Bacon Mak'n

April 22, 2017

I love bacon. We've gotten into the habit of picking up a 9 pound pork belly and making it into a glorious slab of bacon.  It's taken us a few renditions to get the recipe and process we love.  I'd love to share with you. *I say 'we' because my partner is an integral part of this process.

Bacon:

8-10 pound pork belly

2 cups kosher salt

1 cup brown sugar

2 tbs ground black pepper

Optional mixers: rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, maple syrup. Pretty much anything you would like. There is no magic

 

We do not use nitrates, but if you're all about it go for it.  Put it in when you do the salt/sugar mix.

 

Other items:

-sheet pans (I use a really large cookie sheet)

-cooling rack (I use the one I use for cookies)

-thermometer (oven safe)

-2-3 gallon freezer zip lock bags

-smoker + wood chips (optional)

 

 

 

Step 1 (10-14 days before you want your bacon ready)

-Mix salt, sugar, black pepper, and any other flavor mixers you'd like in a bowl. 

-Pat down the pork belly with a towel to dry the surface. Divide the pork in half or thirds depending   on the size of the cut.  We cut ours just small enough to fit in a gallon zip lock bag.

-Spread the salt and sugar mixture evenly on all sides of the pork belly.  You should use all of the mixture in this step.

-Place each piece of pork belly in a zip lock bag. (freezer bags with a double zip work best for avoiding spills).  Put the bags on a cookie sheet or

tray and place in the fridge for 10-14 days. We

prefer 14 days. This is the curing stage.

 

Step 2 (best started at night)

-After the curing stage, the pork should have stiffened somewhat and the bags will have some liquid in it. Pull the pork belly out of the bags and thoroughly rinse off the salt and sugar mixture.  Pat dry with towels.  If you like you can sprinkle the top side with pepper, or red pepper flakes, or any thing you like.  We generally don't put anything on them.

-Set the pork on cooling racks on top of sheet pans so they are elevated and let these sit in the fridge overnight. This creates a skin on the pork belly.  (if you don't do this step just keep them on the counter with a fan blowing over them for an hour or two)

 

Step 3  (This generally takes a good portion of your attention for a day, so we set everything up to do on Saturday or Sunday. There is no set time to this step. Just set aside a day where you can continuously monitor.)

-The next morning (or 1-2 hours later)

**Here's where you can branch off into three

different options depending you what tools you

have. The key to this step is an end result of your

pork belly being at 150 Fahrenheit.

 

Option 1: Smoker (low temp one) + Oven

-Get your smoker set up. Soak your wood chips. We use a Big Chief electric smoker. Put wood chips in the pan, close everything up until you see smoke begin to escape the box.

-Put your pork belly on the racks and insert thermometer in one of the larger sections of the pork belly.

-The duration of this is for 3-4 pans of wood chips, 3 = less smoky and 4 = medium smoky.  You can go longer if you want.  This only get the meat up to about 90-100 degrees.  So, you need to finish this off in the oven.

-Set the oven to 250 Fahrenheit.  Place a cooling rack on a sheet pan and place the pork belly on top of the cooling rack. Key element: do not let the meat overhang the pan or you will have a smoke mess.

-Place in the oven keeping the thermometer in the largest part of the meat. You want the meat to reach 150 Fahrenheit.

-Once the meat reaches temperature take it out and allow to cool.

 

Option 2: Oven only

-Set the oven to 250 Fahrenheit.  Place a cooling rack on a sheet pan and place the pork belly on top of the cooling rack. Key element: do not let the meat overhang the pan or you will have a smoke mess.

-Place in the oven keeping the thermometer in the largest part of the meat. You want the meat to reach 150 Fahrenheit.

-Once the meat reaches temperature take it out and allow to cool.

 

Option 3: Smoker only (high temp)

-I'll be honest, I have no idea how this works because I've never used a high temp smoker.  So if you choose this option, do your thing! Just get the meat up to 150 Fahrenheit.

-Once the meat reaches temperature take it out

and allow to cool.

 

Step 4: Packaging

-Cut slabs into 2" thick strips.  Or cut into strips that you think are good portion sizes or your use. Don't worry about cutting it into single pieces. You can do that easily enough when you are ready to cook. If there are awkward pieces that aren't very bacon-like put those aside in their own package.  These are great for cutting into small pieces aka substituting for pancetta.

-Prep for the freezer however you wish.  We vacuum seal and label.

-When you go to use your bacon, pull it out of the freezer and allow to thaw a little in the fridge. We like to cut ours when it is still really cold because we can get thinner slices and the process of cutting is easier. 

 

Step 5: Cooking

Option 1: My preference is the cook in the oven at 350-375 Fahrenheit flipping 1-2 times. I take it out just before it looks done because it will continue to cook a little.  Remember: the bacon is already cooked so really you are just heating/crisping it to your preference. 

Option 1: The pan. Keep it on medium-low to medium heat otherwise you will find that your bacon burns quickly. 

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

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