Friday, June 13, 2008


As I mentioned in my previous post, I've been making bacon from scratch. If you haven't tried doing this at home yet, I highly recommend it. It is incredibly easy and takes very little time. The bacon I was smoking when I cooked the calamari was the most basic, just a standard cure of salt (50%), dextrose (40%), and pink curing salt (10%). All you do is rub the pork belly with a generous amount of the cure, put it in a zip bag and refrigerate for a week.

The part most people would consider a "deal-breaker" is the smoking. If smoking is not an option, roast it in a 200 degree oven. You could always add some smoke to your cure if your oven roasting but un-smoked bacon will still be good. The smoking can be done on any backyard grill. All you need is some tasty smoking wood, an old cast iron pan and, of course, charcoal. Build a small fire, push the coals to the side, place the pan full of wood chips directly on the fire and put the rinsed bacon as far from the fire as possible. Cover the grill and, as slowly as possible, smoke the bacon only opening the grill to add charcoal or wood. Your goal is an internal temp. of 150 degrees.

Yesterday, while making ten gallons of German hefeweizen with my friend " Jerry Mann, photographer", I smoked my next two bacon experiments. I split the pork belly and rubbed in the cure. To one half, I added a pastrami-esque spice rub of fresh cracked black pepper, cracked coriander, garlic, onion, chili flakes and probably some other random spices. To the other half, I added a 1/4 cup of fresh Ohio maple syrup to satisfy the wife's preference for a sweeter bacon. This time I smoked it with some cherry twigs instead of the hickory that I used the first time.

The results are awesome. It ends up being less expensive than store-bought and the bonus I didn't expect, it doesn't shrink when you cook it as much as the stuff from the store. I'm guessing that most bacon is brine-cured so you're buying a lot of moisture that you end up cooking out, which, I assume, is why you end up with those pathetic little pieces.

I would suggest getting "Charcuterie" by Michael Ruhlman if your interested in making all kinds of smoked and dry-cured meats.


OhioMom said...

What an interesting tutorial, I will have to say the Ohio Maple syrup would be my pick too :)

Michelle said...

I've always wanted to cure my own bacon. And I've had "Charcuterie" on my Wish List at Amazon since last year. I think my husband might put me in a straight jacket if I started smoking bacon. He about flipped out when I started canning again! LOL!!!

Ben said...

I'd be interested to try this, but I can't find anywhere in the the Cleveland area that sells pork belly. Where did you get yours from? There's actually an article in Salon this week on curing bacon, but she orders hers over the Internet. I'd prefer local if I can get it.


Sorry for the delay in responding (I hope you read this). In a perfect world you would order it from a local farmer. Since I don't have a farmer who sell pork at my market right now I ordered it from Old World Meats on E. 185th street.

Ben said...

Thanks. I've been checking back for the info. CFT suggested I try the West Side Market but, if I can't get it there, I'll go to Old World Meats (which I think is closer to where I live anyway).