How to Make Bacon
Before I cured our first bacon I did a lot of research online. How to make bacon. If you Google that you’ll get how to cook bacon and recipes using bacon but not nearly as many links to how to MAKE bacon. I probably should have used “cure” instead of make. Susy at Chiot’s Run made bacon that looked incredible. “I can do that,” I thought. If I’m going to eat bacon I want it to be slab, salty but not too salty, and I want something a little different at times. Plain, quality bacon is excellent but homemade Maple Bourbon bacon – seriously. It’s one of life’s great pleasures.
You can use pork belly from a pig you raised, bought locally, or ordered from the butcher. When we’re in danger of running out of bacon I call a local slaughter house / butcher and put in my order. If they aren’t killing pigs at the time I’ll call a small market in Lincoln that has a great meat department. They’ll order pork belly, flank steak or most anything else out of the ordinary.
No matter which flavor(s) you make, flip the pork belly twice a day to make sure all of it soaks in the brine.
I don’t use Insta Cure (pink salt). Our bacon is stored in the freezer until we use it and/or smoked. Smoking heats it to a proper temperature. Do your research and make your own decisions.
Ask to have the rind (skin) removed. You can do it but there’s no extra to have it done for you and it will, at least in my case, be smoother. I didn’t think to ask a new-to-us butcher to remove the skin on last year’s pork belly. I’d looked up how to make bacon and found myself needing to find out how to remove the skin from a pork belly. I lost some of the meat. Live and learn.
If you over salt the bacon, soak it in cold water for a couple of hours. Drain, rinse, fry a small piece and be sure it’s okay. If not, soak, drain and try it again.
Taste the Blend
If you’re mixing something like maple syrup and bourbon, taste it before you put it on the pork belly. If you don’t like it as it is you probably won’t like it later when the bacon is finished.
This recipe is for Maple Bourbon bacon. I’m tucking some suggestions in, too.
Cracked Pepper Bacon
Crack the pepper when you’re ready to use it. After patting the pork belly dry, coat it with the salt and then the cracked pepper.
I think the most common flavored bacon is Maple. You may use maple syrup or maple sugar. I prefer to salt the bacon for a day or two before adding the maple. Drain the liquid that has been pulled from the pork belly, salt it again, and then pat in the maple sugar or pour in the maple syrup. The salt will pull more liquid from the pork belly to make more brine.
How to make bacon – did you know it’s this simple!?!
How to Make Bacon
- 5 pounds Pork Belly
- 2 cup bourbon Use your favorite
- 1 cup maple sugar or 2 Cups maple syrup (not breakfast syrup, use real maple syrup)
- 1/2 cup Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon pink salt See above; your choice
- Cut the pork belly into pieces that will fit into one or two gallon Ziploc bags. Rinse each piece well and pat dry. Mix the salts if you choose to use pink salt. Pat the salt(s) onto the pork belly, covering it evenly. Don't forget the ends. I let the salt sit on the pork belly for a couple of days, drain, rinse, resalt and add the maple sugar or syrup now. If you use sugar, mix the salt and sugar together and pat in. If you use syrup, pour it into the Ziploc bag.
- Turn the bags twice a day for about a week. When the amount of liquid being pulled from the pork belly stops increasing, it's done. Remove from the bags and rinse the bacon well. Pat it dry. You now smoke the bacon to 150° internal temp in a 170° smoker, or freeze it. We keep bacon in the fridge for a week without any decline in quality. Safety first. I'm covering my bases here.
- To make slicing simple, use a sharp knife and a mostly-frozen piece of bacon. Semi-solid bacon is easier to slice than soft, pliable bacon that "gives" under the blade. Slice as thick or thin as you like.