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Unread 07-23-2011, 01:12 PM   #1
BrewerDJ
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Default 1st Shot at Bacon

So I have been wanting to try this for awhile. I've read lots of posts here about this. So I was at Restaurant Depot the other day and there in the freezer were cases of Pork Bellies...So I got one. There were 2 different brands. Hatfield & ConAgra. Couldn't find any differences on the labels so I got the cheaper one. The book I use the most is Rytek Kutas' Great Sausage Recipes & Meat Curing. For each slab (about 10# each) it is 1 cup of salt, 4 TBS Instacure #1 (Pink salt) and 1 cup Honey. I cut the skin off the slabs (That is a HUGH PIA, BTW. Anyone got a quick easy way to do that) and then put them in a tub and poured the cure all over them and rubbed it in really well. I covered it and put the whole thing in fridge. I did this Friday. I plan to rotate the bellies every day to get the cure nice and even. On Thursday I'm going to take them out, rinse them well and put them in the smoker at about 130F with some Hickory & Cherry. I think I'm going to rub some cracked Black Pepper on one and see how that goes.

So how does it sound? Any ideas?

Sorry, no pictures of the 1st step but I will have picture of the rest.
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Unread 07-23-2011, 01:49 PM   #2
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let us know how it turns out
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Unread 07-23-2011, 02:29 PM   #3
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Sounds good so far BrewerDJ. There is really no easy way of removing the skin .I usualy leave them on until after smoking them they come off real easy them.. One thing you would want to do before putting the smoke to them is dry them really well and let them sit at room temp for a couple hours until they form what is called pellicle on the outside the bacon sould be tacky and not wet at all other wise the smoke will smudge off when you handle then.... good luck ..
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Unread 07-23-2011, 02:57 PM   #4
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Sounds great. I'd have to look at my book (I have Kutas and Ruhlman) but I know you can cure and smoke the bacon with the skin (rind) on and remove after smoking. Then save it and use it in beans, greens, etc.

And yeah, after rinsing let them "dry" a while (a fan helps) until the pellicle forms.

Have fun. I've got a buckboard bacon pork butt soaking right now. Need to dry it and get it in the smoker in a while.
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Unread 07-23-2011, 05:58 PM   #5
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Certainly sounds like a good plan. I hope you did not throw the skin away though... you can make awesome crackling with that!

Anyway, the guys above are right. After the cure and soak, put them uncovered in the fridge again for 1 more day. This dries out the surface and the theory is that the smoke "just sticks better" and you get a better colour.

What I like to do do is make up a mixture of honey, apple juice, apple cider vinegar and spray that over the bacon a few times towards the end of the smoke. It brings up a sensational colour in the bacon!

Cheers!

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Unread 07-23-2011, 07:03 PM   #6
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Can't wait to hear how it turns out. I'm gonna do some bacon soon too. Love to see some finished product.
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Unread 07-23-2011, 07:31 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokinAussie View Post
Certainly sounds like a good plan. I hope you did not throw the skin away though... you can make awesome crackling with that!

Anyway, the guys above are right. After the cure and soak, put them uncovered in the fridge again for 1 more day. This dries out the surface and the theory is that the smoke "just sticks better" and you get a better colour.

What I like to do do is make up a mixture of honey, apple juice, apple cider vinegar and spray that over the bacon a few times towards the end of the smoke. It brings up a sensational colour in the bacon!

Cheers!

Bill
x 3 on the drying/pellicle thingy
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Unread 07-23-2011, 08:01 PM   #8
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Prior to the resting time, and I prefer 6 to 8 hours, I do a soak-out which is also 6 to 8 hours. You rarely see soak-out times in belly or Buckboard bacon cure methods, and hardly ever see long soak-out times.... and I've never figured out why not.

And speaking of belly bacon, I selected the newest Guest Pit Boss on my cookin' site specifically because she has an excellent handle on belly bacon in general, and also because she had developed this method using Morton's Tenderquick which is more easily available than pink salt. Here is her write-up:


Lynne’s Breakfast Bacon from Pork Belly

I am working with a fresh 5.25 pound fresh pork belly that already had the rind removed before purchasing.




The spice mix that was used for this batch of breakfast bacon is given below.








NOTE: these measurements are per pound of fresh pork belly.

1T Morton’s Tender Quick curing salt
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground or cracked black pepper
1/2 crushed bay leaf

Mix the spices together. The amount and type of spice one uses can vary according to personal tastes but the amount of Morton curing salt should not be altered.








Place the pork belly in a zip lock bag and press the spice mix into all surfaces of the pork belly. Remove as much air as possible from the bag and seal.








Place the pork belly in a fridge that has the temperature set to keep the meat in the range 34 -38 degrees F. Flip the bag over every day for 5 days. You will notice when you flip the bag for the first time that there will now be liquid in the bag, which indicates that the curing process is underway. Do not drain the liquid from the bag, this liquid brine is important to the process.

After 4-1/2 to 5 days remove the pork belly from the bag and rinse well with cold water. Place the pork belly in a large non-reactive container, fill with cold water. Let sit in the fridge for a couple of hours, drain the water and rinse again. Repeat the two hour soak out and rinse at least three more times. This is a total of 8 hours of soak out time, and 4 changes of water.

If your timetable is such that you would rather soak out the bacon overnight (10 or 12 hours), do at least 2 soak and rinse cycles. The soak cycles will remove excess salt, and don't be concerned if the bacon looks slightly pale.








Once the soaking out process is finished, dry surface areas of the pork belly and set it uncovered on a rack in the fridge so the air can flow around the pork belly. This resting time will help equalize the liquids within the meat and also help with the pellicle formation which in turn will help the smoke adhere to the surface of the pork belly. The rest (or equalization) time is a minimum of 8 hours, but can be extended to 24 hours if needed.

Usually I use maple lump and I use cherry wood for the smoking wood.








Insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the pork belly. I set up the Primo grill so that the belly is on the raised grills and have a double layer of foil on the main grill under the belly. When the grill temperature is about 140 degrees F the pork belly is put on the raised grills. The temperature is kept in the 150 – 180 degree range for 2 hours or so and then allowed to creep up to 200 degrees F over the next couple of hours and then to 220 degrees F until the internal temperature of the meat is 150 degrees F. At this point the bacon is removed from the grill.






Allow the bacon to cool overnight in the fridge before slicing.














The next step is storing the finished product. I like to divide it up into small portions and seal it in Food Saver bags before storing in the freezer. The final amount of breakfast bacon was just over 4.25 pounds








Last but not least –taste test






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Unread 07-24-2011, 12:32 AM   #9
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^^^^ Threadkiller!
There are many ways to do bacon.. But that one thirdeye posted is a damn good one!

BrewerDJ, What you have there sounds good. I have found that books usually print a fairly basic recipe.. You will find yourself doing this again.... and again, adjusting the recipe each time. (more bacon isn't a problem... I'm just saying.)
As for the skin... you'll get the hang of it after a couple. A knife really is the best way (for home) Get yourself a curved boning knife... makes they job much easier.

This is the one I have... Works great and it's fairly cheap as well.

Cheers.
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Unread 07-24-2011, 07:24 AM   #10
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I gotta try this! Where can I get the fenugreek and doe's Sams have the belles?
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Unread 07-24-2011, 08:05 AM   #11
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SO want to do this. I had no idea they had pork belly at RD! I'll have to check my store.

Thirdeye you're KILLIN me! Great post.
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Unread 07-24-2011, 02:03 PM   #12
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The soaking throws me. How much flavor is left from the original spices if you soak for so long? What if you tenderquick only, then soak, then do the spices and smoke?
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Unread 07-24-2011, 02:37 PM   #13
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Can't wait for the results. I have been taking notes on all the recent bacon threads and have tracked down some bellies at an asian market. Its only a matter of time and motivation now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by captndan View Post
I gotta try this! Where can I get the fenugreek and doe's Sams have the belles?
I have never seen bellies at Sam's but it is possible. I would call the meat department and ask them if they have them or can save you some when they are butchering the fresh meat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wampus View Post
SO want to do this. I had no idea they had pork belly at RD! I'll have to check my store.

Thirdeye you're KILLIN me! Great post.
I think I have seen them at my RD. iirc, they were just in the open, pork side of the meat cooler by the ribs and loins.
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Unread 07-24-2011, 03:17 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokeOCD View Post
The soaking throws me. How much flavor is left from the original spices if you soak for so long? What if you tenderquick only, then soak, then do the spices and smoke?
Amazing post by Thirdeye, but I got the same question. Neither book I have mention soaking, just rinsing. Of course, the first time I did bacon it came out way too salty...
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Unread 07-24-2011, 04:23 PM   #15
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Thank goodness bacon is good for you!
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