Homemade Bacon! (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

I'm almost embarrassed to say that I've just recently discovered the wonders of homemade bacon, despite having a food blog for four years. No, scratch that, I am embarrassed! It really is sad, and I repent here and now for all the world to see.

For some reason making homemade bacon is shrouded in some sort of strange and mysterious veil of complexity. Once you see how easy it is it's like you've been smacked in the head with a clue-by-four. This compounded my embarrassment.

My friend Meathead over at AmazingRibs.com (a great barbecue site, by the way) wrote the following, and he's absolutely correct.
Makin' bacon is surprisingly easy and the results are quantum leaps better than the stuff from large commercial producers. Once you have the basic recipe down, you can vary the ingredients to make a flavor profile to suit your taste. It is a simple two-step process: (1) Curing, and (2) smoking.
Here, let me show you how easy this is. My recipe is simpler than Meathead's, but the results are incredible.

2 lbs Pork belly
2 Tbsp Morton® Tender Quick®

About the pork belly: Get the best that you can find, preferably locally-sourced and all-natural.

Homemade Bacon! (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

Unwrap the belly, rinse it, then pat it dry with paper towels.

Homemade Bacon! (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

Homemade Bacon! (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

Sprinkle the Tender Quick® evenly over the entire outside of the belly (don't forget the edges), put it in a gallon-sized zip-top bag and seal, removing the excess air. Refrigerate seven to ten days, turning and massaging the bag every two days or so.

Start your smoker and prepare for indirect cooking at low heat (about 225-250º). Use whatever smoke wood you like. I used a blend of 2/3 hickory and 1/3 cherry which worked beautifully.

Remove the pork from the zip-top bag, rinse well under cold running water, and pat dry with paper towels.

Homemade Bacon! (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

Smoke the belly indirect until it reaches an internal temperature of 150º. Remove it to a plate, rinse under cold running water (to help cool it quickly). Pat dry with paper towels, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate. It'll keep in the refrigerator up to two weeks.

Homemade Bacon! (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

Slice, cook as you normally would, serve and enjoy!

Now that you have some killer bacon, go make yourself some pig candy.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
Looks...simple! So,wait. Is that final "up to two weeks" part of the process, or the shelf-life? In other words, should I wait two weeks until I slice it, or do I have up to two weeks to slice and consume it?
Blogger John Dawson said...
Thanks for the heads-up. I've clarified/corrected that part.
Anonymous Anonymous said...
it's even better when you wait 12-24 hours after rinsing, leaving the bacon to become slightly sticky on the outside - lets the smoke stick better and the flavours develop. Also great if you add some herbs and spices to the dry rub. We like garlic, bay leaves and some juniper berries rubbed in with the curing salt.
Blogger Elias said...
Does it freeze well? Like can you cut it into 1/2lb sections maybe and freeze to use and slice later?
Blogger John Dawson said...
Elias - Yes, it freezes just fine. I'd say that it's probably good for at least a couple of months.
Very interesting, I never thought about making my own bacon. Sounds wonderful.
Anonymous Brian Meagher said...
I can't believe it's that easy! Thanks. This is a "must try" recipe.
Blogger Chris said...
Hey John this is Alexis, Chris' wife. I told Chris tonight that we needed to try this after watching BBQ Pitmasters. Then we find this post! Pinning it:)
Blogger John Dawson said...
Hey Alexis! Thanks for stopping by for a bit of serendipity. :-)
Anonymous Louise said...
is it better to create your own ham? how about the budget?
Blogger Unknown said...
Do you recommend removing the skin from the fat cap or leaving it on?
Blogger John Dawson said...
Aaron - You can go either way, but I'd remove it. If you leave it on the smoke doesn't penetrate as well.
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I don't have a refrigerator, I live kinda simple that way. I have to drive into town just to use this computer. Once the cure is on does it really need to be refrigerated or just in a cool place?
Blogger John Dawson said...
Anonymous - No fridge? Wow! The pork must be kept at 38º or colder for the entire curing time.
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Why are using sodium nitrate when you can make it
much more healty with salt ????
Blogger John Dawson said...
Anonymous - I'm just devious like that. Plus, sodium nitrate is a preservative, so it'll preserve me. Cool, huh?
Anonymous Anonymous said...
@ Anonmous The Sodium Nitrate prevents bacterial growth during the cold smoking process. Nitrate salts have been used in the curing of meats for centuries if not millenia. To not use Nitrate on a meat the will be kept in a 200 degree environment for hours can be very dangerous.
Blogger John Dawson said...
Anonymous - Actually, salt also retards bacterial growth. Meat has been cured in salt far longer than in nitrites/nitrates. There's nothing wrong with curing with salt.
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Had anyone ever made a coffee chili bacon? I want to try this and a blackberry chipotle bacon. Woukd i just robot coup canned chipotles and blackberrys and rub the belly in salt and add the blackberrys and chipotles to the bagband let it brine? The coffee one woukd probably be all dry with the exception of the water pulling out of the pork
Blogger John Dawson said...
Blackberries are so 2009 :-P
Anonymous Anonymous said...
No nitrates for me. Use salt.
Blogger John Dawson said...
Anonymous - You go, girl!

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