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Old 12-30-2012, 08:18 AM  
Fried Meat Ball! Fried Meat Ball! is offline
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Homemade bacon

Anyone ever made it?

My brother got me America's Test Kitchen's DIY cookbook (they're the peeps that do Cook's Illustrated), and it includes a good lookin' recipe for homemade bacon that they swear beats the pants off most anything you can buy... plus, since you have it in slab form (which seems to be pretty hard to find unless you order it), you can do nice things like lardons.

Anyhoo, after wandering all over the butcher shops and grocery stores in Montgomery (only one could get it, and it was $8/pound), I asked the meat manager at Publix if he could get any, and he said yes. And it was only going to be $3.19/pound. I went to pick it up this morning and the guy had made a mistake - my 5-pound order was 11.44 pounds, but it was marked at $2.69/pound. The manager said he knew that was more than I wanted, but if I'd take the whole thing, he'd take another 40 cents off per pound.

So I have 11 pounds of pork belly in my fridge, some pink salt on the way for the cure, and a box full of apple wood in my shed. And bacon will be made.

They also have a recipe for pancetta, which I'll attempt at some point, too.

Last edited by Fried Meat Ball!; 12-30-2012 at 08:24 AM.. Reason: Fixing a typo
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Old 01-13-2013, 10:00 PM   #91
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Do you need to fry/bake it after smoking or is it ready to eat?
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Old 01-14-2013, 05:15 AM   #92
Fried Meat Ball! Fried Meat Ball! is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buck View Post
Do you need to fry/bake it after smoking or is it ready to eat?
Since it's smoked to 150 degrees, it's ready to eat - hot or cold. I only smoked at about 225 for a couple hours, so t's still very fatty. If you want to render more of the fat out, it needs round in a pan.

Straight out of the smoker, it's meaty and has that awesome bacon flavor, but more the texture of a piece of steak. After it's cooled, it's more like traditional bacon.

I'll be oven frying some of it this morning for breakfast, so I'll report back then.
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Old 01-16-2013, 09:53 PM   #93
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Old 01-16-2013, 10:17 PM   #94
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Old 01-17-2013, 07:45 AM   #95
Fried Meat Ball! Fried Meat Ball! is offline
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Sorry. I've been in a bacon coma. Out of the oven, absolutely fantastic. The fat rendered really well. I don't care for super crispy bacon, and being thick cut it came out meaty and crispy on the outside. Really just about perfect.
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Old 01-17-2013, 07:46 AM   #96
Fried Meat Ball! Fried Meat Ball! is offline
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I also used some of the slab to make lardons for some parmesan pasta... holy crap, that was like manna from heaven.
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Old 01-18-2013, 02:23 AM   #97
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Old 03-30-2013, 09:23 AM   #98
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Round 2 was better than the first. Nailed the curing liquid this time, not quite as sweet (though I think the maple sugar is wasted here), the saltiness comes through better, and hickory wood is a better smoke for this than cherry.

I also roasted some in the oven for unsmoked bacon. It's good, but isn't as good to just eat outright; however, it will probably work better in recipes where you don't want that smokiness (like carbonara in place of pancetta).

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Old 05-23-2013, 02:58 PM   #99
Dr. Gigglepants Dr. Gigglepants is offline
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Just bought 2 slabs, plan on starting the cure on Saturday. Got the pink salt coming. FMB, can you recommend 2 different curing solutions? I was initially going to just cure them both in the salt, then hit one with a pork rub and leave one plain (maybe some black pepper), then smoke both with apple wood. But I see you had a fancy cure mixture...care to elaborate on it a little?
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Old 05-23-2013, 03:08 PM   #100
Fried Meat Ball! Fried Meat Ball! is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Gigglepants View Post
Just bought 2 slabs, plan on starting the cure on Saturday. Got the pink salt coming. FMB, can you recommend 2 different curing solutions? I was initially going to just cure them both in the salt, then hit one with a pork rub and leave one plain (maybe some black pepper), then smoke both with apple wood. But I see you had a fancy cure mixture...care to elaborate on it a little?
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If you've got the freezer space, I'd freeze one of the slabs. You'll learn some things on the first one that you can put to use on the second. And because of the fat content, pork belly freezes really well.

Let me pull out my instructions when I get home. But it was Diamond Kosher salt (not Morton's), cracked peppercorns, some fresh thyme, some maple sugar, pink salt... pretty basic, but darn tasty.

I would also highly recommend skinning the belly BEFORE you cure it.
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Old 05-23-2013, 03:22 PM   #101
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Well its already frozen so that would be easy, and by the quick look I got at it I would say its already skinned. Will look closer when I get home. The problem with only doing 1 slab is that my dads smoker is fairly good sized. I'd hate to go through all that for 1 slab. But I'd also hate to have 2 ruined slabs...is it easy to ruin? Were bacon noobs, but not overall rubes or anything.
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Old 05-23-2013, 04:29 PM   #102
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fire Me Boy! View Post
Round 2 was better than the first. Nailed the curing liquid this time, not quite as sweet (though I think the maple sugar is wasted here), the saltiness comes through better, and hickory wood is a better smoke for this than cherry.

I also roasted some in the oven for unsmoked bacon. It's good, but isn't as good to just eat outright; however, it will probably work better in recipes where you don't want that smokiness (like carbonara in place of pancetta).

FMB,
Very nice. You spoke of cherry not working. I do a blend of 3 parts pecan, 1 part hickory, 1 part sweet wood (apple, cherry).
It works great for me.

Ang
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Old 05-23-2013, 04:44 PM   #103
Fried Meat Ball! Fried Meat Ball! is offline
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Originally Posted by angelo View Post
FMB,
Very nice. You spoke of cherry not working. I do a blend of 3 parts pecan, 1 part hickory, 1 part sweet wood (apple, cherry).
It works great for me.

Ang
Not that the cherry wasn't good. Just that I thought the hickory was better. I generally do a 50/50 split hickory and apple or cherry.
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Old 05-23-2013, 05:07 PM   #104
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Old 05-23-2013, 05:34 PM   #105
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You'll need to adjust for the weight of your belly, but this was mine:

1 c. maple sugar (do not use white), could sub brown, but I'd use less of it
1/2 c. Diamond Crystal kosher salt
1 Tbsp cracked peppercorns
2 tsp. minced fresh thyme
3/4 tsp. pink salt
1 bay leaf crumbled
4 lb. pork belly, skinned

Everything can be modified, except the pink salt. It's important to keep that ratio so the curing salt does it's job properly.

It'll take 7-10 days to cure, and you'll need to flip it daily. Mine have taken right at 7 days. I smoked mine until it hit 150, then I took it out.
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