I feel that bacon has become a fad…Everywhere! I don’t really know how I feel about it, I am still trying to figure it out, like how are sunglasses from the 80’s coming back into fashion, and neon…? Bacon seems to be coming up in everything that we make, and honestly I like mine sliced thick and cooked in a hot skillet to get it nice and crispy on the outside. I will admit that I do make a jam with bacon and apples for my pork dish but the reality of it is, it tastes like salt and smoke. the fat can definitely pick up some great flavors, but again the most prominent flavor is the smoke. I have mimicked the flavor before by smoking cherry tomatoes, and lettuces, I know smoked lettuce sounds weird, but more creative than throwing bacon on it. To show my own personal love for bacon, here is how I make my savory style bacon, that will leave your mouth-watering for more every time.
I have had a little feedback on curing bacon with sodium nitrite and I feel that some people may not have all of the information. With the hundreds of pounds of bacon that I have made, pink salt (curing salt) is a necessary ingredient during the curing process. Not only does it prevent botulism, but the pork belly seems less salty when I did a side by side test. The fact is, you need the nitrites in the pork to help the curing process, even bacon that says “all natural” contains these nitrites, how? A mixture of celery seed or extract with salt creates nitrites, they are able to call it all natural because you are not using a processed sodium nitrite. After the whole curing process the amount of nitrites left are very minimal, after the cooking process it is even smaller. Nitrites are found in a variety of vegetables including, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, parsley, and turnips. Some vegetables have shown to contain 2500mg of nitrites such as spinach, cured meats, on average contain 10-20mg. Most research on negative effects of nitrites on humans predates discovery of nitric oxide’s importance to human metabolism and human endogenous metabolism of nitrite. It takes 71mg of sodium nitrite for it to be fatal to humans, the nitrate found in salami’s is as compound itself is not harmful, and is among the antioxidants found in fresh vegetables.
1# Kosher Salt
8oz White Sugar
2oz Pink Curing Salt (AKA Curing Salt #1)
The Rest of the Bacon
~3# Pork Belly (I prefer skin on, its cheaper and easy to remove after the bacon has cooked)
4ea Garlic Cloves
- Start by combining all of the ingredients for the cure and mixing well.
- Slice the shallots, smash the garlic with your knife and have the herbs rinsed and ready to use.
- Sprinkle the pork liberally with the curing salt mix on both sides. Be sure to rub the cure on the sides of the meat as well. Store the leftover cure in a tightly sealed container and away from other ingredients in the kitchen.
- Next lay out a sheet of plastic large enough to wrap the belly with and place 3/4 of the shallot, herbs, and garlic. Lift the belly and place the flesh side down on the herbs.
- Place the remaining ingredients on the skin side of the pork belly, sprinkle with a little more cure, and wrap the whole thing with plastic.
- Place the belly in a pan large enough to hold it and place another pan on top with some weight in it. I use large cans.
- Let this bacon sit in your refrigerator for three days.
- After three days rinse and pat dry with towels put the pork back into the fridge uncovered for 12-24 hours. This will form the pellicle.
- The next day put your pork into the smoker, I use one made by Alto-Shaam, it is a commercial smoker that heats as well. The heat is fairly moist which is fine for this application but I would prefer it to be a little dryer.
- Smoke and cook your bacon at 250°F until the internal temp reaches 150°F, this should take about 2 hours. Once the bacon is at temp slice a piece off, because I know it will be irresistible like bread right out of the oven, and enjoy it.
- Once cooled slice the bacon and sear it in a hot pan.