On my kitchen wall I have a sign that says “Bacon makes everything better!” I do agree with this statement for the most part. Umami is the key to why bacon and Parmesan cheese are so fantastic tasting.
Glutamate compounds in these foods are flavor enhancers. When you put Parmesan cheese on your pasta or add bacon to a grilled cheese you are bumping up the flavor of everything else in the dish.
I had not made my own bacon because I figured it would be difficult or time consuming. This is not the case. In fact curing pork belly for bacon is one of the easiest ways to start learning how to cure meats.
Make sure you use pink curing salt to ensure your pork belly is safe after a long marinade and smoking at a low temperature. I have included a link for buying pink salt at the end of the post.
It is surprisingly easy to make your own bacon. The best part is that the final product has such an amazing taste that you will never want to buy commercially made bacon again.
Here are a few tips that I have learned along my journey to making bacon at home.
Higher fat meats will go bad faster. Pork belly needs to be used within 2 days of purchase or it will start to go bad. Buy when you are ready to use or freeze when you purchase for later use.
Make sure to inspect your pork belly to ensure that it is not too fatty. The first time I purchased a pork belly it had a great ratio or meat to fat. The second time I was not so lucky and 75 percent of the pork belly was mostly fat with very little meat. I use this bacon for flavoring but it is too fatty for bacon strips.
Look at both side of your pork belly and make sure it has good amount of meat like the picture above.
I prefer a dry rub to a soak in salt water mixture. Some people will soak pork belly to make sure it will brine properly. I prefer to dry rub the pork which results in a release of natural juices to marinate the pork. I will keep the pork longer in the fridge with the dry rub and turn it every day to create a rich flavor you cannot get from a salt water brine.
This method also results in a more flavorful crust. You can see the salt, herbs and garlic crusted on the top of the bacon pictured above.
When you make your own bacon because it is just the most logical thing to do, send me a picture and tell me about your experience. You will thank me when you are eating home made bacon.
- 1 (5) lb pork belly
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ½ cup kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon pink salt or curing salt
- Add ingredients to a large plastic bag or rectangular container.
- Add pork belly and turn to cover with dry rub. Cover and store in the refrigerator.
- Cure in your refrigerator for up to 6 days turning pork belly each day for even coating.
- Wash off the extra curing mixture before smoking or baking.
- If you have a smoker or pellet grill smoke your pork belly on low temperature for 1-5 hours depending on how smoky you enjoy your bacon. I usually smoke for 2-3 hours.
- You can also add smoking chips to a traditional grill and push chips to one side of grill to smoke your bacon.
- If you do not want to smoke the bacon you can make a great rub of lapsang souchong tea and bake your pork belly in the oven at 250 for 1 hour. Lapsang souchong tea is a smoked tea that you can grind in a spice grinder to make a smokey flavored rub without all of the additives of liquid smoke.
You can get pink curing salt at Savory Spice Shop online.
At our local Whole Foods they have great pork belly. You can also ask a local butcher or a restaurant food distributor. Ask a small local restaurant if you can add a case of pork belly on to their next order and they may just help you out and you may get a fantastic price you will just need a place to store a 50 lb case of pork belly.
You can also find lapsang souchong tea at Whole Foods in the bulk tea department. This is one of my favorite ingredients to use for adding smoky flavor to foods.