Bacon has been around for thousands of years. It started out long ago as someone’s attempt to preserve meat, long before refrigeration was even thought of, by curing it. Back in those days the salt was used primarily to remove bacteria in the meat that could make you sick, allowing a person to keep said meat around longer without cooking or refrigerating it. These days we have improved our culinary skills greatly and we use the curing process to give great flavor to meats. The salt used in curing extracts most of the water from the meat, and if you add other seasonings to the cure, what is left behind is a nice flavor intensified piece of meat.
My point is that if you love Bacon you will love this experience. It is not only easy and inexpensive to make your own bacon, but it beats the store bought stuff hands down. It’s so good it will make you happier than a hobo who just found a ham sammich. Everyone likes bacon, right??? Just the smell of it is enough to start your mouth watering. The smell of Bacon cooking is enough to calm a crying baby. I know some Vegetarians and Vegans who make exceptions for Bacon. Bacon is probably the closest thing I can think of to prove that God exists. Bacon is the Shit!
The first thing you need to do is go to your favorite meat counter or butcher shop and buy yourself a piece of pork belly. It usually comes in slabs about 10 – 15 inches long by 8 inches across. Make sure you get your pork belly with the skin on.
and a small amount of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix.
I usually cure mine for 7 days. I like to flip the whole package over once a day. Drain off any accumulated liquid each day when you flip it.
After a week, pull out your belly, rinse it off, and pat it dry. Leave the meat on a tray, uncovered, in the fridge for another day to develop the pellicle. The pellicle is important to the smoking process. It acts as a kind of protective barrier for the food, and also plays an important role in capturing the smoke’s flavor and color. It is important that air be able to flow around all sides.
The last step, the home stretch in this marathon of meat, is the smoking. Keep in mind that you’re only going to smoke your bacon, not cook it. Get your smoker going and heated up to 190 degrees. Do your best not to let the smoker get over 200 degrees for the entire smoking period. Put your cured pork belly in the smoker, rind or skin side up. Close the lid and smoke that bad boy for about 2 hours. Take the belly out of the smoker and while it is still slightly warm, cut off the skin / rind, leaving as much fat as possible.
cook over low heat to your desired crispiness level. It’ll keep for a week in the fridge, or months if frozen.
One last thing : when you cook your homemade bacon in the pan, you’ll have a substantial amount of melted fat left in the pan. DO NOT THROW THIS AWAY. Bacon fat is amazingly tasty, and you’d be throwing away the equivalent of gold. Instead, pour it into a heat-resistant container and store it in the fridge. You can use it for a bunch of stuff. You like fried eggs? Instead of greasing the pan with butter, try bacon fat. Next time you make popcorn, drizzle a little melted bacon fat on instead. Anything that calls for oil or butter, try bacon fat. Pastas, salad dressings, even toast. The uses are endless, as are the rewards. You may never go back.