Bacon is one of the most popular pork cuts, favored by many due to its unique taste. It is a salt-cured cut, coming from less fatty parts, like the pork belly. Bacon is very versatile as a meat dish, and you can eat it alone or as part of a sandwich or salad.
If you love bacon, the good news is that you can smoke it. This is a critical step in preparing your bacon cuts and having a sustained homemade supply. We are going to show you how to smoke bacon at home.
Before getting into its preparation, you need to know that smoking is just one part of the whole process. There are many preceding steps that you should get right before putting the pork cut in the smoker.
What You Need to Smoke Bacon
Once you make up your mind to make bacon at home, you should get the necessary ingredients. The top of the list is pork belly or loin. Make sure that the meat cut is not too fatty. A cut that is at most 1:1 muscle to fat ratio will do perfectly.
The meat should also be fresh, which you can deduce from its color. The fatty part should be clear white, while the flesh has to have a pinkish hue. You also need ingredients for curing your pork.
Salt is the main curing component that helps in dehydrating pork. For salt, pink or kosher will work. You can bring in other items for the cure, like brown sugar, paprika, and black pepper. You may add more spices depending on your taste.
Sealing bags and a sealing machine are excellent assets in smoking bacon, coming in handy during storage. A smoker and wood chips or pellets are other items to have.
Check our guide on where to buy and what to keep in mind when shopping for pork belly
Step by Step Guide in Smoking Bacon
Step 1: Removing the Skin
If you have the right pork belly or loin portion, you have to cut out the skin. You may ask your butcher to do it for you if you do not know how to. If you want to do it at home, run a sharp fillet knife beneath the skin. You can use the skin to make snacks like baked pork skin – a tasty drinking snack.
Step 2: Curing the Pork
Curing is a critical step in smoking bacon. You should be keen on this step as a slight hitch can affect the results. Start by preparing your cure. Mix all the ingredients you have in a mortar and gently grind them with a pestle. This action helps in mixing the spices.
Lay the pork flat on a clean surface and generously apply the cure in a rubbing motion on all sides. You can then store the cured meat in a vacuum-sealed bag for the best outcome. If you do not have a vacuum sealer, a Ziploc bag is an option to consider.
To avoid spillage, put the Ziploc bag in a container, then put it in the refrigerator. There is also the option of curing bacon using brine. You may try out this technique to weigh your options in bacon preparation.
Step 3: Waiting For the Bacon to Mature
A point to note about smoking bacon is that it requires immense patience. Once you put it in the refrigerator, you have to wait for a week and a half before it is ready to hit the smoker. During its stay in the fridge, ensure to check on it daily, changing its position for proper infusion of the cure.
You will notice that the meat will start being moist due to the salt drawing out water. Try shaking it during your checkups.
After a long wait, remove the bacon from the bag and rinse it properly. Be certain to remove much of the cure from its surface. Return the meat to the fridge and let it stay overnight. Place the bacon on a rack with a tray beneath it to hold the dripping juices.
Turn the meat cut once or twice in the fridge. Turning helps in the formation of a pellicle, a layer that helps capture smoke.
Step 4: Smoking the Bacon
Light up your smoker and preheat it to 160-175-degrees Fahrenheit. Bring in wood pellets that will give the pork cut a smoky flavor. You need the right wood pellets that will assure you of a savory bacon slice.
Traeger Grills cherry hardwood pellets are an excellent pick for smoking bacon. The pellets will give the bacon an earthy and fruity taste. Check out this guide to understand more about wood chipping flavors.
Smoke your bacon in the smoker for 2-3 hours, in the 160-165-degrees Fahrenheit range. Once ready, remove it and let it cool. Slice the bacon to the preferred sizes and store the pieces in Ziploc or vacuum-sealed bags.
The Issue of Salty Bacon
At times, when serving your homemade bacon, you may realize that it is too salty. Try out blanching, where you put the slices in simmering water for roughly a minute. Remove them and dab them with clean paper towels. The saltiness will reduce to a significant degree.
Another trick to cancel the saltiness is by using maple syrup. Optionally, include it with salt-less filling in a sandwich, like eggs and veggies. Saltiness may come from improper rinsing after curing. As such, be certain to rinse it thoroughly.
Making bacon at home is a great culinary art to learn. This article is a great asset, showing you the steps to follow when smoking bacon. Be keen on each step for the best results. Watch out for saltiness, which can affect the taste of your creation.
Related: Is Bacon Bad for You? Here are the actual health benefits of eating bacon