This is probably one of the most favorite renditions of pork. However, the supermarket versions of it tend to be heavily plumped with salt water and, god forbid, other liquids. This often results in a juicy bacon but you end up with a pork product shrunk down in a pool of foamy liquid in a hot pan.
The point here is that you have no idea what’s injected inside that bacon. And sometimes, you just want a thick slice of bacon.
This is your basic bacon. I don’t consider it bacon unless it’s smoked. Otherwise it’s just cured pork belly. And for my preference, cold-smoking imparts a better aroma and flavor. I’ve added the quantity for the various “styles” of bacon, but if you’re using the bacon to add to stews, fried rice etc, then the basic smoked bacon is the best option.
Pink Salt (94% Salt, 6% Sodium Nitrite) is added for preservation and bacterial inhibition. It preserves some of the color and imparts a certain flavor that some people associate with bacon. I don’t add it because pork belly is a large chunk of meat, if you get it fresh, there should be no bacterial penetration inside (quite unlike sausage). So I don’t use it but I’ve included it in case you want it.
And Pink Salt does not refer to your new age Himalayan Pink Salt. Pink Salt is colored pink to differentiate it from normal salt because too much Pink Salt is toxic.
- 500g Pork Belly, skin removed
- 50g Basic Cure (see below)
- 450g Kosher Salt
- 226g Caster Sugar (or any fine-grained sugar)
- 56g Pink Salt (Optional) (This is not your Himalayan rock salt)
This gives you 732g of Basic Cure, that stored in an airtight jar, will last indefinitely.
Maple Syrup Bacon
- 236ml of Maple Syrup, to be added with the Basic Cure
- 236ml of Bourbon Whiskey, to be added with the Basic Cure
Curing the Pork Belly
- Spread the Basic Cure in a flat pan.
- Dredge the Pork Belly through the Basic Cure.
- Rub the Basic Cure all over the Pork Belly, make sure to get the cure into the little flaps and nooks.
- Put the Pork Belly into a resealable plastic bag.
- Squeeze the air out of the bag and put it into the fridge for 7 days.
Drying the Cured Pork Belly for Smoking
- After 7 days, take the Cured Pork Belly out of the plastic bag.
- Rinse the pork belly under a running water to wash the Basic Cure thoroughly.
- Dry the pork belly with a cloth.
- Place the pork belly on a trivet and into the fridge to air-dry for at least 8 hours to develop a pellicle.
Smoking the Cured Pork Belly
- Place the cured pork belly on a trivet in a air tight box.
- Prepare the ingredients for the smoke.
- Smoke the cured pork belly, seal the box and store in the fridge for 18-24 hours.
- Remove the bacon from the smoke box.
Storing the bacon in a air-tight plastic bag will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge. The bacon is still considered raw and must be cooked before eating.
- During the 7 days of curing, liquid will develop in the bag. Turn the pork in the bag around every day to ensure even distribution of the liquid.
- After washing and drying the bacon, cut a small slice and fry it up to see if the salt level is right. If too salty, place the bacon in warm water for 20 minutes to draw out the salt. Change the water every 20 minutes until you get the saltiness you desire. Dry and leave in the fridge to develop the pellicle.
- Add the maple syrup or bourbon, if using, only after putting the bacon into the bag. Slosh it around to get an even distribution.
- Always cook the bacon before eating.
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