Friday, August 3, 2012

Homemade Bacon

Sometimes you feel like a nut. That is exactly how I felt when I undertook making my own bacon. Only people who are totally nuts would do something like this. Turns out, I was right. I am a nut. Making your own bacon is a truly pointless endeavor. Kinda like making your own beer. You can make it at home, but you can buy stuff that is way better at the store for a lot less effort. Even so, when Mark's meat CSA produced a big ol' hunk of pork belly, I knew what had to be done.  I did a lot of research about nitrate vs. nitrate-free bacon and I came to the conclusion that I don't care that much about nitrates.  However, it turns out that you have to order the nitrates (pink salt) online and I am too lazy for that.  Nitrate-free it is.  So the bacon won't be super pink, but it will still be delicious.  I'm sure all of this cheerful talk is making you want to run right out and get some pork belly to make your own bacon.  All kidding aside, this is a fairly passive exercise in curing meat.  It isn't hard to do, it just takes time and pacience.  If you've got those things (and a hunk of pork belly) you can make bacon at home and you will be super proud of yourself when you are chowing down on your very own creation.  You can change the herbs taht you use for the cure.  I've seen people use things from maple syrup to coffee, but for a first timer, the traditional items are a good start.  I would say that this was actually fun to make and it is, of course, fun to eat. 
Homemade Bacon
2 1/2 lb. pork belly
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbs. whole peppercorns
4 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic
1 sprig rosemary
2-3 sprigs thyme

1.  In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients (except the pork belly).  I smashed the garlic up pretty good before throwing it in.
2.  Rub it all over the beautiful pork belly and seal it tightly in a plastic bag. 

3.  Leave it in the fridge for 7-10 days.  Flip it over every day or so.
4.  Remove from the fridge and wash it off very thoroughly in cold water.  Once you think you've rinsed it off enough, continue to rinse it for another 2-3 minutes.  The flavors and salt have really penetrated the meat.  You don't want excess salt on the surface or your bacon will be too salty.
5.  You can finish it one of two ways:  oven or grill.
      Grill:  Heat charcoals over half of your grill, leaving the other half for indirect heat.  Place the pork belly over the indirect heat to smoke it for 2 hours until smoked through.  I turned it every 15 minutes or so.
      Oven:  Roast the pork belly at 250 degrees for 2 hours.
6.  Allow to cool before slicing thick (or thin) to make bacon.
Look at how beautiful it is!!
Fry up and enjoy.
Yum, yum, yum!

One Year Ago: Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Two Years Ago: Broccoli Salad


  1. You are insane but in all the right ways. This is beautiful.

  2. E - I have plenty of pink salt. I'll put some in a bottle and have Amanda give it to you. It's what makes it "bacon"...otherwise, it's just brined pork belly. Delicious, but lacks that realy bacony-goodness.

    I've been on the 4-5 day cure front as my first attempt with 7 days yielded an overly-salty finished product. Also, hickory smoke adds a little more magic.