Down-home smoked bacon

Down-home smoked bacon

By
From
The Hang Fire Cookbook
Serves
10-12

Everything’s better with bacon, right? This is a fairly straightforward recipe for how to cure and smoke your own bacon. When you get the hang of the curing process and have a firm grasp of how to safely use curing salts, you can pretty much make any style of bacon you want. Like all good things, this one is going to take some time. Start the recipe 7–12 days before.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 x 2.5kg boneless rind-on pork belly

For the basic dry cure

Quantity Ingredient
3 bay leaves
240g fine sea salt
200g soft light brown sugar
1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper
2 teaspoons prague powder # 1, (see recipe note)

Method

  1. Using a sharp knife, trim your pork belly to make an even shape, close to a rectangle or square. Put in a baking tray large enough to give you a little room around the sides.
  2. Put the bay leaves in a spice grinder and blitz to a powder. Add the remaining ingredients to a bowl, making sure they are well combined (it’s important that the Prague Powder #1 is evenly distributed). Press the cure firmly and evenly all over the pork and rub well into the belly. Place the pork in a large ziplock bag, expel as much air as possible (or use a vacuum sealer if you have one). Pop it in the fridge and leave it there for 7 days. (If your piece of pork is thicker than 4cm, leave in the fridge for about 10 days.) Turn it over every day. You should see some osmosis at work as the salt breaks down the cells causing liquid from the meat to accumulate in the bag – the pork will feel firmer as the days progress.
  3. Once the pork is cured, remove from the fridge and gently rinse under the tap. Pat dry with kitchen towels and keep out of the fridge for about 30 minutes to bring it back to room temperature before you put it in your smoker.
  4. TO HOT SMOKE

    Prepare your smoker for indirect heat, setting it pretty low at 94°C. Put the pork belly in, followed by a handful of wood chips or a couple of chunks of wood. Smoke until the internal temperature of the pork belly reaches about 74°C on an instant-read thermometer, about 12–14 hours.
  5. TO COLD SMOKE

    Using a cold smoke generator, fill with sawdust and light the corner with a tea light as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Bullet-style smokers are great for this job as they often have a bar in the lid you can hang meat from. Use two meat hooks to hang the belly from the lid. Cold smoke for a minimum of 12 hours. Keep an eye on your cold smoke generator as you may need to refill it depending on its size.
  6. AFTER YOU'VE HOT- OR COLD-SMOKED YOUR BACON

    Wrap the pork belly in cling film, or preferably cut it in half and vacuum seal, then put in the fridge for 5 days. This allows the smoke flavour to mature. After 5 days, we usually portion the belly into around 200g of thick (3mm) slices, keep what we want to eat for the next day or two and vacuum pack and freeze the rest. It will keep for another week in the fridge and freeze for 3 months.

Wood

  • Beech, Apple, Cherry, Maple

Making your own flavour profiles

  • You can add pretty much anything in the curing stage. We like fresh, oily herbs such as thyme, sage or rosemary. You can add chilli flakes, cracked black pepper, maple syrup, honey, black strap molasses or juniper berries, celery seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds and caraway seeds. Find flavours that you really like and try some of them out. Just try not to go overboard – test out just two or three extra ingredients with the basic cure above and see which additions give your ultimate side of bacon.

A note on Prague Powder #1

  • We recommend using this so you can keep your sausage making adventures safe for you and anyone else eating them. It has a combination of table salt and sodium nitrite, which not only helps prevent the build up of nasty bacteria but also preserves the colour of the meat, preventing it from looking grey when cooked. Read the instructions on your packet of Prague Powder #1 carefully, it’s potentially harmful if not used in the correct way.
Tags:
barbecue
BBQ
Southern
America
Deep South
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