Originally posted on FineDiners.ca
Well things have been so busy in and out of the kitchen, I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write the follow up to Makin’ Bacon. Now that I have some spare time and have peaked your interest with the Sci-fi smoker, here’s the follow up.
I should have written this article first, as this was actually the first step, leading up to the Makin’ Bacon DIY smoker, but that article was way more fun. As discussed in the previous article, we purchased the pork bellies from Lavergn Western Beef in Navan Ontario – this place is a must stop for a foodie!
The whole process of making bacon starts with the curing process. The meat should be coated in salt and other spices and stored in the fridge for 7 days. We broke our bellies down into different sized cuts and stored them in large ziploc bags with different cures in them. The meat should be turned over every day to ensure a proper cure.
On the 7th day, remove the bellies from the cure, rinse them off thoroughly under water and let air dry in the fridge for 12 hours – this drying process will form what is called the pellicle, a tacky film that will allow the smoke to adhere to the meat. This is a crucial step in the making bacon process.
We tried several different spice combinations for the cure. We did a BBQ blend, a sea salt and maple blend, black pepper and thyme, and a final combination of kosher salt, brown sugar and maple syrup. This last one was the most successful in my opinion.
Finding the proper ratio is the tricky part. On our first attempt we tried 2 parts salt to one part sweet – this batch turned out way too salty. The second crack at it we tried a 1 to 1 ratio, but we found the end product was not salty enough. In the first case, it is possible that all we needed to do was spend some more time rinsing the bellies after the curing process, but I’m not sure.
We have yet to try another combination, but I suspect something in between will get us where we want to be. Since we use an outdoor cold smoking method, we won’t be able to try this out again until the winter – which of course in Ottawa, is never that far off…