I had to try to making some homemade bacon. There was a slab of pork belly in the fridge and I had all the fixings so I took the challenge. The idea of making my own bacon was non-existent when I began this blog but I'm excited I've moved on to more challenging tasks of the pig. I think any home cook should try this process. Ok, lets go!
This is my adaptation of the recipe from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. Of course, you need a slab of pork belly.
This is a 4 lb. belly that I split in half so I started with a 2 lb pork belly. I love bacon but I didn't need 4 lbs of it. The cure is what helps to create the magic.
- 2 teaspoons pink salt
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
Rub the cure mixture over the entire pork belly. Get it all over and don't be shy.
Place skin-side down in in a 2-gallon Ziploc bag. Refridgerate it for 7 days. Turn the belly and redistribute the cure every other day. The pork will release water into the cure, creating a brine. It is important to keep it in contact with the liquid throughout the curing process.
The pork belly should be firm to the touch after curing for 7 days. Remove the belly from the cure, rinse it thoroughly, and pat it dry. Place on a rack over a baking tray and dry it in the fridge for 12-24 hours.
Once it has dried, it is time to hot-smoke it in the grill. But first, lets take a look at this guy after 7 days of curing.
The colors have darkened. It looks good to eat at this point but the smoking process adds a lot of flavor and is a must step. I love the layers of fat and meat. It is starting to look like bacon!
Hot-smoke the pork belly in the grill until it reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees. Since mine was only 2 lbs and my grill was a little too hot, the bacon was done in 1.5 hours. I think you want your grill around 200 degrees temp. I use a charcoal grill for smoking and I am still learning that trick. The temp was definitely over 200 degrees but I was carefully watching the belly so I didn't over shoot my internal temp.
Let cool slightly, and when the belly is cool enough to handle, cut the skin off by sliding a knife between the fat and the skin. Don't take off too much fat though. I saved the smoky skin and fried it up in the pan and made some Crispy Pork Skins.
Crispy pork skins on the left, smoked pork belly, fresh-cut pan-friend bacon on the right. I don't know if I executed the process with success or perfection. Maybe I did overcook the belly a little, but after frying up the bacon, it was fatty, juicy, tasty, very pleasing. The crispy pork skin was also a self-indulgent treat.
I will try curing my own pork belly to make bacon again. This is a process I want to get good at and fine tune my smoking skills with the charcoal grill. But overall, I think I did ok. It looks good and tastes like bacon so I must have done something right.
Pork people, try this at home. It wasn't too difficult. The only real speciality ingredient you need is the pink salt and you need a smoker or grill. And you have to forget about it for 7 days as it cures, the patience is hard but it is important.
Awesome, I have 2 lbs of home-cured smoked bacon in the fridge, time to have some friends over to eat it!