Thursday, July 11, 2013

Home Smoked Bacon

Home smoked bacon!  It isn't as hard as it sounds!  We did this a couple of months ago, and I wanted to share our experiences with you!  We followed Alton Brown's Homemade Bacon Recipe after watching his Good Eats show "Scrap Iron Chef."

For starters, Charlie made the cold smoker set-up that you can see below.  The box with the red contained the hot plate, a pan with wood chips and the small fan.  The fan blew the smoke through the (new) dryer vent tube into the brown box - the "protein box."  The pork belly was resting on a kitchen wire rack where you can see those little pegs sticking out about half way up the box.  That's it!  We smoked the pork belly for about 5 hours total.

 The hot plate with the wood chips.  It isn't fired up here, but it did create a great amount of smoke when it was hot. 

 The pork belly on the wire rack in the "protein box."

The finished (still raw) bacon, cut in nice thick slices.

The cooked bacon. It is crisp on the outside, and creamy and chewy on the inside.  The flavor is smokey and slightly sweet - we love it.
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup salt
  • 8 ounces molasses
  • 1/2 gallon (2 quarts) water
  • 1/2 gallon (2 quarts) apple cider (I just used apple juice)
  • 2 tablespoons course ground black pepper (I didn't use quite this much)
  • 1 (5 pound) piece raw pork belly
In a large non-reactive pot, bring half the water, 1 cup of sugar, salt, and 8 ounces molasses to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Pour into a large container with the remaining water, and the apple cider. Place in the refrigerator to cool.

Press the black pepper into the pork belly. Once the brine has cooled place the peppered pork belly into the mixture until completely submerged.  Since I had three pieces of pork belly, I divided the brine into three gallon bags, and placed a pork belly in each one.  Refrigerate for three days.

After three days have passed, remove the pork from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Lay on a wire rack over a sheet pan and place in front of a fan for 1 hour to form a pellicle. Lay the pork belly on the wire rack in the protein box (our "brown" box) of a cold smoker and smoke for 4 to 6 hours. Chill the meat in the freezer for 1 hour to stiffen for easy slicing into strips of bacon. Slice what you need and keep the remainder in a freezer safe bag in the refrigerator or freezer.

To cook, place the strips of bacon onto a sheet pan fitted with a rack and place into a cold oven. Turn the oven to 400 degrees F and cook for about 12 to 15 minutes, depending on how crispy you like your bacon. Remove from rack and drain on paper towels.  I really believe this starting-in-a-cold-oven cooking method is part of why this bacon is so delicious.  

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