Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Last of the Bacon... For Now.

So the other two slabs of pork belly came out of the cure this past weekend.  These were brined using Pop's Brine from The Smoking Meat Forums website.  It's well regarded and from what he says, being a less salty cure, you can go past your target date a bit without going into "Too Salty" territory.

Happiness is a crisp morning with a smokin' Egg.
 Essentially, the recipe is pretty darn easy.  1 Gallon of cold water (obviously, the better the water you've got, the better off you are - I used tap water with the chlorine and fluoride filtered out), 1 cup non-iodized table salt, 1 cup regular sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, and 1 ounce curing salt (Cure 1, pink salt, prague powder 1 - there many different labels this stuff has - but we're NOT talking about Morton's Tenderquick or Cure #2 here).

26 hours of Apple smoke can put some color on your bacon!

Mix it all together (no reason to heat the water - it'll all dissolve just fine with some heavy stirring.  Pop says that for full bellies, you should go for between 10-14 days in the brine.  Since my bellies were a little on the thick side - just a hair over 2 inches at the thickest part - I went the full 14 days.

I pulled them from the brine and let them dry on a rack in the fridge for a day or so to get that tacky pellicle to form.  Then I smoked them over Apple wood for about 26 hours straight (I let it go all night) and then back in the fridge to get cold before slicing.


My meat slicer (the Edgecraft 610) gets a workout on this process.  I can say now that I understand why some say to just save your money and buy a used Hobart slicer off craigslist.  This slicer tends to pull the meat downward which seems to leave a chunk along the bottom that I find myself having to trim off.

But, the good news is that there is plenty of trim bagged up to use to flavor soups, stews, greens, and who knows what else.

I gotta admit, it sure is a neat thing to see piles of sliced bacon all over the counter waiting to get the vacuum pack treatment from the Food Saver.

Not from this batch.  But still pretty!
Okay - full confession mode here.  I can't believe this but I actually forgot to save a couple slices to fry up.  My wife and I were not feeling 100% due to a head cold that has been making its rounds and we were anxious to get the job done.

So, the picture you see to the left is the previous week's bacon... the stuff I said was a little on the salty side.  As soon as I've finished off cooking what is left of that bag, I'll thaw out a package of this week's bacon to see how different it is.

In the future, I'll need to remember to slice off a chunk when it comes out of the cure BEFORE hitting the smoker.  That way, if its too salty, I can soak it in cold water before smoking it to help draw out some of the salt.  I failed to do that on BOTH of these batches.  I'm such a rookie!

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