I’ve been contemplating making bacon myself. I’m not a professional bacon maker and I don’t have a smoker, so I turned to my friend John Muhitch. A local fireman with a knack for do-it-yourself projects, Muhitch rigged a backyard smoker and has turned out several bacons.
John says good bacon isn’t hard. It just takes old-fashioned time and effort.
And good meat. John sources his from The Meat Locker, an old-time, small operation butchery in Sudlersville, Maryland. He gets a nice ten pound piece of meat for about $30, which he cures with a combination of salt and whatever spices capture his imagination at the moment.
1) Get a nice piece of pork belly, about 2 1/2 pounds. Rub it all over with 2 1/2-3 TB kosher salt and about 1/4 cup or so of something sweet like brown sugar, molasses or maply syrup. You can add a teaspoon each of spices like garlic, peppercorns, thyme, fennel, coriander or brewed coffee and liquor such as bourbon.
Set the belly in a non-reactive dish over a rack (John made his rack custom fit to a pyrex baking pan from a florescent light fixture). Seal with a lid and let sit in the refrigerator for several days to cure (about 10-14 days), turning occasionally.
2) Remove from the fridge, wipe clean and rinse. Pat dry and let it sit on the rack over a baking sheet to air dry overnight.
3) Smoke in a smoker at around 200° or oven roast on low heat (250°-300°) until it reaches an internal temperature of about 150°.
4) Chill, then slice as thin or thick as you want. You can also dice the bacon into lardons, which are excellent for seasoning greens or sautéing vegetables for a soup.
John says there are just a couple important tips:
the curing meat will absorb flavors, so you must use a ziploc bag or a completely non-reactive (glass) container with a sealed lid during the curing stage.
Don’t use the flavored charcoal from hardware stores. They are coated in chemicals. Instead, ask your local tree guy for salvaged apple, oak, hickory or cherry wood, which infuses fantastic flavor during smoking. You can buy a small smoker for about $100.
Be creative! Your bacon will be as good as your imagination. And if you mess up, you can make another one!
Here is a link to a recipe. And here too. Also check out I Love Bacon by Jayn Rockmill and Bacon: from Bacon Tacos to Bacon Mac & Cheese, 50 Sizzling Recipes by F+W MediaFeel free to share...