Home curing bacon has been one of those things I’ve heard about for years but thought it was more the stuff of upscale restaurant kitchens or rural cottages in the European countryside – I never thought it was something that I was actually set up to easily do in my own modest home kitchen. Last year my wife, knowing my interest in the subject, picked me up a copy of Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing and, as I read through it one evening, I realized that it was a lot more doable for me than I had originally thought. As long as you have some patience and a little extra space in your refrigerator, it’s really not much different than preparing any other type of meat – it just takes a little longer. But, my oh my, is it worth the wait! It is an easy and versatile recipe – I’ve experimented with adding different flavors from persimmons to vanilla beans and it’s never failed me. Whether you love bacon or you don’t love bacon, you’ll love THIS bacon! Enjoy!
- 2 1/2 to 3 pounds of thick, center cut pork belly (skinless)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon bourbon
- 2 tablespoons coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon curing salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 gallon sized freezer storage bag
- Rinse the belly and pat it dry until the surface is sticky. Trim off the thinnest edges so that the piece is one long rectangle, this will make it a lot easier to work with later on.
- In a bowl, mix the sugar with the maple and bourbon until thoroughly incorporated. Then mix in the 2 tablespoons of salt, curing salt, and pepper. Place the pork belly in 2 gallon sized freezer storage bag and dump in the curing ingredients. Zip closed and massage the cure into the meat from the outside of the bag. Place the bag in the fridge, massaging the pork belly daily. This should take about 7 days
- After 7 days, inspect your bacon. It should be firm to the touch all over, this is a sign that it is cured. If it still feels soft in places, leave the meat in the bag and sprinkle it with an additional 2 tablespoons salt (not pink salt) and check it again after 1 or 2 days.
- Once the bacon is completely cured, discard the liquids, rinse the meat well, and pat it completely dry. The next step to giving bacon that familiar flavor is the addition of smoke.
- Smoke in your grill or smoker using your favorite wood until the meat reaches 150°F (you must check with a meat thermometer).