After my friend Louis told me about the bacon he used to eat while growing up on a farm, I decided that I wanted to try to make my own. I found it extremely easy to cure and smoke bacon, but it does take a lot of waiting around. The four main steps to making your own bacon are curing, rinsing/soaking, air drying, and smoking. To cure and smoke your own bacon you will need the following:
- One Whole Pork Belly (I used a 13 lb belly)
- 1.5 TB - Pink Curing Salt
- 3/4 Cup - Kosher Salt
- 2 TB - Fresh Cracked Pepper
- 1/4 Cup - Real Maple Syrup or Brown Sugar
- 1/4 Cup - Ground Coffee (optional)
- A Smoker (I use a Weber Smokey Mountain)
The first step is to cut the skin off the belly. You want to try to leave the fat but get rid of the tough skin. You can save the skin and make pork rinds, but I discarded mine. Cut off any irregular bits of the ends and square up the pork belly. Next, mix the curing salt, kosher salt, and pepper. If you're using brown sugar instead of maple syrup, throw that in with the curing mix. I experimented with the irregular end cuts by adding a bit of ground coffee to the curing mix. The bacon came out very similar to the regular cure but with a slight hint of coffee- pretty tasty. Take the maple syrup and rub down the pork belly. Sprinkle on the curing mix and place the belly into a large Ziplock bag. I placed the bag into a Pyrex dish to catch any juice if it leaked. Let cure in the fridge for 6-7 days, flipping the bag over each day. After the curing process is finished, rinse all the curing mix off of the pork belly, soak the bellies for 24 hours in plenty of water, drain, pat dry, and place on a metal rack in a Pyrex dish. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours.
After 2-4 hours dry, fire up your smoker and maintain a temperature around 200F. I added a few chunks of maple wood. Smoke the pork belly for four hours or to an internal temperature of 150F. Once the bacon is smoked, take it off the smoker, wrap in parchment paper, and refrigerate until cool. Once the bacon has rested and cooled, you can slice the bacon. I measured out 12 oz portions, wrapped them in parchment, and placed them into individual freezer bags for future use. When you cook this bacon up, it makes the whole house smell wonderful and smokey.