Maple Cured Hickory Smoked Bacon

Ultimate porky goodness.

I love bacon. I love how it smells, the way the crispy fat explodes when you bite it, the way it makes every thing and anything taste better, the way it permeates the house after cooking up a good batch, the usefulness, the smokeyness….the…the…. god damn everything. So I figured it was about time to go through the surprisingly easy process of making my own bacon. I headed down to my favorite butcher here in Charleston and picked up a 2 lbs. slab of pork belly (the recipe below calls for 5 lbs.). Using the handbook for cured meat, Charcuterie, I got my mise en plas ready and set forth to make the greatest thing that has ever been created in the history of man… bacon.

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. / 50 g kosher salt
  • 2 tsp / 12 grams pink salt (curing salt with nitrite that is dyed a pink color to distinguish it). Pick up the book to find out why. You can leave this out, I do now.
  • 1/4 cup / 50 g maple sugar or packed dark brown sugar. I actually used the darker molasses sugar for this
  • 1/4 cup / 60 ml maple syrup (I used a higher quality pure maple syrup)
  • 1 5-lbs. slab of pork belly (skin on or off)

Procedure

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and combine evenly. Add the maple syrup and whisk together.

Rub the mixture all over the slab of pork belly and place in a ziplock bag that is slightly larger than the slab. Place the bag in the fridge and rotate once every other day. The meat will release a fair amount of liquid which will help in the curing process. When you flip make sure to keep the liquid in contact with the pork when you place it back in the fridge. Leave the belly to cure for 7 days.

After 7 days take the pork belly out and rinse all of the cure from the meat. Pat dry with paper towels and place on a drying rack over a sheet pan. Place back in the fridge 12-24 hours uncovered. This will dry out the meat and cause the fat to have a springy almost spongy texture with the meat being firm and dry to the touch.

Hot smoke the pork at around 200°f until the internal temperature of the pork is 150°f. That should be 2 to 3 hours for a 5 lbs. slab. I actually got distracted by a work call and the fire got up to 250° f. Everything still turned out fine but try to keep it as near to 200° as possible. A probe thermometer is invaluable for these types of instances. (A 5 lbs belly will be much larger than the picture).

Once you’ve reached 150° remove the bacon and let rest for a few mins until slightly cool. If you have skin on the bacon take a knife and slide between the fat and the skin removing as little of the fat as possible. From here slice and use or refrigerate / freeze (vacuum pack or wrap in one layer of plastic wrap, one layer of foil and then place in a plastic bag) and use later. Cook it like any other bacon you’d use but remember you don’t have to cook it until it’s a burnt crisp. Enjoy what you’ve made.

—edit—

Humm I seem to have posted the un-proofread version. Fixed now. Mostly.

9 Responses to Maple Cured Hickory Smoked Bacon

  1. carlsonjok says:

    Just curious, what kind of grill is that you are cooking the bacon on and is it cooked with the lid open?

  2. It’s actually a a smoker and the lid was only open to take the photo. It’s a brinkman smoker with an offset firebox. Pretty cheapo but it gets the job done on small amounts.

    I think I picked it up at the hardware store (Lowes) for under 200 dollars.

  3. Pork is the one thing that forever prevents me from becoming a vegetarian. Healthwise, I realize the benefits of limiting (if not eliminating) meats from your diet. Intellectually, I realize the ecologic and economic problems that raising animals for food causes.

    But… pork. Damn you, pork.

    Pulled pork. Baby backs, with jalapeno jelly. Roasted pork shoulder, cooked with sauerkraut and caraway seed, served with rye bread. Bacon. Sausages. Thick pork chops, brined, and cooked until just pink when you cut them. Thin ones, cooked southern style, with onion gravy. Pork tenderloin, browned in my big cast iron skillet, then covered with maple syrup and cayenne, and finished in my oven.

    And of course, bacon. Real bacon, made from pork belly. Bits of it in warm German potato salad. Strips of it wrapped around prawns or scallops. Or just thick slices of it cooked with soft scrambled eggs for breakfast.

    I suppose I get it from my grandfather, who was German and a butcher. He had his own brick smokehouse, and put it to good use.

    Good stuff there, Reverend.

  4. GRO says:

    First thing I have to do is buy that Charcuterie.

    I’ve always assumed that bacon had to be cold-smoked. I have a very nice Cookshack SM008 smoker http://www.cookshack.com/index_product_record.php?product_id=99 and will be trying this out this week.

  5. Hi Mate

    This looks like somthiong I had hand carved at the buffet at the Wynn Hotel las Vegas. It was stunning. I wanted to ask you. Is this compleatly cooked when finished and can it be eated just warmed up like ham , or does it still need cooking. ??
    Regards
    Richard Fenton Bath UK

  6. It is cured pork belly. While you could in theory eat it like this, the better option is to pan fry it a little to render some of the fat from it and bring out a little crispyness.

  7. […] same after you throw an 11 lb slab of pork belly on the counter . The basic recipe I use came from here . Smokers can be dedicated units (Big, Little, and Mini Chief products are excellent), or as simple […]

  8. MM web design…

    […]Maple Cured Hickory Smoked Bacon « Pork and Whiskey[…]…

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