This weekend is Father’s Day and it is the perfect time to try something new in the Bradley Smoker. Everyone loves bacon, but did you know that it is possible to cure and smoke bacon right at home? Not only is it possible, but it is surprisingly easy using the Bradley Smoker. The taste is out of this world and is the perfect gift for any dad – a freshly smoked slab of bacon!
This bacon is hot smoked, which is different than the bacon typically available in the grocery store, which is cold smoked. Hot smoked bacon it quicker to make and it actually fully cooked. The flavor has a deeper smoke flavor and sizzles up more quickly in the frying pan.
Mix the Cure Seasoning
There are 3 ingredients for the mixture that will coat the pork belly and cure it. The amount varies depending on the weight of the pork belly.
• Kosher salt – 0.35 ounces per 1 pound of pork belly
• Brown sugar – 0.25 ounces per 1 pound of pork belly
• Cure #1 (Prague Powder #1) – 1 tsp for every 5 pounds of pork belly
Weigh the pork belly and then, in a separate bowl, measure out the amount of salt, brown sugar and cure needed. Use a fork to make sure that the mixture is well mixed. Set the bowl aside until needed.
If you are smoking more than one pork belly, measure out this mixture separately for each belly. This is very important!
Prep the Pork Belly
This pork belly is about 4 pounds in size. Try and make sure you get a pork belly that has straight, even dimensions.
Trim the meat side of the belly to remove any loose pieces of fat and check to see if there is a layer of membrane. Removing the membrane allows the cure to better penetrate into the meat.
Use a fork to sprinkle the the cure mixture (kosher salt, brown sugar and cure #1) on the meat side of the belly. Try to cover all of the meat side and make sure to use all the mixture that you measured out, based on the weight of each pork belly.
Slide the pork belly into a freezer bag or foodsafe vacuum sealer bag. Remove as much air as possible from the bag and seal it.
Here are 4 pork bellies all prepped with the cure mixture and bagged up.
Place the pork bellies in the fridge so that they can cure for 4 days. Flip them every 24 hours so that the cure is able to coat each side.
After 4 days in the fridge, the bellies are cured and ready to be rinsed. Remove them from the bags and rinse them under cold water, thoroughly, for a couple minutes each.
Place the pork bellies on a rack and put them back in the fridge for around 8 hours, or overnight. This dries the pork bellies to helps the smoke get absorbed into the meat.
Once the drying is complete, get them ready to go in the smoker. They can be hooked using Bradley Smokers Sausage Hooks available here. They are perfect for hooking into the cured pork belly.
Smoke those Pork Bellies!
Set the smoker to be in the 200-225F range. As long as it stays in that range, the bacon will be great. The temperature may drop initially when the pork bellies are added to the smoker, but it should bounce back fairly quickly.
Regarding the wood choice, there are many different to choose from, when smoking bacon. You can use apple, cherry, maple, hickory, oak, pecan and more.
Hang the bellies in the smoker. Make sure that the pork bellies are not touching each other or the sides of the smoker. There is no set time for the smoking, as the doneness of the bacon is determined by the internal temperature of the pork bellies. Once they reach an internal temperature of 150-155F, they are ready to be removed from the smoker. Use a digital thermometer to monitor the temperature of the bacon.
Here is what the pork bellies look like after they reached 155F and it took a little over 4 hours to get to temperature. This was with 4 pork bellies in the smoker.
Take the bacon out and let them rest for about an hour or so. This lowers the temperature and makes it easier to remove the skin/rind of the belly.
Turn over the bacon so that the skin side is on top. Cut around the skin, so that you can get a grip and pull up the skin, removing it from the rest of the pork belly. If needed, use a knife to slice it away.
The bacon is ready! If you have a meat slicer, it is best to put the bacon in the freezer for 1-2 hours. This firms up the fat for smoother slices.
Wrap them in parchment paper or vacuum seal them in bags and throw them in the freezer. Making bacon is as easy as that!!
Enjoy!! And Happy Father’s Day!!
By Steve Cylka