Friday, July 1, 2011

maple bacon

here is something i can hardly believe myself
i shunned bacon
for 5 years
it was complicated
and in hindsight
i mean really
religious convictions aside
i can't think of a reason NOT to eat it
it is 
just. that. good.

curing my own bacon has elevated to
obsession status
a few bats of my baby blues
 hubster agreed to buy a smoker

it was time
he is itching to make venison jerky
and of course
i have my bacon thing

here is my first attempt
and an honest report
it is good
i made the mistake of washing off the brine, but not soaking the bacon before smoking
which meant
it came out very salty
i soaked it after the smoke
in desperation
which meant
i not only soaked out the salt, i also soaked out the smokiness
so i cold smoked it again
and it just isn't perfect
but it is close
maple-brown sugar-rosemary bacon
3lbs pork belly
1/4 cup +/- kosher salt
1/4 cup +/- brown sugar
3 Tbs good quality maple syrup
1 Tbs fresh rosemary
place pork belly in a large tupperware type container
3 Tbs maple syrup & rosemary sprig (post curing)
apple or cherry wood chips for smoking
rub all sides with salt
mix together the brown sugar, maple syrup and rosemary. rub all sides of the pork belly with the mixture. cover and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours.  after 24 hours, repeat the process and place back in the refrigerator.  check daily, if liquid begins to gather on the bottom, pour it off and place back in the refrigerator.  at 5-7 days, you should be done. the pork belly will be a bit more dense, and firm.  rinse the pork belly well and dry with paper towel. slice off a small piece and fry.  if too salty, place the belly in a bowl of cold water and place in the fridge for 1 hour. dry, slice off a piece and fry a piece.  if it is still too salty, repeat the soaking process, 1 hour at a time.  once the bacon is to your liking, dry off.  rub the fatty side with maple syrup and place rosemary sprig on top. 
meanwhile prepare your smoker
i smoked my bacon at 120 degrees and smoked it to an internal temperature of 130.  there are so many different philosophies on this. you can cold smoke it, hot smoke it, not smoke it at all.  this will not keep in the fridge like store bought does not have nitrites.  it is best to cut what you will eat within a week, then freeze the rest.
it is very important to keep your pork belly at proper temperatures and to keep all surfaces it touches very clean. this is not a time to be lenient in your sanitary rituals.  bacon should not be eaten raw, once cured and smoked, it should be cooked fully before enjoying.


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