Home Cured Bacon

With all the posts that I have done over the summer about curing meat, (Pastrami, Smoked Turkey and Canadian Bacon) I think that there is no way I can move on without doing American style Bacon! When fall arrives, a lot of people start dreaming of Pumpkin Spice lattes and such, but not me… I start thinking of Bacon! Good Bacon. Smoky, meaty, sweet bacon – not a slab of bland fat with a ribbon or two of meat running through it!

morebacon

Like all of the other meats that I have posted – making Bacon (ahem) is a relatively simple process.

  • Purchase a Pork Belly
  • Trim  up to manageable pieces
  • Make a Seasoning Cure
  • Refrigerate for a week
  • Rinse
  • Smoke

The best place to find pork bellies is going to be your local butcher shop. Go in and make friends with the butcher! If they don’t have any pork bellies they can usually get one for you in a day or two. Chances are good that your butcher also makes bacon so they should have some available.
Here in Apple Valley, my local butcher shop is the Overland Meat Company. They are very friendly and supply some great meat! The pork belly that I bought from them was excellent! And of course, they make their own bacon.

bacon1

Time to cut up the bacon.  the pork belly that I cured weighed 12 lbs. I decided to cut the belly up into 6 – 2lb pieces so I could try different seasonings for each piece. It worked good, but next time I will go for larger pieces (maybe 4 – 3lb pieces).

More than likely there will be skin on one side of the pork belly. You can leave it on or remove it. I prefer to remove the skin… you aren’t going to eat it, so remove it so you can get more smokiness into the meat!

Take each 2 to 3 lb piece and lay it skin side down on a cutting board. Carefully slide a fillet knife just above the skin. Keep a downward flat pressure on the knife and cut, keeping the blade parallel to the cutting board. Cut to the edge, then turn meat around and cut the other way.  Throw skin away (or look up a recipe for Pork Cracklins)

bacon2

Seasoning / Cure Mix

The curing salt that I prefer to use is Morton’s Tender Quick (opens a link in my Amazon store if you are looking for it..) I think it’s the easiest cure to use – Just add 1 Tablespoon of Tender Quick for each Lb of meat that you intend to cure. Thats it. Just add that to any seasonings you want!

I made 6 different cure recipes for my bacon a couple of them were similar so I will only list three  but use your imagination… Different herbs, Chipotle, Bourbon, Maple Syrup?

1. Apple Juice and Honey Bacon

  • 2 Lbs pork belly
  • 2 Tablespoons Morton’s Tender Quick
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey
  • 4 Tablespoons frozen apple juice concentrate
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper

2. Herbed Bacon

  • 2 Lbs Pork Belly
  • 2 Tablespoons Mortons Tender Quick
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh Rosemary tips
  • 1 teaspoon Thyme (fresh is best)
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic

3.  The Macallan and Honey

  • 2 Lbs Pork Belly
  • 2 Tablespoons Mortons Tender Quick
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey
  • 2 oz  Single Malt Scotch (I used The Macallan 12 year)
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper

bacon12bacon6

Curing.

Place each pork belly and the seasoning cure mix into a 1 gallon ziplock bag, shake well and store in the refrigerator. Flip each bag over once or twice a day. Cure in refrigerator for 7 days.

Now that the bacon has cured for 7 days (a couple of extra days won’t hurt if you have to wait…) it is time to rinse some of the extra salt off of the bacon. Take each piece out of its bag and wash off the cure and then soak in a bowl of cool water for 15 minutes, pour off the water and soak once more for 15 minutes.

bacon5

Smoking.

Time for some smoke!

The toothpicks were to help identify the different cures...

The toothpicks were to help identify the different cures…

You don’t have to smoke your bacon, but it is sooo much better if you do! I used a combination of Hickory and Apple wood and tried to keep the temperature around 200-225f. It took me two or three hours to get the internal temperature of the bacon to 150f  (Edit –  I no longer bring the temperature of the bacon up to 150f. It is cured, and I am going to cook it before consuming so now I just smoke for 2 hours and keep the heat down and call it good!)

bacon8

bacon9

Thats it!  The bacon is ready. Fry some up and try it. The bacon slices up the best when it has been refrigerated  and is cold.  Although it is pretty easy to slice up by hand – I think I will look into getting a meat slicer so my slices are more uniform!

Enjoy the Fall!

Enjoy the Fall!

Advertisements

About CastIronDan

I'm a married father of three from Apple Valley, CA that enjoys Cooking, Roasting Coffee and HomeBrewing.
This entry was posted in BBQ, curing meat, DIY, Meat and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Home Cured Bacon

  1. Laurin Beardsley says:

    Dan! That looks amazing! David is smoking bacon as I write this. We skipped all of your first steps and went straight to the store, so I’m sure it isn’t as tasty as yours…but pretty good all the same!

  2. CastIronDan says:

    Nice! Tell David hi for me!

  3. David says:

    Just smoked a pepper bacon on Manzanita!!!
    want to try yours!

  4. CastIronDan says:

    I bet Manzanita would great on bacon! I’ll save you some of mine…

  5. Shari says:

    WOW A ton of work – but I bet it is sooo worth it!

  6. CastIronDan says:

    Hi Shari, It’s not as much work as it first seems… I was just a bit wordy in my description! But yes, it is worth it…

  7. lorettafritz says:

    This is terrific. Terry and I had a friend do a bunch of bacon for us (our own pork bellies of course) and now we want to try it ourselves. BTW, my dad has a nice smoker if you want to borrow it for a day. Nice to know we can do this on the grill.

  8. Pingback: CastIronDan is 1 Year Old! | Cast Iron Dan

  9. Andy says:

    Which was your favorite flavor? I sliced mine while it was hot and it got messy fast! I need a slicer as well.

  10. CastIronDan says:

    Hi Andy, I have to say that all the cures that I used were great, but my favorite was the Herbed cure! My family gave me a slicer for Christmas and it really does a great job on the bacon… very consistent . BTW Andy, I enjoyed your blog! Dan

  11. Pingback: Time for more Bacon… | Cast Iron Dan

  12. CastIronDan says:

    Reblogged this on Cast Iron Dan and commented:

    Last night I stopped by Costco (Victorville, CA) for a few things and noticed that they actually had pork bellies for sale for $1.99 a pound! So I did the only thing that I could have done… I bought 22 lbs! I know it seems like a lot, but I’ll have to do some sharing…

    If any of you happen to have a costco nearby, you might want to check their meat counter!

  13. atkokosplace says:

    This is fantastic! Thank you for sharing. Bacon is super pricey and I cringe every time I want some. I have a Costco near by. I think a shopping trip is in order. You sure took the mystery out and your directions are easy. Thank you again for kindly sharing. Best, Koko

  14. Pingback: Cast Iron Dan turns three!! | Cast Iron Dan

  15. Pingback: Getting Ready For The Holidays | Cast Iron Dan

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s