Curing and smoking meat is an ancient practice focused on preserving food. Salt, sugar, and nitrates,, or nitrite are the four main components of curing. To this foundation, smoking provides antimicrobial action while also giving the meat a special flavour and aroma. Making bacon at home is fairly easy. The flavour of home-cured smoked bacon is rich and full-bodied. Most of the ingredients required for this process come from the supermarket's meat counter, spice dealers, or your local butcher.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- 1/8 cup kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon pink curing salt
- 1/4 cup honey powder or 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoon maple powder
- 2.5 pound pork belly without rind
- Food storage container (large, airtight)
- Paper towels
- Aromatic smoking wood
- Water, wine, or beer
- Little Chief Smoker
- Vegetable oil
- Sauce brush
- Barbecue tongues
- Sharp meat knife
- Cutting board
- Freezer-safe food storage bags
Mix the kosher salt, curing salt, honey, or brown sugar and maple powder thoroughly. Cracked pepper also makes a nice addition to the curing process. If you wish to add it, use 1 heaping tablespoon. Rub the mixture evenly into the pork belly.
Put the pork into the food-storage container. Secure the lid. Place the container in your refrigerator for a full week, turning the meat once a day.
Remove the meat from the container and rinse it of salt residue. Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Let the pork belly rest at room temperature while you soak the aromatic wood with water, wine, or beer, and prepare the Little Chief Smoker.
Set up the Little Chief Smoker outdoors on a level area that's fire safe, such as concrete. Put the soaked aromatic wood into the designated container (apple or mesquite are good choices) on top of the heating element. Plug the system into a grounded outlet. Oil the cooking surface so the meat won't stick.
Put the pork belly on the cooking surface after about 10 minutes when the Little Chief starts smoking. Keep an eye on the temperature gauge. Maintain a temperature of 32.2 degrees Cor 9 hours, turning the meat hourly, for a luscious smoke infusion. Add more wood as required.
Remove from the smoker and cool completely. Slice as thin or thick as you wish. Partition into food storage bags labelled for future use. Freeze.
Tips and warnings
- As long as you use the kosher salt and curing salt, you can mix and match other spices for specially flavoured bacon. Try adding some orange rind or garlic, for example.
- Take a test slice of the pork butt after curing and cook it up. Taste to see if it's too salty. If so, rinse again.
- Smoking the pork belly does not cook it completely. The bacon still requires frying before consumption.
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