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View Full Version : Bacon Questions - I'm looking at you, thirdeye!


gtr
11-27-2011, 11:59 PM
So I'm looking at thirdeye's bacon

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v377/thirdeye2/Barbecue%2014/DSC02409aaa.jpg

And at my bacon

http://i1220.photobucket.com/albums/dd450/gtrbbq/baconslices.jpg

Thirdeye's looks much better to me. From what I've gathered being on this site (and his awesome blog), thirdeye is a master at this stuff. I've made bacon 3 times, so obviously I'm not.

I'm wondering if the difference in color is due to the curing process or the smoking process or both. I cured for about 7 days (maybe 8? not sure - I went a day longer than planned due to life getting in the way) with a basic cure (from the Charcuterie book). No significant amount of liquid leached during the curing process. The last 2 times it did. I used maple syrup & brown sugar the first time and honey the second. This time the only other thing I added was pepper.

Anyway, I smoked with hickory and apple, keeping the cooker temp between 135-150 until I hit around 127 IT. The recipe called for taking it to 127 and lowering the temp and smoking until desired color is reached, but I didn't want to go any darker so I took it off.

The bacon has good flavor, but is a little chewy as opposed to crisp. Is this due to curing too long? Definitely good enough to make me want to keep doing it but just wondering what I can do differently next time & interested in hearing thoughts from anyone.

yelonutz
11-28-2011, 12:44 AM
GTR, curing is not just time but also temp. Do you know what temp your fridge was running? When you say recipe, whose did you use?

NUTZ

Phrasty
11-28-2011, 12:51 AM
Just thinking out loud here... well kinda not but I was wondering is Thirdeye's bacon cold-smoked?

SmokinAussie
11-28-2011, 03:23 AM
GTR, I think your bacon looks great and, of course... so does Thirdeye's

What really matters is the taste. I've done bacon now about a dozen times and each time I get a slightly different result. I've had lots of serous fluid come out at time, and other times, had very little. Sometimes, too sweet, sometimes too salty, but always good, and always better than what you get from a supermarket.

I think its a bit early to be comparing with the Master (Thirdeye). Just have fun and eat the results... and write down what you do every time. That way, if you hit on a winner, you should be able to repeat it.

Now, If I just hadn't lost my notes recently, I'd be on a winning formula myself!:doh:

Cheers!

Bill

thirdeye
11-28-2011, 04:52 AM
Thanks for the kind words...... I don't see anything wrong with your bacon, and I'll toss out a couple of things that might answer your questions.

Color is mostly due to the amount of protein (myoglobin) in the meat and next would be the cooking temperature. The more protein, the darker the meat. Protein is not constant to one type of animal, or even to one muscle group. I'll bet that's why one area of your bacon is darker. (I see the same thing on the rib end of a pork loin when I buckboard it). Using your smoker in the 160 to 175 range for a while will set a different color than trying to smoke it at 250 the whole time.

Take a look at the slices of bacon in the background of my picture, those slices have a different color than the ones in the foreground. Both were cured at the same time, same temp, with the same cure, and smoked at the same time. I bought two pieces of belly, one forward and one rear section.... but I doubt they were from the same pig.

You didn't mention your recipe, how long your soak out was, or how long you rested (equalized) it before smoking....... I cured this batch with a Tenderquick cure for 5 or 6 days, used an 8 hour soak out, and an overnight rest.

The chewiness can be animal dependant, just like one T-bone might be tougher than the next one. Thinner slices can change tenderness. Also letting the slab age for a couple of days in the fridge, and being really cold when it's sliced can help too. A sharp knife or slicer is also a factor.

Anyways, it boils down to consistency, a good recipe and not taking shortcuts once you find your self on the right track. By the way, even though I'm no stranger to curing, brining, etc., I'm not close to expert status. In fact, the particular recipe I used for this batch of bacon came my way from a friend in Canada. I liked the results so much I asked her to do a Guest Pit Boss article on my cookin' site. You can read the whole deal here (Lynne is also a much better photographer than I am, and she doesn't miss many details in her article)

http://playingwithfireandsmoke.blogspot.com/2002/10/lynnes-breakfast-bacon.html

gtr
11-28-2011, 09:53 AM
GTR, curing is not just time but also temp. Do you know what temp your fridge was running? When you say recipe, whose did you use?

NUTZ

The cure was from a book called Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing (damn good book btw). I made a large batch of basic cure:

1#/450g Kosher salt
8 oz/225g sugar
2 oz/50g instacure #1

Obviously I didn't use all this on the 5 or 6# slab of belly - I just coated it real good and shook off the excess. Fridge is in the garage, therefore not opened often and right now is running at around 38.

Just thinking out loud here... well kinda not but I was wondering is Thirdeye's bacon cold-smoked?

That's one thing I don't like about living in SoCal - it'll never get cool enough to cold smoke for any significant amount of time :doh:. I've been wanting to do country ham the way my great grandfather did, but it ain't happening in these parts.

GTR, I think your bacon looks great and, of course... so does Thirdeye's

What really matters is the taste. I've done bacon now about a dozen times and each time I get a slightly different result. I've had lots of serous fluid come out at time, and other times, had very little. Sometimes, too sweet, sometimes too salty, but always good, and always better than what you get from a supermarket.

I think its a bit early to be comparing with the Master (Thirdeye). Just have fun and eat the results... and write down what you do every time. That way, if you hit on a winner, you should be able to repeat it.

Now, If I just hadn't lost my notes recently, I'd be on a winning formula myself!:doh:


Cheers!

Bill

Thanks! I've definitely been having fun - even my first few shots at this I've gotten bacon that is better than most of what I'd get at the store - I've been buying a lot less, and I haven't bought commercially prepared sausage in over 2 years now.

Thanks for the kind words...... I don't see anything wrong with your bacon, and I'll toss out a couple of things that might answer your questions.

Color is mostly due to the amount of protein (myoglobin) in the meat and next would be the cooking temperature. The more protein, the darker the meat. Protein is not constant to one type of animal, or even to one muscle group. I'll bet that's why one area of your bacon is darker. (I see the same thing on the rib end of a pork loin when I buckboard it). Using your smoker in the 160 to 175 range for a while will set a different color than trying to smoke it at 250 the whole time.

Take a look at the slices of bacon in the background of my picture, those slices have a different color than the ones in the foreground. Both were cured at the same time, same temp, with the same cure, and smoked at the same time. I bought two pieces of belly, one forward and one rear section.... but I doubt they were from the same pig.

You didn't mention your recipe, how long your soak out was, or how long you rested (equalized) it before smoking....... I cured this batch with a Tenderquick cure for 5 or 6 days, used an 8 hour soak out, and an overnight rest.

The chewiness can be animal dependant, just like one T-bone might be tougher than the next one. Thinner slices can change tenderness. Also letting the slab age for a couple of days in the fridge, and being really cold when it's sliced can help too. A sharp knife or slicer is also a factor.

Anyways, it boils down to consistency, a good recipe and not taking shortcuts once you find your self on the right track. By the way, even though I'm no stranger to curing, brining, etc., I'm not close to expert status. In fact, the particular recipe I used for this batch of bacon came my way from a friend in Canada. I liked the results so much I asked her to do a Guest Pit Boss article on my cookin' site. You can read the whole deal here (Lynne is also a much better photographer than I am, and she doesn't miss many details in her article)

http://playingwithfireandsmoke.blogspot.com/2002/10/lynnes-breakfast-bacon.html

I did a good rinse rather than a soak and let it sit for several hours (don't remember exactly how much, but I'm thinking somewhere around 5 or 6). I haven't tried TQ for bacon yet, but will next time - I was looking at that recipe on yer site and that's most likely the next recipe I'm going to do. Also, my regular butcher was having a hard time getting good size slabs of belly so I got this slab at RD, which I guess is fine but I doubt is of the same quality that I get at my usual butcher.

Truth be told, however, it's some pretty damn good & I'm happy with it - just seeing how I can elevate it.

Thanks y'all!

thirdeye
11-28-2011, 12:45 PM
Yes, Charcuterie is a good book. Without the maple syrup is looks like the base recipe for 5 pounds of bacon you followed totals 112g. (or 22.4 grams per pound). So that will give you a starting point on another batch. Eyeballing a sprinkling of cure can be deceiving.

You can try a tray of ice cubes below your bacon to help keep the smoker temp down. I do that with cheese all the time. Or you can just build a really small fire and deliver low temp smoke for a couple of hours, then remove the bacon and start a larger one to finish it off.

A soak-out is not mandatory, but it's one step that can really mellow your product. I've never figured out why so many authors and recipes skip over it without at least giving you the option to use it...... I mean you have already invested a week in the prep, what's a few more hours?

buccaneer
11-28-2011, 05:33 PM
I thanked thirdeye and would just like to add to his most excellent point, just in case any brother brushes over the significance of it because it relates strongly and significantly to many of the questions.
On consistancy: If you were ever lucky enough to see the footage of Robuchon, the greatest chef in our lifetime, answering the question on what was the hardest, most frustrating thing abot training chefs, it would be driven in to your psyche.
He really went off.
His point was, getting them to taste the food EVERY TIME they cooked a dish.
Here is the point I want to reinforce.
In agriculture, in organic life, no two things are the same.
We assume what a habanero tastes like but every one on he bush has the same chance of being different, and on a bush you DO get ones that are not anywhere near as hot as the "average".
So it is with meat, one will contain lots of fluid where another won't.
One will be darker.
The dark matter isn't only myoglobin but IS directly related to myoglobin, the red colours are cytochromes, hemoglobin, iron,... and myoglobin represents about 0.3% in beef muscles for example.
Now the darkness increases according to the workload of that specific animals conditions and workload, because it increases the volumes of these elements so they can facilitate oxygen supply to the working muscle fibres.
TMI?
Maybe, but it helps understand cooking of breast meat vs legs and so on, and also why there is colour differences when using the same recipe and method.

I am still a beginner and am so happy to learn a lot from everyone, just chiming in with stuff I can help with on the path.
Bill made sound points of not getting too caught up in consistancy.
It is that very demand that makes commercial suppliers complelety nullify any natural traits of pork and load it with a consistant flavour that has nothing to do with that piggie but instead has all to do with industrial chemistry and industrial vats.
Anything we make is a vast improvement.

viper1
11-28-2011, 07:36 PM
Well to me it looks like very nice bacon. My only change would to cook to it of 140-145 for at least 30 minutes. Just to get past the bad zone were botulism and all come from.
But the Bacon looks very good!