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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, equipment and outdoor cookin' . ** Other cooking techniques are welcomed for when your cookin' in the kitchen. Post your hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures, but stay on topic and watch for that hijacking.


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Old 09-11-2018, 11:27 PM   #1
AKMIMNAK
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Default Please share your bacon cure recipe with me

Going to try curing some pork belly this Fall for the freezer. Couple questions:

1. Will you share your best recipe and what you like about it?

2. How important is "pink salt" a.k.a. Prague powder #1? Are there other options?

3. How long can I leave pork belly in the cure? For example, if I decide to put off smoking it for a week or two after it's initial 3-5 day curing period, is that a big deal?

Any tips appreciated!
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Old 09-12-2018, 12:24 AM   #2
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I don't really have a go to, I have a bad habit, of not doing the exact same thing twice. Most bacon cures are similar until you get to the flavoring additions. Imamadman has a really good bacon tutorial thread. Just search for bacon, and you will find it. I generally push my bacon flavoring toward the pancetta realm. Add some juniper, rosemary, thyme, nutmeg, black pepper. But it is all about personal taste.

There are two schools of thought on cure #1. I am of the school, you can't make bacon without it. There are people that make nitrate free "bacon" but in my opinion they are making salt pork. Cure #1 changes flavor, texture, and color of meat. I just don't know why people are afraid of cure #1, yet they are fine eating vegetables.

If you do an equilibrium cure, an extra week, shouldn't hurt anything.

Imamadman's curing thread. I've bought books, that don't go into this much detail.
https://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/s...ighlight=bacon

Last edited by Joshw; 09-12-2018 at 12:32 AM..
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Old 09-12-2018, 02:02 AM   #3
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I've used Ruhlmans recipe for bacon a few times. I wouldn't call it stellar but IMO its better than some of the national brands.

Source:Home-Cured Bacon
(adapted from Charcuterie)

Five pounds of fresh pork belly (skin on), from your grocery store, the pork guy at your farmers market, or from a local butcher shop
Buy a box of 2-gallon zip-top bags if you don’t have a container big enough to hold the belly.
Mix the following together in a small bowl:

2 ounces (1/4 cup Morton or Diamond Crystal coarse kosher) salt
2 teaspoons pink curing salt #1 (I use this DQ Cure from Butcher-Packer, $2)
4 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
4 bay leaves, crumbled
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup brown sugar or honey or maple syrup
5 cloves of garlic, smashed with the flat side of a chef’s knife
2 tablespoons juniper berries, lightly crushed (optional)
5 to 10 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)
Put your belly in the zip-top bag or on a sheet tray or in a plastic container. Rub the salt and spice mixture all over the belly. Close the bag or cover it with plastic wrap, and stick it in the refrigerator for seven days (get your hands in there and give the spices another good rubbing around midway through).
After seven days, take it out of the fridge, rinse off all the seasonings under cold water and pat it dry.
Put it on a sheet tray and put it in the oven (put it on a rack on a sheet tray if you have one) and turn the oven on to 200 degrees F./ 93 degrees C. (if you want to preheat the oven, that’s fine, too). Leave it in the oven for 90 minutes (or, if you want to measure the internal temperature, until it reaches 150 degrees F./66 degrees C.).
Let it cool and refrigerate it until you’re ready to cook it. But I know. You won’t be able to wait. So cut off a piece and cook it. Taste it, savor it. Congratulations! It’s bacon!
Notes: If you don’t have five pounds of belly, either guesstimate salt based on the above or use the equilibrium technique I mentioned.

Pink curing salt means “sodium nitrite,” not Himalayan pink salt. It’s what’s responsible for the bright color and piquant bacony flavor. You don’t have to use it, but your bacon will turn brown/gray when cooked (you’re cooking it well done, after all), and will taste like pleasantly seasoned spare ribs, porky rather than bacony.

If you have a smoker or a grill, you can smoke the bacon (strictly speaking, it needs to have the pink salt in the cure if you’re going to smoke because, in rare instances, botulism bacteria from spores on the garlic could grow; pink salt eliminates this possibility; but I never worry about this, you’re going to cook it again in any case).

You can also, instead of roasting it or smoking, hang it to dry, in the manner of pancetta.
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Old 09-12-2018, 06:31 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AKMIMNAK View Post
Going to try curing some pork belly this Fall for the freezer. Couple questions:
Quote:
Originally Posted by AKMIMNAK View Post
1. Will you share your best recipe and what you like about it?
You are limited only by your imagination as far as additional flavors


Quote:
Originally Posted by AKMIMNAK View Post
2. How important is "pink salt" a.k.a. Prague powder #1? Are there other options?

It's a very important tool for curing, but it needs to be weighed according to the weight of the meat for proper quantities. The curing agent is simply just a tool, albeit a very important one. Once you understand the how and why to properly calculate the ingredients, the rest will fall into place. There is just no substitution for accuracy when it come to health and safety of your family when curing meats. When curing meat; the cure ingredients should always be weighed, never measured, for safety, accuracy, and consistency.

The problem with volume measurements is that they are simply just approximates. You will see recipes on the internet that call for varying amounts of cure for the same weight of meat, some call for 1 teaspoon for 5 pounds, some call for two teaspoons, and even some that call for 3 or 4 teaspoons for the same 5 pounds of meat.

So the question is, which recipe has the correct measure?

NONE OF THEM ! Simply because the ingredients need to be weighed and not measured.



Quote:
Originally Posted by AKMIMNAK View Post
3. How long can I leave pork belly in the cure? For example, if I decide to put off smoking it for a week or two after it's initial 3-5 day curing period, is that a big deal?

If you properly weigh the cure, you can exceed the cure time without fear of nitrite burn.




Finding a reliable recipe on the Internet becomes increasingly harder every day because there is a big difference between writing about curing and actually testing the recipe and doing it the proper way. There are many questionable recipes on the internet, just because they are out there, doesn't imply accuracy or safety of the resulting product(s). From many of these "bad" recipes we can clearly see that the author/poster has never properly calculated the ingredients let alone tested the final product. Having a collection of recipes on a website does not make a person proficient in the skill of curing. You have to know the How and Why of curing; you have to know the rules that dictate the process.









Last edited by IamMadMan; 09-12-2018 at 06:41 AM..
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Old 09-12-2018, 11:31 AM   #5
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^^^ What he said!
Except, I take the skin off before curing, or buy it without.
Also, I made a belly but wasn't able to smoke it for a few days so I left it curing. I forget how thick now, but I remember making a note to self to leave it in the cure for a couple days more than the recipes say. It was just better, I don't know why
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Old 09-12-2018, 11:58 AM   #6
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You're only limited to your own imagination as to what flavor profile you're after. Cure #1 is essential to curing bacon. There's no way round it. To get the proper formula, I use this website


I'm a purist and don't add a lot of other spices, seasonings, berries, or what not. I do like a little chipotle or habanero powder dusted on the bacon after curing/smoking. Occasionally I'll put some maple syrup in the vac bag before sealing it up.
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Old 09-12-2018, 06:08 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AKMIMNAK View Post
Going to try curing some pork belly this Fall for the freezer. Couple questions:

1. Will you share your best recipe and what you like about it?

2. How important is "pink salt" a.k.a. Prague powder #1? Are there other options?

3. How long can I leave pork belly in the cure? For example, if I decide to put off smoking it for a week or two after it's initial 3-5 day curing period, is that a big deal?

Any tips appreciated!



It sounds like this is your first adventure into belly bacon; the good thing is home cured and smoked bacon is almost always better than grocery store bacon, and usually comparable to (maybe better) better than custom butcher shop bacon, if you even have a high end shop in your area.

1. Best recipe is in the eye (uh, or mouth) of the beholder. I prefer cracked pepper as one of the signature flavors, but some like garlic, fenugreek or bay leaf.

2. You do need a curing blend. One option is a blend based on pink salt, the second option is a blend based on Morton's Tender Quick.

3. Curing time is based on meat thickness. Bellies with skin removed will take 5 to 7 days. I move through the process without a long delay like you mentioned between curing and smoking. But... I use a soak-out step, then rest overnight in the fridge (equalization step) before smoking. So from start-to-finish I would allow 7 days, maybe 8.

I use both types of cure blends I mentioned in (2), and am satisfied with either. In 25 years of making bacon I've never done a side-by-side comparison. The advantage of Tender Quick is: It's readily available and the blend comes pre-mixed using a proven technique which is very consistent. Beginners or people that cure infrequently often use it. Pink salt is used by the pro's or advanced home curing folks. All weights (meat and cure) must be weighed accurately as it is possible to use more than the recommended amount.

Here is a link to article on my COOKIN' SITE and a Tender Quick recipe. It will walk you through the basic steps that most techniques will call for.
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Old 09-12-2018, 06:41 PM   #8
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I looove the thick cut Kirkland bacon from Costco. It is high quality and priced nearly as cheap as they sell raw belly for.

I made my own bacon out of costco pork belly about a month ago, ate it all, then went back to the Kirkland brand again....disappointment set in. If they dont use liquid smoke, however they smoke the bacon results in hints of liquid smoke flavor that was not present in the belly I cured, and it kind of ruined their bacon for me. I just never detected it before as I hadnt really tried the two back to back. Which I suppose is both a good thing and a bad thing.
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Old 09-12-2018, 09:57 PM   #9
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Thank you! This is all super helpful....and a little intimidating.

I suppose anything worth trying takes some effort, and this is no different.

Thanks for all the detailed help! I much appreciate it. If I go forward with it, I'll report back :)
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Old 09-14-2018, 08:37 PM   #10
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Default Skin-On vs Skin-Off Pork Belly

So, here's my dilemma:

Skin-On: $2.79 / lb
Skin-Off: $5.49 / lb

I'm estimating the skin is about 1/3 of the package weight? I smoked a pork belly a few weeks ago and that seems about right.

Given that, and the effort involved in removing the skin, would you be willing to pay double for skinless?

Is there something I can do with the skin (cracklins?) if I buy the skin on?

What would you do?
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Old 09-14-2018, 08:41 PM   #11
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I always get skin on when available. I love chicharrones though. 1/3 of the weight seems a little high to me. You must be getting some thin bellies.
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Old 09-14-2018, 10:36 PM   #12
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I always get skin on when available. I love chicharrones though. 1/3 of the weight seems a little high to me. You must be getting some thin bellies.
Do you make chicharrones by first separating the skin and cooking it separately, or separating it at the end and doing something extra to it? Would love to try making these too. Do share :)
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Old 09-14-2018, 10:58 PM   #13
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Do you make chicharrones by first separating the skin and cooking it separately, or separating it at the end and doing something extra to it? Would love to try making these too. Do share :)
I always remove mine in the beginning. It isn't that hard, with a good filet knife. I'm not sure how the cure would affect the skin, but it is possible that you could do it after you smoke the bacon. You actually want to dry the skin out as much as possible before frying, just a matter how the cure will affect it.

I have seen people boil the skin, and let it dry, before frying. I have also seen people boil then dehydrate them. I just filet as much fat off as I can, and smoke it. Then cut into pieces and fry in lard. Here is a link to the Pork Belly TD where I did some. Look toward the end of my entry. They are pretty simple.
https://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/s...=252278&page=2

You mentioned cracklings. They are done the same way, but in my world cracklings are the entire belly, cut into cubes then fried until crisp.

Another great use for the skin, is after it is smoked, cut it into small pieces, and put it into chili or beans. Do it once, and it just won't be the same without it.
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Old 09-15-2018, 09:34 AM   #14
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My family’s favorite is Cowgirls recipe! We love the stuff. The cayenne is where its at!
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Old 09-15-2018, 08:23 PM   #15
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I always remove mine in the beginning. It isn't that hard, with a good filet knife. I'm not sure how the cure would affect the skin, but it is possible that you could do it after you smoke the bacon. You actually want to dry the skin out as much as possible before frying, just a matter how the cure will affect it.

I have seen people boil the skin, and let it dry, before frying. I have also seen people boil then dehydrate them. I just filet as much fat off as I can, and smoke it. Then cut into pieces and fry in lard. Here is a link to the Pork Belly TD where I did some. Look toward the end of my entry. They are pretty simple.
https://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/s...=252278&page=2

You mentioned cracklings. They are done the same way, but in my world cracklings are the entire belly, cut into cubes then fried until crisp.

Another great use for the skin, is after it is smoked, cut it into small pieces, and put it into chili or beans. Do it once, and it just won't be the same without it.
That cook looks awesome! Question: If you are making bacon (as opposed to burnt ends) would you have to smoke and fry the skin the same day you separate it from the belly, or could you throw it in the fridge in its own bag for 5 days while waiting on the belly to cure, then smoke them together?
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