The Art of Homemade Smoked Bacon

Smoked bacon, the epitome of culinary delight, holds a special place in the hearts of food enthusiasts. The process of creating your own homemade smoked bacon may seem daunting, but the rewards are immeasurable. Picture yourself indulging in juicy, flavorful bacon that surpasses anything you can find at the store. In this article, I will guide you through the step-by-step process of making your own smoked bacon from scratch, allowing you to savor the satisfaction that comes with creating something truly exceptional.

Stack of homemade smoked bacon slices on peach butcher paper with text overlay - Homemade Smoked Bacon

A Bacon-Lover’s Dream

Few culinary experiences can stir up as much excitement as the creation of homemade smoked bacon. The mere thought of transforming a slab of pork belly into perfectly seasoned, smoky bacon is enough to make one giddy with anticipation. Rest assured, I’m here to share the entire process with you, so you too can revel in the joy of homemade bacon.

While I cannot claim to be the pioneer of bacon-making, I have done extensive research on the ideal cure times and the right ratios of curing salt to bacon thickness. Drawing from the collective wisdom of those who came before me, I have developed two exceptional cure recipes. I implore you to give them a try!

Cured and smoked pork belly on a wooden cutting board

The Journey to Homemade Smoked Bacon

Crafting homemade bacon is a multi-day endeavor, but rest assured, it is a journey well worth the effort. Let me walk you through the steps to help you embark on your own venture into the realm of beautiful, homemade smoked bacon.

Firstly, you’ll need to procure a piece of pork belly. The thickness may vary, but if you have access to a reputable supplier like Costco, they often carry skinned slabs of pork belly. Alternatively, you can request your local butcher to remove the skin for you, saving you both time and effort. For ease of handling during the curing process, consider dividing the pork belly into smaller portions that can fit into gallon-sized zip-top bags.

Further reading:  How to Butcher a Pork Loin for Perfect Pork Chops

The Art of Bacon Curing

Next comes the crucial step of creating the cure. In the recipe card below, you will find two exceptional cure variations: the peppered cure, perfect for adding a touch of spice to your bacon, and the maple cure, a harmonious blend of sweet and salty flavors that evokes visions of delightful breakfasts. When you’re ready to start, place the pork belly in a plastic bag with the cure and seal it tightly. If available, vacuum-sealing the bag to remove excess air is highly recommended. Allow the pork belly to cure in the refrigerator.

Curing times can vary, but a general rule of thumb is to cure your bacon for approximately 7 days per inch of thickness. During this time, make sure to flip the pork belly and massage it daily. After the 7-day mark, slice through the middle of the pork belly to ensure it is fully pink with no traces of gray. If needed, return it to the cure for another day and test again. The texture should resemble that of a well-done steak when the curing process is complete.

Sliced pork belly into bacon strips on a wooden cutting board

Unleash the Smoky Flavor

After the curing process, rinse the pork belly and return it to the refrigerator to develop a sticky skin known as a pellicle. I usually place the pork belly on a wire cooling rack positioned on top of a cookie sheet. This allows for optimal air drying, which creates a tacky exterior that helps the smoke adhere to the meat.

Now comes the moment you’ve been waiting for—the smoking process! Apple wood is my personal favorite for smoking bacon, but you can also experiment with maple or hickory for different flavor profiles. Preheat your pellet grill and aim for the lowest temperature possible (around 165 degrees Fahrenheit).

Further reading:  French Onion Stuffed Pork Loin

Place the cured pork belly on the grill grates, close the lid, and let it smoke for approximately 6 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees Fahrenheit. Investing in a high-quality thermometer is crucial for accurate temperature readings, and I highly recommend ThermoWorks thermometers for their reliability and precision.

The Moment of Truth

Once the pork belly has been smoked to perfection, it’s time to savor the fruits of your labor. Slice and fry the bacon, treating yourself to a spectacular blend of savory and sweet flavors. While the temptation to sample your creation immediately may be overwhelming, exercising patience is key. Cooling the bacon completely before slicing makes the task much easier, and chilling enhances the texture of the meat. A meat slicer can make this task even simpler, but a sharp knife will do the job just fine. If you ever feel intimidated, I invite you to try a piece of my homemade bacon—it’s sure to boost your confidence. Dare to step out of your comfort zone and indulge in something extraordinary. You’ve got this!

Smoking Bacon on a Grill

If you don’t own a smoker or prefer not to purchase one, fear not. It is entirely possible to transform your propane grill into a makeshift smoker. Follow the steps outlined below, or watch my video tutorial for a comprehensive guide to smoking on a gas grill.

  1. Prepare a smoke pouch: Purchase hardwood chips from a nearby grocery store (usually found in the outdoor cooking aisle). Shape a large square of aluminum foil into a pouch to encase the hardwood chips. Use a knife to create small holes in the top of the pouch.

  2. Ignite the grill: Turn on one burner of your grill to the highest setting and place the smoke pouch over it. Once the wood begins to smoke, reduce the temperature to medium.

  3. Cook the pork: Position the cured pork belly on the unlit side of the grill and close the lid. Allow the wood chips to smoke and smolder until the bacon reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees Fahrenheit. If necessary, replenish the wood chips if the first pouch burns out before reaching the desired temperature.

Further reading:  A Flavorful Delight: Pork and Shiitake Mushroom Stir Fry

Sliced bacon on a plate next to mashed potatoes

The Perfect Smoke

Maintaining a steady temperature of around 165 degrees Fahrenheit, the smoking process typically spans approximately 6 hours. The goal is to achieve an internal temperature of 155 degrees Fahrenheit in the pork, allowing it to cook thoroughly while infusing the meat with smoke flavor without rendering excessive fat from the belly.

Recipes for Your Homemade Smoked Bacon

Now that you have successfully mastered the art of homemade smoked bacon, the possibilities are endless. Explore some of our popular recipes here on Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ and make the most of your culinary creation:

  • Bacon-Wrapped Brats with Beer Cheese Sauce
  • BBQ Meatloaf with a Bacon Weave
  • Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Breast

In Conclusion

Congratulations! You have discovered the magic of crafting your own homemade smoked bacon—a culinary triumph that surpasses anything store-bought. The journey may have been arduous, but the end result is undoubtedly worth every ounce of effort. Remember, don’t be afraid to embrace new challenges and expand your culinary horizons. For more inspiration and culinary adventures, visit Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ. Happy smoking!