Maple Brown Sugar Bacon
Making bacon at home is so easy and tastes much better than the ones you buy from the grocery store. I have had some good bacon, but being able to add the flavors to your own bacon is awesome. Some premium bacon can run $12.99 a lb. at the grocery store, this entire cook probably cost me $20 for 5lb's of bacon. It is inexpensive to make and fun to do. On top of everything, you can customize the flavor of the bacon you make.
5lb's pork belly with skin off
60 grams Kosher Salt
45 grams brown sugar
30 grams pink curing salt/ Sodium nitrate
15 grams fine black pepper
Now the ratios for meat to salt and other ingredients go by percentage of weight of the meat. 5lbs of pork belly is 2.5 kilos = 3000 grams.
Kosher salt you want to calculate 2% - 2.5% of weight to Kosher salt = 60 - 75 grams. Now I have done the 2.5% and did notice it was a bit salty for my taste. Keep in mind, we are adding 1% of pink curing salt into the recipe. So in this recipe, I lowered the sodium and soaked the pork in water for 1 hour after curing. Soaking in water allows some of the sodium to remove from the meat.
Ratios of ingredients per weight of meat
1.5% Brown Sugar
1% Pink Curing Salt/Sodium nitrate
.5% Fine Black Pepper
Measure out your curing seasoning to the weight of pork bell you have. Mix well and drizzle some maple syrup on the pork belly and season with your curing mixture.
Be sure to cover the pork belly on all sides, and place in a large plastic bag.
Let the pork belly cure for 7-10 days and flip on it's other side daily.
As time goes by, you will notice a lot of moisture being removed from the pork into the bag.
After the pork belly has been cured for at least 7 days, remove from plastic bag and rinse off any curing mixture.
Place in a tub and submerge with cold water and let sit for 1 hour. If you want a less saltier bacon, let it sit in the water for a bit longer.
Place on a tray with a rack and place in the refrigerator for one day to remove any excess water from the pork belly.
Smoking the Bacon
There are 2 ways I have learned how to smoke bacon.
1) Cold smoke = smoking the pork belly with wood chips or pellets for 4-5 hours at a temperature of 80 - 100 degrees.
2) Hot smoke = Smoking the pork belly at temperatures below 200 degrees. Most pellet grills have a smoke feature to allow low temperatures under 200 degrees and producing a lot of clean smoke. In my Pit Boss Austin XL, the P6 setting runs about 170 to 190 degrees, but stays in the 180s consistently. This process is a bit faster but be sure to not go over 145 degrees internal temperature on the pork belly. You do not want the pork belly to get too hot where it is rendering fat. So once your pork belly hits 145 - 150 degrees internally, the hot smoking process is done.
All we are doing at this point is adding some smoke flavor and color to the pork belly.
Once the color and smoke has been achieved, remove the pork belly and let it come to room temperature. Place in container or plastic bag and chill in the fridge overnight.
Slice your bacon and enjoy!