I Finally Found Some Side Pork
I started smoking food about 2 years ago and I love it. However, I wanted to make bacon. Not back or buckboard bacon. Just bacon. It is known as side bacon here in Canada and Streaky Bacon in England. Bacon.
The problem was, I couldn’t find side pork (some call it belly pork) here. Occasionally, they have some sliced in the supermarket but a slab couldn’t be found. A couple of weeks ago, I asked the butcher behind the counter and he cut me a 3 pound slab!
I started by cutting the skin off the slab.
Then I weighed the pork. It just came in at just over 1.2 kilogram (2.7 pounds). You need to use a curing agent. I used a product called Morton’s Tender Quick. A curing agent is a mixture of salt and sodium nitrate. It stops bacteria from creating toxins in the pork during the long curing and smoking process. You must use exactly the right amount. If you use too little, botulism may form in the meat. Use too much and the excess nitrates can make you sick.
Tender Quick is meant to be used at 30 grams per kilogram of meat or 1/2 ounce per pound. For metric users like me, just multiply the number of kilograms of meat times 30 and you have the number of grams to use. My pork was about 1.2 kilograms times 30 so I needed 36 grams.
If you are working with pounds, just divide the weight of the meat by 2 and you have the number of ounces by weight to use.
I measured out the amount of cure I needed and added 10 ml (2 teaspoons) of brown sugar per 500 grams (1 pound) of meat to the Tender Quick. As I had 1.2 kilogram of meat, I just rounded up to 25 ml of brown sugar.
I put the pork on the plate and rubbed the mixture all over the pork. I put the pork in a Ziploc bag and made sure to put any mixture that fell off the plate into the bag.
I put the pork in the fridge for ten days. Every day, I turned the pork over and rubbed the juices back into the pork.
After ten days, I rinsed the pork off. Then I soaked it in cold water for 2 hours, changing the water every 20 minutes. I dried it with paper towels. Then I put it on a rack in the refrigerator overnight, uncovered.
The next morning I took it out and made sure the surface was totally dry and felt a little tacky. If it is damp at all, put it in front of a fan until it is dry.
I put it in my Bradley Smoker with no heat turned on and just hickory pucks creating smoke. Whatever smoking system you have, you want it smoked for at least four hours at the coolest setting possible. Then I increased the heat to 160 F and smoked for 2 more hours. You don’t want the internal temperature of the bacon to go over 150 F. If it gets to 150 F. Stop smoking the bacon and consider it finished.
Cover the bacon and put it in the fridge for 2 days. Put it in the freezer for 2 hours to make it easier to slice.
I used a ham slicer knife to cut my bacon. One of these days, I will ask She Who Must Be Obeyed if I can get an electric slicer. However, I did a decent job of slicing the bacon with my trusty knife if I do say so myself.
I took some of the shorter slices from the end and fried them up for a bacon sandwich.
This is way better than commercial bacon. There is a nice salt taste and a deep hickory flavour. I loved it but the next time I think I will do it as pepper bacon to kick it up a notch.
The Old Fat Guy