Every few months Kyle finds some excuse to buy a huge hunk of pork belly and transform it into sweet, smoky bacon. Not that he really needs one; Emily always approves. We eat some, freeze some, and give some away. And why not? It’s super simple, and super impressive. Just try handing someone a butcher paper-wrapped slab of home-cured bacon. They’ll be impressed. We promise.
Honestly, this is a really simple recipe. All it takes is patience, and a little room in your fridge. If you can use a food scale and keep that pork belly safe in the fridge for a week, you can make bacon.
We usually triple this recipe and then freeze two slabs for later. There’s absolutely no reason not to have home-smoked bacon on demand but we’ll give you some reasons to have it: bacon and eggs for out-of-towners crashing at your pad, BLTs with tomatoes from the farmers’ market, a bacon-filled green-bean casserole as your addition to a potluck, or bacon cheeseburgers on the grill. The possibilities are endless.
A word about not dying: Pink salt (a.k.a curing salt) which is table salt with sodium nitrate and pink coloring added is called for in this recipe. It’s been used forever and works wonders when you are letting meat sit in your fridge for a week. Essentially, it will eliminate water in the meat, thus eliminating the chances of bacteria growing. This is much different from a Himalayan pink salt, and is lethal in large doses, so use the ratio called for in the recipe. You should be able to find it at many butcher stores and it is available from a variety of online specialty stores. Don’t spill it and lick it off the floor, and definitely don’t let your dog lick it up.
1 5-pound pork belly
2 ounces kosher salt
2 teaspoons pink salt
⅓ cup brown sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup whiskey
To cure the bacon, mix the salt, pink salt and brown sugar in a small bowl. Rub the salt mixture all over the outside of the pork belly, pushing it into the muscles and fat with your fingers. Place the pork belly in a freezer bag and add the maple syrup and the whiskey. Remove as much air from the bag as you can and seal. Using your hands, mix around all of the curing ingredients and place the bag in th refrigerator. Allow it to cure for 7 days, turning daily.
To smoke the bacon, set up your smoker (or oven) to cook at 225º. Cook the pork belly until it reaches an internal temperature of 150º, roughly 90 minutes to 2 hours depending on how thick your belly is and how cold it is when you begin cooking it.
By all means, cut off a little bit of the bacon and give it a taste, but then refrigerate it. Cut off slices as needed and treat it just as you would bacon from the grocery store.