I was out of bacon (hang my head in shame). Fortunately I had the side pork (Americans call it belly pork) my brother had brought me from Loves Custom Meats in Vegreville. I decided to make it special by double smoking it.
I will start with some basics of making bacon. You have to use curing salts to make bacon. Curing salts are a mixture of salt and sodium nitrite.
The curing salts inhibit bacterial growth during the long smoking process. If you cold smoke meat for hours without curing, it will go bad.
The curing salts also give bacon its distinctive colour and taste.
Curing salts go by many names, Instacure #1, Prague Powder #1, Pink Salt and many more. Just make sure it is 6.25% sodium nitrite and the rest is salt.
The problem is that too little curing salt will not protect the meat and too much can make you sick. It is imperative you use the right amount.
There are two ways of introducing curing salts. One is a dry rub and the other is a brine where they are mixed with water. I prefer the dry rub for bacon and the brine for hams. I will be using the dry rub here.
When you are using a dry rub, you must have the exact amount of curing salts for each piece of meat. This means that, if you have more than one piece, you must do each piece separately so that you can make sure you have the right amount of curing salts.
I would like to strongly recommend you get a small scale to measure the curing salts by weight. It is just more accurate and you will get a better result.
Not all bacon is smoked. Several European countries have a tradition of making bacon without smoking. So, if you don’t have a smoker, you could still make this bacon by not going through the smoking process. After rinsing the cure off the bacon and soaking it, just put it in a 180 F oven until the internal temperature is 120 F. It is delicious but quite different without the smoky taste.
Side pork often comes with the skin on. You can make your bacon with the skin on and remove it after curing and smoking. I find it easier and like the result better when I remove it before smoking.
I work a sharp knife under one corner of the skin and then fold it back and keep pulling a sharp knife between the skin and meat.
Then I weighted the pork piece to determine how much of the curing mix to make.
Mix up a cure with the following amounts for each kilogram of pork:
- 3 grams (2 ml) Prague Powder #1
- 40 ml brown sugar
- 15 ml kosher salt
- 1 ml Berbere Spice or chili powder (optional)
If you are one of my metrically challenged readers, use the following amounts per pound of pork loin. The ounces refer to weight.
- 0.05 ounce (1/5 teaspoon) Prague Powder #1
- 4 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon Berbere Spice or chili powder (optional)
As my pork side weighted 1.766 kg, I mixed up:
- 5.3 grams Prague Powder #1
- 71 ml brown sugar
- 27 ml kosher salt
- 2 ml Berbere Spice or chili powder (optional)
I like the touch of Berbere or chili powder as it gives a touch of spice to the bacon but the small amount means it is just a background note. It is still a wonderful bacon without it if you want no spiciness.
I put the pork on a tray so any loose curing mix would fall in the tray and rubbed both sides of the pork.
I put the pork into a large resealable bag and made sure that all curing mix that was on the tray got into the bag before sealing it.
The pork has to sit in the fridge for the curing mix to work its way into the meat. The length of time it has to be in the fridge is determined by the thickness of the meat. The pork side was 1 1/2 inches thick at its widest point. Allow 4 days per inch and add two days. So, 4 days time 1 1/2 inches is six days. Add two days and the pork has to sit in the fridge for 8 days. If your pork was 2 inches thick, you would let it sit 10 days. Do not dry cure a piece of meat that is over 2 1/2 inches thick as it takes too long to cure.
While the meat is in the fridge, turn the bag and rub the cure mix in every day or so.
After the pork has sat in the cure for the appropriate time, take it out and rinse the pork under cold water. Then let it soak in cold water for an hour, changing the water twice. This removes the strong saltiness from the cure on the surface of the meat.
Before you start smoking it, is important the surface of the pork is totally dry. Pat it dry with a paper towel and put it on a rack. Let it sit for 15 minutes and pat dry with a paper towel. Keep letting it rest and drying it with a paper towel until the surface is very dry and feels kind of sticky. Smokers call this pellicle. It just means the surface of the meat is dry and will take the smoke well. If you put the pork in smoke while wet, you can get a bitter ashtray tast.
I fired up my A-Maze-N Tube Smoker with hickory pellets. If you don’t have a cold smoke source, you can skip this cold smoke step and still have a great single smoked bacon.
I put the pork in my Louisiana Grills Pellet Smoker with a tray of ice and the tube smoker. I did not turn the grill on. You are cold smoking, not cooking the bacon at this step.
The ice wasn’t really necessary but it was a hot day and I like to keep it a little cooler in the chamber as the tube smoker does generate some heat. If it is a cold day, it is totally unecessary.
I let it smoke until the tube smoker ran out of pellets, 5 hours.
I took the bacon out and put it in the fridge, uncovered, overnight.
The next day, I preheated my pellet smoker to 200 F and smoked the bacon to an internal temperature of 120 F.
I let the bacon sit in the fridge for two days to let the flavours even out. Then I sliced the bacon with my trusty ham slicer.
Of course, I had to fry up a couple of pieces of the trim to taste it.
This is wonderful bacon and so much better than commercial bacon. When you put commercial bacon in the fry pan, it gives off a lot of liquid then starts to cook. This doesn’t. It just slowly renders the fat and gives a great bacon texture.
I make this with less salt for health reasons and I think this gives a better salt balance on the taste as well. It has a nice sweet/salt balance and the touch of spice is barely noticeable but enhances the flavour. If you like really salty bacon like the commercial bacon, increase the salt by 25 %.
This is just great bacon.
The Old Fat Guy
- 1 kg side pork, skin removed before weighing
- 3 grams (2 ml) Prague Powder #1
- 40 ml brown sugar
- 15 ml kosher salt
- 1 ml Berbere Spice or chili powder, optional
- If you are multiplying the recipe, it is critical that the ingredients are in exact proportion. Too much or too little curing salt can cause illness.
- Mix all ingredients except pork together.
- Put the pork on a tray and rub the curing mix into both sides.
- Put the pork in a resealable bag and make sure all curing mix that fell onto the tray gets into the bag.
- Seal the bag and put in the refrigerator for four days for every inch of thickness plus two days. (2 inches would go in for 10 days, 1 1/2 inches for 8 days).
- Turn and rub the bags every day.
- Rinse the pork under cold water.
- Soak in cold water for an hour, changing the water twice.
- Put the pork on a rack and dry with a paper towel. Let it sit for 15 minutes and dry with a paper towel again. Continue resting and drying until the surface is dry and tacky.
- Put the pork in cold smoke for three to five hours.
- Let the pork sit in the fridge overnight.
- Hot smoke at 200 F to an internal temperature of 120 F.
- Let sit in the refrigerator for two days.
- Slice and freeze any that will not be used in the next week.
That looks amazing! There is nothing better than a good piece of bacon and it looks like you made just that!
I’m all about bacon!!! A lot of work but looks to me to be well worth it as always great job.
Actually, Sam, there isn’t as much work as it looks like it is just spread over several days and then you get bacon!
I am impressed with this bacon. I grew up on a farm and my brothers still do their own butchering, but the bacon is always taken to a butcher shop to be cured and smoked (even though they have their own smokehouse). Your bacon looks delicious!!
I am jealous of their custom butchered meat! There are many cuts that are difficult to get here in the moutains.
ml is mililiters a liquid measure not a weight. One ml of water= one cubic centimeter = one gram. While you’ve got the scale out just weigh the dry ingredients and not have to worry how full the teaspoon is.
I’m not quite sure what your saying. A ml is a measure of volume whether liquid, powdered or granulated. Your conversion between ml and grams is correct for water but does not work for sugar, salt, or other items as they have different weights per volume than water. I choose to weigh my Prague Powder #1/pink salt/instacure as the amount of it is critical. On the other hand I use the volume measure of ml for my salt, brown sugar, water and maple syrup as it is not critical that the amounts be exact. I include the dry measure of ml and teaspoons for the curing salts too because some people don’t have a sensitive enough scale. I do recommend weight over dry measure but many people make fine bacon with dry measures.
If you suggestion is that using weights for all measures is more accurate, I am in total agreement. Particularly with items like brown sugar and kosher salt that have differing sizes of granules depending on the type or brand. Therefore, measuring by weight is definitely more accurate.
So, I agree with measuring by weight is the gold standard and strongly recommend it for the curing salt but have found it to be less important for the other ingredients.
Thanks for your input!
Made this, found it too sweet. Going to cut the brown sugar in half next time. Other than that worked well. Thanks for the starting point!
Great! One of the best parts of making food yourself is adjusting it to your tastes. Glad you are doing that!
In your video you smoke this to 140 but in your write up you say 120. I smoked mine to 120 but I was wondering the difference the 20 degrees would make.
The temperatures don’t make a lot of difference. I used to smoke to 120 F but I increased it to 130 to 140. All five a good consistency for slicing but the higher temperatures give the bacon more time in the smoke. If you do 120, it will be a little less smoky. If you do 140 F it will be a bit more smoky.
Putting my first one in to cure today. Smoke date of 01/27. Given that our Host is from “up there” I think I need to track down a drug dealer and get one of those scales that weighs out tiny amounts of “stuff” in grams. My belly needed 3/5 teaspoon of Cure #1 – no such a kitchen utensil here so I used 2×1/4 and a 1/2 of a 1/4. This will be cob smoked – I scored an entire field of unharvested cow corn with perfectly dry cobs that have shed their kernels.
I really do recommend a small scale. What you used should be fine but grams are way more accurate. Corn cob makes great bacon!
I am originally from Vermont (USA) Dave :>) My dad and grand dad always smoked over cobs. Still done commercially – see Dakin Farms website. My Bradley is “learning” to burn cob – I’ve played with the DIY puck making instructions without huge success. Bradley pucks are 43-cents (US) here – thats over $1.30 an hour for convenience. I found some 2 inch round wire baskets that I am filling with dehydrated (dry) ground cob and that fit the Bradley fill tube and pusher-outer. I am getting 15 minutes smoke/burn time just on the hot plate of the smoke generator. We shall see if I get the 5 hr cold smoke specified by the Guru of Smoke. Film at eleven. Steve
I am interested in how it works! Another option is I believe there are corn cob pellets available and you could do them in a tube or maze smoker in your Bradley.
Thank you for your outline on this beautiful bacon. I am excited to try this myself as finding double smoked (or triple smoked) bacon is difficult. Your description and photos are GREATLY appreciated.
***CAUTION*** IF YOU DECIDE TO TRY THIS, DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH ON THE AMOUNT OF PRAGUE #1 POWDER TO USE… ALSO UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WET CURING AND DRY CURING AND HOW IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE ON THE AMOUNT YOU USE. ALSO UNDERSTAND THE STRENGTH (% OF NITRITE IN THE SALT) OF THE POWDER YOU ARE USING…. THIS RECIPE APPEARS TO USE TOO MUCH PRAGUE POWDER #1 BUT IS DEPENDENT ON THE FACTS ABOVE.
Thank you for your kind words. For your peace of mind, I refer you to the following document from the FDA https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/meat-preparation/bacon-and-food-safety/ct_index.
In this document it notes
“How much nitrite can be used in curing bacon?
The USDA is responsible for monitoring the proper use of nitrite by meat processors. While sodium nitrite cannot exceed 200 ppm going into dry-cured bacon, sodium nitrite cannot exceed 120 ppm for both pumped and immersion-cured bacon.”
As this is dry cured bacon, your maximum target nitrite is 200 ppm. I use 3 grams of Prague Powder #1 which is 6.25% nitrite or 0.1875 grams of nitrite, for each kg (1000 g). That works out to 187.5 ppm, well below the maximum.
Can I inject maple syrup into the bacon using the same recipe?
Absolutely. Cut the brown sugar by 20 ml per kg (2 tsp per pound) and inject 30 ml of syrup per kg (1 tbsp per pound).
I am going to try the double smoked method next time I make bacon. If you want a better measure of curing salt look up brine calculator on the internet. Most of them are accurate for the curing salt and then you can calculate the rest of the the ingredients by the percentage of saltiness you like.
I pull the rind off after cooking and cut and dry it for dog treats. They love it.
I bet the dogs do love the rinds!