Homemade bacon… not something you made in a 1970s home economics class, but how hard could it be? Answer: ridiculously easy.
I cut my big slab of locally-sourced pork belly into three pieces (one 2 pound piece and two 3 pound pieces) so I would be able to fit each into a regular 1-gallon zip-lock and ultimately, into my Char-Broil Vertical Gas Smoker
. I stashed the 2 pound chunk in the freezer for a future project (Bahn Mi!).
I mixed up a cure for the bacon using my pink salt and Ruhlman’s basic cure:
Ruhlman’s Basic Cure
- 1 pound kosher salt
- 8 ounces sugar
- 2 ounces pink salt
Whisk together the salts and the sugar.
For one of the 3-pound pieces of pork belly, I made a sweeter cure by adding 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar to 1/4 cup of the salt mixture. Then, I dredged the pork belly in the cure and bagged it in the zip-lock, squeezing out the extra air.
For the other 3-pound slab, I made a savory cure by adding 3 crushed bay leaves, 5 smashed cloves of garlic, and a tablespoons of crushed black peppercorns to 1/4 cup of the salt mixture. After dredging the pork belly in the cure, I bagged it in a separate zip-lock and squeezed out the extra air.
The two bags then spent a week in the fridge. I flipped the bags daily to redistribute the cure. After 7 days, I rested. Not really — I took the chunks of pork belly out and rinsed off the cure. Then I fired up the smoker, using whatever I had on hand — 3-4 pounds of mesquite-flavored charcoal along with some hickory chunks and chips and smoked the bacon on a very low heat — around 125 degrees — for about 7 hours.
This isn’t necessarily the kind of bacon you want to slice thin and fry up for Sunday morning breakfast — although that will work. This is special bacon.
Cut it into thick lardons and serve it withartisinal greens and soft eggs.
Or make a lovely hash with sweet potatoes and apple.
Next up: Irish bacon.