The idea of beef bacon may seem strange when bacon made from pork is so readily available. The reason that some people prefer beef bacon over pork bacon is because it can be as much as 90% leaner then regular pork bacon. The leanest beef bacon is bacon that comes from grass fed cattle. Although some health food stores carry beef bacon, most people have to go to a local butcher shop and place a special order. If you raise your own beef cattle, you can always make your very own beef bacon. The good news is that making beef bacon isn’t any different then making pork bacon. The only real difference is the species of livestock.
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Things you need
- Cooling racks
- Hanger for the smoker
Beef bacon is made out of the steers belly meat. This is the fat part of the belly region closest to the animal's flank area. After slaughtering the steer you will want to get the belly meat into a refrigerator right away. The best bacon is made out of meat that has been chilled at 5 degrees C for 24 hours before it is cured. Before refrigerating the meat, you should trim it into a square shape; this will make it easier to handle.
Cure the meat. The easiest way to cure the belly meat is a method called wet curing. Wet curing is accomplished when the meat is dipped into a brine that is made out of salt and sugar solution. Once the meat is completely submersed in the brine, let it soak for 3 to 4 days. The salt removes the moisture from the belly meat and the sager ads flavour. When you are curing the bacon you must make sure that the temperature remains at a constant 3.4 degrees C. If the temperature drops below that, the curing process will be halted, and if it gets any warmer the meat will spoil.
Once the beef bacon has sat in the brine for three to four days, pull it out of the refrigerator and rinse it off with cold water. Once the meat has been hosed off, dry it. The simplest way to dry the belly meat is to lay it out on some cooling racks and let a simple house fan blow across the meat. You will know that the bacon is sufficiently dried when a thick shiny coating appears on the top of the meat. This coating is called a pellicle and is basically the hardening brine. The pellicle will help the bacon absorb some flavour while it is being smoked. The bacon should be sufficiently dried within an hour.
Now that the bacon is dried, it's time to smoke it. In order to smoke the bacon you will need chips of hardwood and the type of wood you select will affect the bacon's flavour. Maple will give the meat a sweet taste, cherry will infuse it with a fruity flavour and hickory is what gives meat a good hearty flavour. Before you start the smoker, hang the slaps of beef bacon in the smoker.
When you are smoking beef bacon, you will get the best flavour if you keep the temperature inside your smoker between 25 degrees C and 38 degrees C. Smoke the beef bacon for approximately eight hours.
After the bacon has been smoked. it is ready to be sliced. Although you can slice the bacon by hand, the most efficient method is to use a meat slicer.
After slicing the beef bacon you should keep it vacuumed wrapped and in your freezer until you are ready to cook it.