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07 August 2013

Technique: Makin' Bacon


Your bacon has a dark secret. No, I don't mean the additives that a lot of companies pump in or the fact that there is enough salt in there to turn the Great Lakes into another ocean. No, the secret is your bacon is a thief. That's right, you've been robbed blind. $7.99 for a package of Center Cut porky goodness with a certain famous first name? No. Thank. You. Bacon is so easy to make, and so cheap to do, why waste your money on mass-produced bacon of questionable quality. Once you make your first slab you will never go back.

I'm going to tell you how to do a savory cure, but you can also do sweeter breakfast cures. What you will need are:

3 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon sodium nitrite (also called pink salt, but don't confuse with Himalayan pink salt)
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 bay leaves, crumbled
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon coarsely ground juniper berries (optional)

3-5 pounds Pork Belly

You can get pork belly from most butchers, many grocery stores, and just about any Asian market. I prefer doing about 3 pounds at a time, but that's more of a space issue. If you can, go with ossabaw belly. This heritage breed has, in my humble opinion, the best bacon makin flavor.


Bacon is salt cured. In essence, you are "marinating" the belly in the salt cure. Combine all the ingredients and liberally coat the belly in a 2 gallon zip top bag. Remove as much air as possible and place in a container in the fridge. Every morning when you go to grab the milk for your coffee, flip it over. 7 days later guess what.....it is cured! You are one small step away from bacon.


Remove the bacon from the bag and rinse well, removing as much of the cure as possible, and pat dry.

At this point you have two options. Option one is to smoke it. If you want to go this route you want to  get the wood of your choice (Apple and Cherry are my favorites) and get the smoker to 200 degrees. You want the bacon to reach an internal temp of 150 degrees.

Option two is to roast the bacon. If you go this direction preheat your oven to 200 degrees, and roast till an internal temp of....you guessed it....150 degrees. This should take about two hours.



Once you have smoked/roasted your bacon, take a knife and run it along the bottom of the belly to remove the fat cap. DO NOT DISCARD! This will make an excellent stock, I promise you.

One your bacon has cooled you can wrap it up in cling wrap and keep in the fridge for two weeks (like it will last that long) or freeze for 3 months. Simply carve off 1/8 inch slices or 1/2 inch lardons and sauté until the fat is rendered. That is it. Now, do me a favor, and skip over the mass-produced factory bacon with the funny name.

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