Featuring the Formula for Success Curing Method
Homemade bacon will not taste like your store bought variety. And no, it will not just taste better. It will change your life! Be sure to check out the notes in the recipe below for a couple of flavor infused ideas. Enjoy!
- Pork belly, cut into workable pieces, about 3lb each is ideal***
- Curing Brine (measurements depend on project weight)***
- Water to cover pork belly(s) completely and snugly in a non-reactive brining vessel (such as a food grade pail or small cooler)
- Salt or Morton’s Tender Quick at 3% of project weight
- Sugar (light or dark brown recommended) at 2% of project weight
- .05 oz ‘pink salt’ per pound of project weight* (use only in conjunction with straight coarse sea or kosher salt. Omit if using Tender Quick!)
- Bacon is one home curing project where a cook’s creativity can really shine through! The possibilities of flavor profiles are limited only by one’s imagination. Using the basic curing brine above as the starting point, various flavors of bacon can be made by the adventurous and creative cook. Veggies, peppercorns, berries, bay leaves, lemon, garlic, seeds and, of course, Dizzy Pig spice blends, all make wonderful flavor-enhancers for home cured bacon!
- To complete the curing brine, add salt (or Tender Quick), sugar, cure (if using) and any additional aromatics, herbs, rub blends, peppercorns or seeds and boil hard for 10 minutes or until flavors are infused in brine. Inclusions for flavor can either be strained off here or left in the brine for duration of curing. Chill to 36-38°F, then add bacon slabs. Ensure they are completely covered by brine, using non-reactive weights if necessary to keep submerged.
- Cure for 5-7 days, rotating/flipping meat once to ensure complete brine coverage
- Remove from brine and pat dry, removing any clinging peppercorns/seeds etc
- Place on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet in the fridge and allow to air chill at least several hours or overnight. This will help the belly to take on smoke more evenly and effectively as well as more evenly distribute brine and flavor throughout the meat.
- Smoke over indirect fire at 200°F or as low as you can go and still get a clean burning fire. Recommended smoking woods: cherry, apple, hickory, maple or pecan.
- Smoke until bacon reaches 135°F. At this point, any rind can be cut off with a sharp knife while bacon is still warm.
- Allow to cool in the refrigerator overnight before slicing and frying for best flavor development.
*** I find most Asian markets carry pork belly cut into sections roughly this size. Pieces can be left skin-on for curing and smoking, but if they’ve been removed at the source, that is fine as well.
*** Project weight is total of trimmed meat weight in pounds, plus amount of water necessary to cover, calculated at 8.3 lb/gallon. For example, two 3-lb slabs of pork belly plus 1 gallon of water to cover would create a total project weight of 6 lb meat plus 8.3 lb of curing brine, or 14.3 lb total ‘project weight’. If still unsure of how to calculate salt/sugar/cure amounts for your particular project, read the intro to the Formula for Success and follow the in-depth instructions there.