Ever read the ingredient list on a package of store bought bacon? Those unpronounceable things are there so they can produce the product as cheaply and quickly as possible. Making your own bacon not only eliminates most of these chemicals, but also produces a product that is customizable and tastes far superior to most store bought bacon.
You can mess with most of the ingredients and make it to your taste, however it is very important to not mess with the salt or pink salt quantities as this helps ensure a safe product for you and your family. If you don’t want to use pink salt which is a combination of Sodium Nitrate and Salt you can substitute Celery Juice powder (directions found elsewhere on the web) and salt, but remember that celery Juice powder contains naturally occurring Sodium Nitrates and thus I really don’t see the point. If you want to reduce the salt, soak the bacon for up to 48 hours in ice cold water before smoking as this will pull a lot of the salt out of the meat
Makes 5 pounds
5 pounds of Pork belly or side skin removed (keep the skin and rub it with some of the rub and roast it in the oven for a great treat)
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 tsp pink salt (also known as Prague Powder #1)
1/3 cup Maple Sugar
2 Tbsp Garlic Powder
2 Tbsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
2 Bay Leaves finely crushed
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients. Place your rub into a shaker bottle for even coverage, plus it allows you to do smaller than 5 pounds at a time. Place you pork on a dry clean surface and shake your rub of evenly covering both sides. Place you newly rubbed bacon into a sealable plastic bag and place in the refrigerator for 5 – 10 days flipping it every day.
The bacon is cured when it is quite firm to the touch as this means the cure has done its job and pulled most of the moisture out. Rinse the bacon under cold running water and make sure the surface is clean of and remaining rub. Dry the bacon well and place it on a dry plate covered with a paper towel and return it to the fridge for 24 to 48 hours turning it several times to ensure all sides form a pellicle (a dry papery lightly sticky skin) as this is very important for the smoking process.
For smoking bacon I like to use my puck smoker as it is very easy to maintain an even smoking and cooking environment, but any smoker will do as long as you maintain the temp at 175 degrees Fahrenheit. Any cooler and you run the risk of bacteria growing, but much warmer and you’ll render too much fat out and it won’t get as crispy when you go to fry it up later.
Smoke the bacon with Cherry at 175 F for 2-3 hour or until the internal temp has reached 150 F. Let it cool to room temp and then refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to 6 months.
Switch things up a bit and add your cure to a couple chicken breasts and make a nice chicken “Bacon”