I love a good kitchen experiment. This takes kitchen experiments to all new level though. If you’ve never had homemade bacon you have no idea what you’re missing. It makes bacon from the store seem so wrong and inferior. It is really very easy and while it takes some time you don’t have to do much during the time. If you don’t have a smoker yet I don’t know what better argument there is than homemade smoked bacon 🙂
I like to cut the pork belly into manageable sizes, since it makes it easier to cure them in ziplock bags and also when it comes time to slice it later on. The rub amounts are for each pound of pork belly, so adjust accordingly. I did half of mine in brown sugar rub, and the other half in the peppercorn herb rub. We go back and forth on which we like better and I honestly can’t tell you which is better! Next time I might try adding a little maple syrup as well. You can play around with the seasonings, just be sure to use the right amount of tenderquick, as that will keep bad bacteria from growing. You can use pink salt, but you need to be careful when using that, as too much can actually be lethal. I feel like tenderquick is a little safer for a home kitchen.
Pork belly, rind on
BROWN SUGAR RUB:
1 T Morton’s tenderquick
1 T brown sugar
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
CRACKED PEPPERCORN AND HERB RUB:
1 T Morton’s Tenderquick
1 tsp sugar
1 T crushed black peppercorns (Using the side of a chef’s knife, press down to crack)
1 tsp garlic powder (or 1 crushed garlic clove)
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves
1 crumbled dried bay leaf
After 7 days it’s time to rinse the rub off. You don’t want to skip this, as the bacon will be too salty if you don’t.
After you have rinsed the pork belly, place it on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate for 2 days.
Time to smoke! Hot smoke, rind side up, for about 2 hours (we used a mix of hickory and cherry) or until it reaches 150 degrees.
If you don’t have a smoker you could bake it in the oven at about 200 degrees on a rack set over a rimmed sheet. But for optimal flavor, we’re going to smoke. 🙂
Above is what the rind side looks like when done, below is rind side down:
Trim the rind off. Unless you want rind-on bacon, then you would leave it on.
Cool, then slice in desired thickness. It’s easiest if you slice with fat side down.
You’ll want to cut the ends off to get nice neat slices. But you don’t want to waste any! So cut the ends into 1/2 inch cubes, or lardons. You can throw these in a freezer ziplock and they won’t freeze together solid. You can pull out however much you want at a time. These are great for chili, cook until crisp to top baked potatoes, salads… pretty much anything you want to taste amazing.
To store the bacon I weigh out half pound amounts, wrap in butcher paper and freeze.