Homemade Bacon

bacon-ingredients&prepHome 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!

bacon-finished

bacon-preview

Homemade Bacon

Cooking Time: 2 Hours 30 Mins

Ingredients:

  • 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
     

If oven smoking

  • 3 tablespoons of real liquid hickory smoke.

Directions:

  1. Rinse the belly and thoroughly pat it dry until the surface is tacky. Trim off any thin edges so that the piece is one long rectangle.
  2. In a large, rectangular baking dish or pan, mix the sugar with the maple and bourbon until thoroughly incorporated. Then mix in the 2 tablespoons of salt, curing salt, and pepper and rub it evenly into the meat (like a relaxing, porcine spa treatment), spreading it evenly around the sides as well as the top and bottom. Tuck the meat, encased in all of the rub, carefully inside a sealable plastic bag (gallon sized will work, but oversized are better if you can find them) and lay it flat in the refrigerator for 7 days, massaging the liquids that will amass inside the bag into the meat and flipping it daily.
  3. After 7 days, inspect your bacon. It should be firm to the touch all over, like touching a cooked steak — a sign that it has been cured. If the flesh still feels spongy and soft in spots, leave the meat in the bag and sprinkle it evenly with an additional 2 tablespoons salt and check it again after 1 or 2 days.
  4. Once the bacon is fully cured, discard the solids, rinse the meat well, and pat it completely dry. The next step to giving bacon that familiar flavor is the addition of smoke.

Smoking

  1. Smoke in your grill or smoker using your favorite wood until the meat reaches 150°F (you must check with a meat thermometer).

Roasting and Liquid Smoke

  1. Heat the oven to 200°F. Place the belly, fat side up, on a rack over a roasting pan and roast for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until the interior temperature of the meat reaches 150°F (you must check with a meat thermometer). Gently brush the liquid smoke over the entirety of the bacon, covering both sides evenly.

37 thoughts on “Homemade Bacon

  1. Wow that sounds really tasty. Does the bourbon have to be used? I don’t cook or bake with alcohol, though I realize it is necessary for certain dishes to work. Your thoughts on a substitute?

    • I have cured bacon without using any curing salt. The curing salt is a preservative and helps retain the color of the meat, hence why the bacon in the grocery stores are pink and usually slimey. Plus, if you think about it, the reason why most commercial bacons have a curing salt is because they cold smoke the meat, as where this recipe calls for you to actually hot smoke the meat, and could eat it right from the smoker or oven. As far as most people are not going to eat two and half pound to three pounds of bacon you can wrap in in plastic wrap and then put it in the freezer bag and freeze it, or what I do is bought a vacuum sealer and package it into idividual one pound bags.

  2. Was that enough curing salt? I thought I read somewhere it’s 1 Tbsp of curing salt per lb. the pics look so tasty I’m excited to try this!

  3. My first batch of bacon is almost done curing and then it will be ready for smoke. I like the idea of smoking in my oven. I have the liquid smoke. My question is, do I put the liquid smoke on when I put it in the oven or after it reaches 150 degrees and comes out? Wouldn’t it work better to put it on when I first put it in the oven, allowing the heat to distribute the smokey flavor?

  4. The image of the smoked bacon is really, really eye-catching. That makes me carry on reading the whole recipes you published. I guess that’s what blogger say “A picture is worth a thousand words”

    To tell you the truth, I’m kinda hungry now. Definitely would try myself and recommend to my readers in the future

    Thanks a lot Chris.

    Sean

  5. Like the idea of a rub. We’ve been using a brine soak in the pickling crock which is so heavy. Maybe we will use a rub next time.

  6. A couple quick notes: first it is cure #1 otherwise know as Prague Powder or Pink Salt (not the Himalayan pink salt). What cures the bacon is the very small amount of nitrite in the cure and it is essential. You cannot “cure” pork belly just with salt you will simply end up with an inedible salty brick. similarly there is no such thing as “uncured bacon” despite the plethora of products out there so advertised. If you read the ingredient in uncured bacon you will see “celery powder” which is loaded with nitrite, the exact same chemical composition that is in cure #1. The only difference is it is frankly a lot easier to measure the amount of nitrite (which is crucial to the success of the cure) when using cure #1.
    As far as smoking goes it is my personal opinion that by far the best results come from cold smoking and there is a fantastic product out there that will allow anyone to turn their barbecue pit into a great cold smoker (see http://www.amazenproducts.com/) i use the pellets which are very reliable and give a fantastic smoke.

    Will
    Making Bacon at Home

    • So sorry for the late response for some reason this comment got lost. I always leave it a bit longer and really make sure to massage the pork belly everyday. I would try letting it firm up a bit first.

  7. What if I forgot to smoke and went straight from curing to slicing and frying? The bacon taste really good and has a sweet taste to it. Is that bad?

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