There is no doubt that bacon is one of the greatest things on this earth. Especially when it is partnered up together with eggs and some fresh bread. Buuuuut it is next level when you make the bacon yourself.
You will be surprised how easy (and satisfying) it is to chow down on a bacon and egg sandwich knowing that you made the bacon. It might just be a bias here, but I also think it tastes so much better than store bought
Note: The last thing you want is burnt bacon! So I highly recommend you check out my list of the best smoker thermometers.
Smoking bacon at home does take a little bit of time and preparation, as well as some tools. This isn't for something looking for a quick bacon fix!
Smoking bacon at home is a pure joy, however, there are somethings that you must keep in mind to walk away with the best possible product.
Choosing The Right Pork Belly For The Job
You can't go into any job without the correct tools. Smoking your own bacon is no exception. You need to get yourself the best quality pork belly you can find.
Ideally, you want to get a good hunk of belly that has come from an organic farm, or at least a breed such as Berkshire, Duroc, or Kurobuta.
This will ensure you have a more rich, & meatier piece of belly that will be bursting with flavour. Not like those industry farmed pigs.
Note: I highly recommend my Genesis ii lx s-340 for the job! This bad boy hasn't lead me astray yet (or burnt my bacon)
Removing The Skin (Rind)
This recipe doesn't require the rid of the belly. This is because the rind is far tougher than the rest of the pork and will stop flavour from absorbing into the meat.
Any decent butcher should remove this for you, however, I like to remove it myself. This is for 1 main reason. I LOVE making crispy pork skin while the belly cures!
To remove the skin you will need one of the best slicing knifes (it can tough to get thought the rind). With the rind side up place the knife between the rind and the meat and slide away from you. The knife should be slightly angled up towards the skin.
Preparing Your Cure
The basic cure ingredients are curing salt, pepper and sugar. You can use nearly any sugar you like and even mix different sugars. I recommend having a play with the proportions of these ingredients. You can get a very wide range of different flavors.
You can even add in other flavors. Chilli, pepper, and other aromatic spices help give the bacon a really beautiful underlying flavour. Again the possibilities are endless and I would encourage everyone to go wild here.
Curing Your Pork Belly
The curing process takes 5 days. I know, this is hard. However, you need to place your pork belly on a rimmed baking tray inside of a resealable plastic bag or foil tray. The rimmed baking tray is primarily used to stop any leaks leaking everywhere.
This needs to sit in the refrigerator for 5 days. It is very important that you turn the belly every day. This will help re disperse the juices that gather in the tray/bag.
Rinsing Your Pork Belly
Once the 5 days is up, you need to thoroughly rinse your pork belly. This is to remove any access salt. Thoroughly rinse the pork belly under cold running water. I like to use a colander, however, use what you have available.
Once thoroughly rinsed, dab dry with plenty of paper towel. Place the dry belly (uncovered) onto a wire rack on top of a rimmed baking tray and set in the refrigerator for a further 4 hours (the longer the better so overnight again if possible).
This process helps the skin form a pellicle layer. The texture you are looking for is dry, papery and tacky to touch. This outer layer will help the smoke stick to the skin giving you a deeper smoke flavour and that beautiful bronze color.
Smoking Your Pork Belly (Finally)
It's business time. For smoking your pork belly you are wanting to maintain a temperature between 160 - 180°F. Ideally as close to 175°F as possible. I find that my smoke vault smoker, is top notch at holding this temperature of a long period.
When smoking pork belly for bacon, I like to use woods such as apple, hickory or cherry. This works with the bacon to create a great flavour. Unlike a stronger wood like mesquite which I find overpowers the bacon flavour.
You are looking for smoke your pork belly for around 2 - 3 hours depending on the thickness of the cut. The internal temperature needs to be around 160°F and the skin a beautiful bronze color.
Resting Your Bacon
After your bacon has reached 160°F you need to let it cool until it has reached room temperature. The best way to do this is on a wire rack.
Be sure to have a tray underneath to catch any drippings. Once at room temperature, the bacon needs to rest in the refrigerator overnight (or at least a further 4 hours).
Tightly wrap it in plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator. This helps the bacon achieve a better texture and flavour. You can store the bacon in the freezer for several months or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Slicing And Cooking Your Bacon (Finally!)
Making your own bacon is great for one main reason. You can choose how thick you want it! I am a sucker for a nice big thick piece.
You can cook your bacon 1 million different ways. However, my favorite is to just simply cook it over a hot grill until crispy. It
Grill: On a medium - high grill place your bacon directly on the grill. Leave enough space between each slice so you can move without causing flare-ups. Grill on each side until crispy. I like to place my bacon on a paper towel straight out of the grill to absorb any access grease.
Oven: Place bacon on a wire rack on top of a rimmed baking in a preheated oven at 400°F for 15 - 20 minutes or until crispy. I like to place my bacon on a paper towel straight out of the oven to absorb any access grease.
Stove Top: Place bacon in a cold frying pan. Fry on low - medium heat until each side is crispy. Make sure that you remove any access grease throughout the cooking process. I like to place my bacon on a paper towel straight out of the pan to absorb any access grease.
Charlies Tasty Tip!
If you find that cured pork is a little bit salty for you. I would recommend something a little bit leaner like a pork loin. You will find you still get the smoky flavors without the sodium.
Home Made Smoked Bacon Recipe
- 2 teaspoons pink curing salt
- 3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup kosher salt
- 4 to 5 pound pork belly
- In a mixing bowl mix together kosher salt, pepper and pink salt. Once mixed add in the sugar, make sure to break up any lumps with your fingers.
- On a rimmed baking tray lined with baking paper, sprinkle half the cure onto the skin side of the belly. Once thoroughly coated, turn over and use the remaining cure to coat the underside. When the whole pork belly is coated place in a resealable bag (or covered and sealed foil pan) and place in the refrigerator.
- Let the pork belly cure for 5 days. Be sure to turn each day to redistribute any liquids that have accumulated at the bottom of the pan/bag.
- After 5 days drain the pork belly and rinse well with lots of cold water. Once well drained dab dry with lots of paper towel.
- Place the pork belly on a wire rack on top of a baking tray and set back in the refrigerator. Let the pork belly dry for around 4 hours (can take longer for larger bellys) or until the surface of the belly feels tacky & papery.
- Pre heat your smoker to 175°F as per your smokers manufacturers instructions. It's not essential but I like to use woods such as apple, hickory or cherry for t this recipe, these woods complement the pork perfectly, however, your favourite wood will be fine too.
- Place the pork directly on the grill grate and smoke until the belly is firm and has a bronzed outer. Depending on the size of your belly this should take between 2 - 3 hours. You are looking for an internal temperature of 150°F.
- Place the bacon on a wire rack and let cool until it has reached room temperature. Once cool wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. If you can wait, overnight works best.
- Slice! I like to slice this bacon fairly thick, however, thin however you like your bacon. My favourite way to cook the bacon is on the grill, however, you can cook it any way that you like!
So there you have it, my super easy smoked pork loin. This is a great easy recipe for anyone new to smoking or looking to impress their friends with minimum effort. I hope you enjoy it as much as myself and the family does!
Do you have a variation or any tips for this recipe? I would love to hear from you in the comment section below.