First time makin' Bacon
Ok, lots of reading, and Internet searches about how to prep my first pork bellies for bacon. As many opinions as I found, you'd think I was searching for brisket ideas. So I'm on a bacon journey...I found local pork bellies at an Asian market. They had already been cut down to 2 pound slabs, but I'll take what I can get. Any at $2.29/lb, I'm not in too deep. I had the butcher remove the skin, not really knowing if that was the right thing to do. One slab ended up pretty thin at one end, not sure how that will affect cure and smoke.
3 x 2 lb slabs, and I'm off. I know there is debate on the use if curing (pink) salts, but I saw a post that made it final in my mind. It said "without curing salt, you have salted pork, but not cured bacon." I know we won't all agree, but it's my bacon, so I chose to go with the curing salts. (Blah blah nitrates, nitrites, got it, I'm a nurse, I understand). All my salt below is mixture of 1 tsp Morton's Tender Quick per cup of Morton's Kosher.
So, wet cure, or Dry??? Well, 3 slabs, lets try both. One belly in brine with salts, brown sugar, molasses. Vacuumed sealed canister. Fridge for 3 days. Why three days?? Well, many many reviews of 7 day (oft recommended) cure say WAY to salty. A few resources said 1 day/lb. and I bought the bellies Friday with Monday as my available day to smoke.
Next belly, honey rub, with coarse black pepper pressed in, followed by generous coat of salts. Vac-packed for three days. Plan to crust top with coarse pepper after rinse and pellicule (sp?) formation.
Final was also a dry cure, with equal parts salts and brown sugar. Vac-packed. Simple.
So, tomorrow is Sunday, Monday is Smoke Day. Vertical Water smoker (propane fired). Fresh apple wood chips, and planning on smoke between 175-210 until internal temp of 150, then to the fridge to cool (and call my name) until the fats re-organize themselves.
Pics and results to follow.