How To Make Bacon From Pork Belly
Is there anything better than bacon? I don’t think so! I had been trying to figure out how to make bacon for awhile now, and after a few mediocre attempts, I’ve finally found the perfect recipe from Eric Budd at Budd’s Bacon. Eric makes 100 pounds of bacon out of his home on a weekly basis, and his recipe is tested and true – and definitely a winner in my book!
Here in AZ, it’s not very easy to find pork belly (and it’s pricey). We asked at all our local grocery stores, even checked the bulk stores, but no luck. Finally we came across a butcher shop who carried it – whew! In most places, you can find it at your local supermarket or even the bulk stores carry it. Once you’ve got your pork belly, you’ll need the following ingredients to make bacon! Please keep in mind this recipe was written for 10 pounds of pork belly – if you are using more, or less, please adjust the measurements accordingly.
- Pork Belly (mine was 2.75lbs so I adjusted all measurements, Again, this recipe from Budd’s Bacon calls for 10lbs)
- 1/3 cup brown sugar (can use light or dark)
- 1/3 cup kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons pink salt/prague #1 (use measurements listed on package per lb depending on quantity of pork belly you will be curing)
- 2 cups coarse ground black pepper (this is to taste, I only used half of this amount)
- 2 cups real maple syrup
Before you mix up and apply your cure, make sure that your pork belly will fit into a large ziplock baggie. If it’s too big to fit, you’ll want to cut it down to size, or… make sure you have something to seal it up in for the cure.
Mix brown sugar, pink salt, kosher salt and 1 cup of the coarse ground pepper in a bowl together. Once incorporated, you can then evenly coat all sides of the pork belly with the dry mixture. Place the coated pork belly into Ziploc baggie(s) and be sure to write the date on the bag. This cure goes for at least 7 days, up to 14, so you’ll want a reminder of when it’s time to take it out! I make sure to double bag my ziplocks, as the one on the inside always seems to leak on me. I will sometimes put it into a disposable aluminum tray – I don’t enjoy cleaning out the entire fridge from pork spillage!
Once you’ve placed the pork belly in the fridge for the cure, there are a couple things you’ll be doing:
- Set some kind of reminder for yourself on when you’ll be taking it out. I like to calculate my day by the cure length requirement, and what day I’ll be home to hang out and smoke – I cured mine for 12 days and smoked on a Friday!
- Flip the belly over once each day. This is to ensure the cure is evenly disbursed.
- After the first or second day in the cure, this is when you’ll add half (1 cup) of the real maple syrup. You’re waiting for the moisture to be pulled out of the pork belly and the dry mixture is dissolved.
Note: In learning how to make bacon, I found out that you must leave it in the cure for at LEAST 7 days, you cannot over cure, but you CAN under cure!
Once your cure time is complete you will rinse the pork belly off to remove all of the cure. You will then soak them in cold water for 2-3 hours. Be sure to replace with fresh water ever 30 minutes – this will help remove all the excess cure, salts, etc. Your water will turn yellow from the salts coming out, this is normal, just continue to replace with fresh, clean water every 30 minutes.
Now it’s time to pat the belly dry with paper towels, and put onto a rack on top of a cookie sheet. You can use what you
have, I have cookie cooling racks that I put on top of the cookie sheet. Just be sure to get the belly up and off of the flat surface, you want air circulating all around the belly and the pan below will catch any drippings (should not be much if any). From here, you’ll place it into the fridge overnight, making sure you have good air flow – this allows the belly to form the pellicle (which is a thin skin). You can leave it in the fridge longer than overnight if necessary – mine was in for 24 hours before smoking.
Finally! We’ve figured out how to make bacon, and it’s time to smoke the pork belly! You’ll set your smoker to 150 degrees and get it heated up with the smoke rollin’! Take your belly from the fridge and apply the remainder (1 cup) of real maple syrup to the meaty side of the belly using a basting brush. You can then add the remainder of the coarse black pepper (to taste). I sprinkled very little on as I’m not a huge pepper fan, but you can add as much as you’d prefer!
Note: I used the Smokin Wedgie and apple wood pellets (Coupon codes included within link). You don’t have to have the Smokin Wedgie to make bacon, but it sure does help with the smoke on such low temperatures.
When putting the belly into the smoker, I prefer inserting a meat thermometer so I can monitor the internal temp during the smoke. Once the belly reaches 110 degrees, it’s time to take it out and let it cool before wrapping in plastic wrap and putting back into the fridge overnight.
To slice this beautiful bacon – you have a couple options. You can use a meat slicer, or slice by hand. If using a meat slicer it’s recommended that you put the bacon into the freezer for 3 hours, but if cutting by hand 1-2 hours in the freezer is enough. This will make it much easier to slice! Depending on how much of this delicious bacon you’ve made, you can vacuum seal portions (we do by the pound) and freeze, or just throw it in the fridge for short-term storage.
I hope my research and final success on how to make bacon has encouraged you to make your own – I promise if you do, you’ll never want store-bought again! Special thanks to Eric Budd at Budd’s Bacon for sharing his AMAZING recipe!
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