked turkey broth, so freakin good, makes rice 20 times better, just yum!

  3. ohiofarmgirl Says:

    thats the way to get ‘er done baby! whooooot!

  4. ohiofarmgirl Says:

    hey baby! stop by my place.. i have something for you
    :-)

  5. diana Says:

    Oh boy oh boy! I’m heading on over!

  6. debbie swickard Says:

    What time is breakfast? 😆 I have some jars to bring over anyway….

  7. diana Says:

    You know you’re always welcome, Debbie! :)

  8. Kate@LivingTheFrugalLife Says:

    Wow. I’m all set to begin curing my first piece of belly – today. I hope I can do half as well. I’m really looking forward to it. Definitely going with maple syrup in the cure, then a mixture of apple and hickory smoke, just like you did. I heard recently that fig wood makes outstanding smoking material. And I have small figs that will need pruning, eventually.

  9. Melissa Says:

    I happen to have some apple wood that my father-in-law brought down from MO and we have a smoker. I was all happy until I hit the “homemade” brown sugar…???

  10. diana Says:

    Well that’s just regular sugar blended up with some molasses to the right color! Same as storebought, but cheaper and tastier. :) But you can use whichever you have on hand. This is a pretty loosey goosey recipe – add whatever seems like it’d taste good!

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