Become a master at curing and smoking your own meat.
- Difficulty: moderate
- Prep Time : 0 mins |
- Cook Time : 60 mins
1 kg whole (boneless) pork belly
150 g sea salt
15 g sugar
5 bay leaves, crushed
10 juniper berries, crushed
1 Tbsp (15 ml) freshly ground black pepper
The Curing Process
Start by pouring some boiling water into a container big enough to fit the belly. The boiling water will sterilise the containers before the curing process.
Place the salt, sugar, bay leaves, juniper berries and pepper into a spice container and shake to mix. Apply a good amount of rub to the belly and then place into the sterilised container and seal with a lid. Place into the fridge for 5 days. Check the belly every day; drain off the moisture and then apply a little more of the rub. Be careful and don’t add too much or you will end up with salty bacon. On the fifth day take the belly out the fridge and give it a good wash to remove the excess rub.
You have what is known as ‘green’ bacon, cured but unsmoked.
NB! Slice off one end and then slice a second piece off to test fry. Cook the bacon slowly in a frying pan, ensuring that the fat renders and that it crisps. Taste it to check the salt content. If it’s too salty then submerge the pork meat in a bowl of water for 1-2 hours. Cut off another piece and try again. When you are satisfied with the flavour, the meat is ready for smoking.
The Smoking Process
Smoking may seem like a complicated process but it really isn’t. Use a Weber or a Big Green Egg smoker to smoke the meat. Both will have instructions for setting up to smoke with indirect heat, which is basically a delicate heat source that allows thicker cuts of meat to cook through slowly, without burning.
Use your choice of smoking chips (I used hickory) and smoke until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 65 ºC. Use a meat thermometer to check. Once the bacon is done, take it out of the smoker and let it cool. Congratulations, you now have smoked bacon! If you are not going to eat it all in one go, you can wrap it in plastic and keep it in the fridge for a week. Alternatively, freeze it for up to 2 months… (like it’s gonna last that long). If you’ve chosen to keep your bacon green, then freeze it immediately.
When ready to use, sliced to the desired thickness.