Believe it or not, making bacon at home is a lot easier that you would think. But if that’s not enough to convince you to do it, I highly suggest you take a closer look at your store bought bacon.
The bacon I see at the store these days are mostly fat! there’s almost no meat on those things. Are you really paying $7/lb for lard??
Plus, most of the top brands have an ingredients called sodium nitrite. Sodium nitrite is a salt added to help preserve the bacon. It is also used in higher doses as a fumigate to kill rodents.
Alright, if that was enough to convince you to make your own bacon, please keep reading! This really only takes about 30 minutes of you time in a span of 2 days.
First, go buy a slab of pork belly. You want good quality, since after all, you are making your own freakin’ BACON! I got mine from a Korean market, and it was black pig pork belly. I’ve heard that black pig is commonly known as the superior breed for pork. Plus I liked how much meat was in it.
You can buy pork belly from any asian market, just be sure to take the skin off since we won’t want it for this purpose.
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp whole black pepper
1 tsp fennel seed
1 bunch sage
1 tsp whole coriander
1/2c brown sugar (packed)
Bring all the ingredients for the brine (except the ice) to a boil and steep for 20 minutes. Pour over ice to cool.
Put the pork belly in a brine for 48 hours.
I put a creme brûlée dish on top to ensure the pork belly was complete submerged into the brine.
After 48 hours, take out the pork belly and rise to make sure to get all the brine off. If you miss this step, the bacon will end up too salty.
Pat dry with a paper towel. At this point, you can hold the pork belly in the fridge until you’re ready to smoke it. The brine will act as a preservative, but I wouldn’t hold it for more than 3 days before smoking since we need the pork fresh to withstand 5 hours of cold smoking without spoiling.
For the smoking process, you will need some sort of smoker. A grill will work also. You will set it up so that the wood chips and coals will be on one side of the grill, and the pork belly on the “cold side.” The whole idea is to have the wood chips smoking (via hot coals) in an enclosed space so that the pork will absorb the smoky scent, without being cooked.
To smoke, soak the applewood chips in water for at least 10 minutes. This will help produce smoke without burning the wood too fast.
Meanwhile, if you have a chimney starter, heat up about 5 coals. I don’t have one so I just used my torch to get the coals going. If you don’t have a torch either, then you can use a gas stove and just set the coals on top of the flame. Use tongs and very carefully carry it to the grill. We don’t want to ruin any of your floors! Last resort to heating up the coals would be lighter fluid. We don’t want to use this method because the whole point is the infuse the pork with a nice scent. You don’t want to infuse the smell of lighter fluid!
Place hot coals on top of wet, drained, apple wood chips. You can use foil to make a little basket like I did, or use one of those aluminum disposable trays.
Close the lid of the grill, and we want to smoke it for about 4-5 hours. There should be a good amount of smoke coming out of the vents. If not, add another hot coal. Make sure to check back to see if the coals need to be moved over some new wood or if you need to lay from fresh coals on top. You don’t want the coals to completely burn out because then your bacon will be sitting there smokeless and you will have the relight the coals.
The temperature inside the grill should be between 80°F-120°F. Remove a hot coal if the temperature goes about 120°F, and remove one if it drops below 80°F.
After smoking the bacon, chill it so that it’s easier to slice. I put mine in the freezer for about 3 hours, which was enough to firm it up, but not to freeze solid. I hand sliced mine and ended up with thick cut bacon. You can choose to use a slicer, if you have one, or even take it to a butcher and ask them to slice it for you.
The bacon should last in the fridge for 1 week, or in the freezer for 2 months.
Fry it up for breakfast, throw it in a pot of baked beans, use it like pancetta in a pasta dish, put some into cupcakes (surprisingly delicious). The possibilities are endless!!
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp whole black pepper
- 1 tsp fennel seed
- 2 cloves
- 1 bunch sage
- 1 tsp whole coriander
- 1/2c salt
- 1/2c brown sugar (packed)
- 6c water
- 2c ice
- 1- 2lb pork belly (skin removed)
- 2c applewood chips
- Make brine by bringing all the ingredients except ice to a boil and steep for 20 min. Strain into ice and stir until cool.
- add pork belly and weigh down to completely submerge
- store in refrigerator for 48 hours
- rinse, pat dry
- soak applewood chips in water for at least 10 minutes, drain.
- place hot coals on top of the wood chips, in the grill.
- place pork belly on the other side of the grill (not above the coals)
- close lid and smoke for 4-5 hours, adjusting wood chips and coals for a good amount of smoke
- temperature should be 80°F-120°F
- cool, and slice