Home Cured Bacon
Curing your own bacon is very easy and the finished product will bring back memories of real bacon from yesteryear. Even more exciting is the fact you can add your own flavourings to the cure whether it be maple syrup, some fennel seeds, some black treacle or just a bit of sugar.
Modern supermarket bacon is injected with flavourings and water; it never really sees any smoke, even though they call it smoked bacon. All that white liquid that comes out of it as it cooks is the injected water. Real bacon isn’t like that.
Making your bacon is a two part process; curing and then smoking. Curing involves lowering the moisture content of the meat to a point where bacteria can’t live within it. Modern cures also have an additional chemical that protects from botulism-causing bacteria, sodium nitrate.
By far the easiest and safest way to cure is to buy a premixed curing salt from one of the internet vendors. Sodium nitrate is a dangerous chemical if not used in the correct quantities.
Curing takes about 5 days but depends on the thickness of your piece of pork. Follow the instructions you’ll get with your cure. The best and easiest way to cure your pork is to rub in the cure, add any additional flavouring you want, then vac pack the joint and place it in your fridge. You can mix flavourings to salt mix at a ration of 10% flavouring to 90% cure.
- 1 belly of pork or a loin of pork
- 1 portion of curing salt (follow instructions on the cure to understand the weight needed)
- Flavourings (optional) 1 or more of the following:
- Soft brown sugar
- Black treacle
- Maple syrup
- Fennel seeds
- Weigh your pork belly or loin and measure the thickest part.
- Measure out the cure based on the weight of your piece of pork.
- Mix the rub with any dry flavourings you’re going to use.
- Rub 70% of the cure into the meat side of your pork, getting it into all the cracks.
- Place your pork into a vac pac bag or a ziplock bag.
- Rub the remaining cure into rind of the pork inside the bag (it saves a lot of mess).
- Add any remaining wet flavourings.
- Put into the fridge and turn daily. Moisture will be drawn out of your pork. Cure for the time calculated from the cure instructions.
- Take your cured bacon out of the packaging and wash thoroughly in water to get any remaining cure off the bacon.
- Once cured you have bacon. You can now choose to smoke it.
- If you’re going to smoke your bacon leave your bacon in the fridge for a day to dry and get a little sticky.
- Setup your Big Green Egg to cook low and slow at 110C using the plate setter for indirect cooking.
- Soak some wood chips or chunks for 15 minutes in water. Oak, Apple or Hickory are all good for smoking bacon.
- Add the chips to the EGG.
- Place your bacon onto the EGG and smoke until the bacon reaches a temperature of 65C.
- Take your bacon off the EGG, cool and then vac pack again.
- Place back in the fridge for a few days for the smoke flavour to mellow, be patient it gets better with time.
- Slice your bacon with a knife into rashers. You may find some gristle.
- Fry your bacon in a tiny amount of olive oil.
- Serve with sliced white bread and ketchup.
This recipe hot smokes bacon. Standard bacon from your butchers is cold smoked, i.e. the bacon isn’t partially cooked. Cold smoking on the Big Green Egg isn’t possible unless you use a different way of generating the smoke such as the ProQ Cold Smoke Generator.
Having made my own bacon for a little while, my preference is to make streaky bacon. I’m still experimenting with various flavourings. So far everything has worked so don’t hold back, give it a whirl.