Bourbon And Maple Syrup Bacon – OMG Recipe
The journey to a perfect balance of sweetness, smokiness, and liquor flavoring is a journey that can turn ordinary bacon into a culinary masterpiece.
And this post is exactly about that.
If you enjoy curing your own meat, you are in for a very special treat as I am about to share a little secret from my BBQ and smoking meat playbook.
Homemade maple syrup and bourbon bacon.
And I am going to break it down in steps so everyone, newbies included, will get the best and tastiest result.
Select The Perfect Pork Belly
As obvious as it might sound selecting the right pork belly is paramount to obtain a home made bacon worthy of that name.
So here are some little tips to help you make the best choice.
Choose The Center Cut Pork Belly
Ideally, for this recipe you want to choose a 2 1/2 to 3 pounds (1-1.5 KG) piece of thick, center-cut pork belly without the skin.
And the reason behind this quite specific choice is that the center cut provides an even distribution of meat and fat, which is essential for creating and evenly smoked and perfectly balanced bacon.
Before you begin the curing process, take a moment to trim off the thinnest edges of the pork belly in order to obtain a uniform rectangular piece.
By doing so the curing and smoking stages will be much more straightforward.
Thoroughly Rinse and Pat Dry
Start by rinsing the pork belly and patting it dry until the surface is slightly sticky.
This step helps remove any impurities while ensuring the curing ingredients don’t slip away.
Use Freezer Storage Bags
To facilitate the curing process, place the trimmed pork belly in a 2-gallon sized freezer storage bag.
A silicon freezer bag is to be preferred over a plastic one, but if you don’t have any just go with what you have.
I love curing my meat in bags because they make it easy to work with the meat and ensure that the curing ingredients are evenly distributed.
Plus you will need a smaller amount of curing and flavoring ingredients than if you were to use any other container.
Daily Massage And Refrigeration
During the curing period, massage the curing ingredients into the pork belly from the outside of the bag.
Store the bag in the fridge and continue massaging the meat daily.
The right temperature combined with massaging are a key step to obtain a perfectly cured bacon in just 7 days, so be methodical about it.
Make Sure Curing Is Completed
After 7 days, check the firmness of your bacon.
As the proof that curing has successfully completed your bacon must be uniformly firm to the touch.
The keyword here is uniformly.
If it feels soft or softer in some areas, you’ll need to extend the curing time and, if necessary, apply additional salt.
Smoking The Bacon
To achieve that distinctive smoky flavor, smoking your homemade bacon is the final, crucial step to take.
Here’s how to do it.
Grill or Smoker Setup
Prepare your grill or smoker and use your favorite wood for smoking for, as you certainly know, the choice of wood can significantly influence the flavor of your home made bacon.
Whichever type of grill or smoker you have make sure that your setup allows for indirect heat and temperature control.
Monitor Internal Temperature
Use a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the bacon and to be sure you have the best reading do not remove the thermometer until a temperature appears on the screen.
To be safe for consumption the meat should should at least reach an internal temperature of 150°F ( 66°C ).
The time needed to reach that sweet spot will greatly vary depending on your equipment.
Just be patient, don’t rush the process and you’ll be rewarded with one of the best tasting bacon you have ever had.
- 2 1/2 to 3 pounds or 1-1.5 kg of thick, center-cut pork belly (skinless)
- 1/2 cup or 100 gr sugar
- 1 tablespoon or 15 ml maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon or 15 ml bourbon
- 2 tablespoons or 30 ml coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon or 5 gr curing salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly or 5 gr ground black pepper
- 2 gallon sized freezer storage bag (or 2 x 7.5 litre bags)
- 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 sugar, 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 add in the curing ingredients.
- Zip or tie the bag and massage the cure into the meat from the outside.
- Place the bag in the fridge
- Massaging the pork belly daily for 7 days
- After 7 days you can inspect your bacon. Thoroughly feel all the meat surface; if it’s firm everywhere it means it is cured
IMPORTANT: If some areas are still soft leave the meat in the bag and sprinkle it with an additional 2 tablespoons salt then check it again after 1 or 2 days
- Now that your bacon is completely cured you can discard the liquids, rinse the meat well, and pat it completely dry
The next step will be smoking the bacon to give it some very familiar and very delicious smoky flavor.
- Add your favorite wood to your grill or smoker then fire it up
- Smoke the bacon until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 150°F ( 66°C ) which you need to measure with a digital thermometer
You can create a delicious variation of homemade bourbon and maple syrup bacon using raw honey instead of sugar.
The reasons to choose raw honey would be the unique sweetness and nuances that raw honey and raw honey only can add to the bacon.
Here’s the modified recipe and at the end you’ll find a few suggestions for the types of honey that work well.
Honey Based Maple Syrup & Bourbon Bacon
- 2 1/2 to 3 pounds (1-1.5Kg) of thick, center-cut pork belly (skinless)
- 1/2 cup raw honey (choose a local honey for added flavor)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon bourbon
- 2 tablespoons coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon curing salt (pink 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, which will make it easier to work with later on
- In a bowl, mix the raw honey with bourbon until the two are fully combined, then add maple syrup
- Mix in the 2 tablespoons of salt, curing salt, and black pepper
- Now insert the pork belly in the 2-gallon-sized freezer storage bag and pour in the honey-based cure
- If the bag has a zip lock zip it closed; if not make a tight knot then secure it with a strong rubber band
- Proceed with massaging the cure into the meat from the outside of the bag
- When the bacon is fully covered with the curing mix and you have been rubbing it in for some minutes, place the bag in the fridge. Remember to massage the pork belly daily for 7 days
- After 7 days thoroughly check your bacon. If it is firm to touch all over it means it is cured; if it still feels soft ( or softer ) in some areas the curing process still needs some extra time.
- Leave the meat in the bag and add 2 more tablespoons of coarse salt then check it again after 1 or 2 days
- When the bacon is fully cured, discard the liquids, rinse the meat well, and pat it completely dry
- Smoke the bacon in your grill or smoker using your favorite wood until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 150°F or 66°C.
- To ensure food safety use a meat thermometer for a trustworthy temperature measurement.
Raw Honey Types And Flavors
– Local Wildflower Honey.
This honey will impart a unique, seasonal and regional flavor to the bacon. It’s a great choice if you want a honey with distinct floral notes.
– Clover Honey.
Clover honey has a mild, sweet flavor and is readily available. It works well as a general-purpose honey for this recipe and especially well for those who do not love a strong honey taste
– Buckwheat Honey.
On the other side of the spectrum if you prefer a stronger, earthy flavor, buckwheat honey is a good choice. It can add depth and complexity to the bacon’s taste.
– Orange Blossom Honey.
For a citrusy and slightly floral flavor, orange blossom honey is a great option and it pairs well with the bourbon and maple syrup.
– Chestnut Honey.
This is the honey to choose if you love sweetness combined with a delicate and delicious bitter aftertaste.
In our home, with time, we have transitioned from the original recipe with sugar to the honey based, which has become our favorite.
As for the honey choice we always try to find some good chestnut honey because it makes our bacon taste so great we can never get enough of it.