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Smokehowze’s Pork Butt Bacon (Buckboard Bacon) Recipe Using an Immersion Cure

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Smokehowze’s Pork Butt Bacon (Buckboard Bacon) Recipe Using an Immersion Cure

 

This bacon is made with a boneless pork butt and is moderately lean bacon.  It is wet (brine) immersion cured with salt, seasonings, and Prague Powder #1 (pink 6.25 % sodium nitrite in 94% table salt – aka Cure #1) and then hot smoked.   

 

The cure under the action of the sodium nitrite is what gives the meat the pink rather than gray color characteristic.  It also provides food safety when curing or drying meat in low temperature conditions such as extended duration cold smoking.  Further info on curing salts is here:    Prague Powder #1 or Cure #1, or Insta Cure #1 can be found on the internet,  for example at http://www.sausagemaker.com/10104instacure14oz.aspx

 

 Note:  Cure #1 is not the same as products like Morton Tender Quick and such.

 

The Final Buckboard Bacon After Hot Smoking

3-AfterHotSmoking_zps4dbe6ef1.jpg

 

Sliced Hot Smoked Homemade Buckboard Bacon 

4-Sliced_zps7f242566.jpg

 

 

Frying Some Up (add a small touch of butter)

6-Frying_zps4bc4f6c6.jpg

 

The Details

For reference as to where this bacon falls on the fat ratio accounting here are several general categorizations for pork bacon:

 

Regular Bacon (American Bacon)  - using pork belly where the fat to meat ratio is 3:1

Buckboard Bacon – using pork shoulder or pork butt where the fat to meat ratio is 1:3

Pork Loin Bacon (Canadian Bacon) – using pork loin where the fat to meat ratio is 1:10

 

The Boneless Pork Butt

I bought a two pack of pork butt at Costco.  The processor’s de-boning trim-out on one of the butts (at 8 lb 9 oz) was close to what I wanted for the bacon.  From that particular butt cutting it apart, I wound up with (and used them all) the following pieces:

 

·         a 5 lb 6 oz  -  3 inch+ thick slab,       >>>  After smoking  5 lb 3 oz

·         a 2 lb 13 oz - 1.5 inch slab and         >>> After smoking   2lb 12 oz

·         a 6 oz remnant  ( AKA cook’s treat)  >>> After smoking  ~ 6 oz.

 

The Raw Meat Before Cure

1-MeatBeforeCure_zps8d8031d6.jpg

 

 

To speed the immersion cure in the thicker 3 inch piece (at 86 oz), I measured somewhat less than 10% by weight of the meat of the solution (~ 8 oz by weight) and injected it into the large piece of meat using my injector tip that has the multiple holes, penetrating the meat horizontally along the mid-line several times to cover the full width.

 

No injection was needed on the smaller pieces.  Using this method all pieces should be cured in around 10 days.  If you do not inject, just cure a few days longer. I chose not to cut the thick slab in half to try the injection method on the cure.

 

I cured these for 12 days, mainly because of my schedule and time available to do the hot smoke.

 

The Wet Cure Bacon Brine (Immersion Cure) – Normalized to 1 quart quantity

 

For each 1 Quart of Immersion Solution:

 

·         1 Quart of Water  (946 grams)

·         25 grams Kosher Salt  (a 2.5% Salt Solution)

·         21 grams  (4 Teaspoons) Cure #1  - Pink Curing Salt  (~138 ppm nitrite pickup in meat)   

·         1/2 cup Maple Syrup

·         1 Tablespoon Dark Natural Cane Syrup (I use Steens)

·         1 Tablespoon Coarse Ground Black Pepper

·         1 Tablespoon Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce

·         4 Garlic Toes (mashed)

·         2 Bay Leaves

 

Dissolve salt in half the water, add other ingredients.  Heat to low boil and then simmer for 5 minutes stirring well to dissolve the salt.  Remove from heat.  Add pink salt and stir to dissolve.  Cool by adding ice to bring final liquid amount to the full necessary measure.  Make as much brine as needed to cover the meat following the above ratio.  For example, if you need 3 quarts then use 3 batch quantities of the above recipe.

 

In this batch of pork butt bacon I made 3 quarts total of solution to just cover the meat.

 

NOTE:  Add pink salt after stock has boiled and it is still warm.  There are health safety cautions regarding pink salt concentrations.  Do not taste solution after adding the pink salt.

 

A salt brine % calculator is here:  http://www.pickl-it....ine-calculator/

 

The 138 ppm nitrite level in the meat is well below the maximum safe limit for final nitrite levels in an immersion cure (200 ppm) assuming a 10% pickup from the solution into the meat.    USDA safety info on curing is here: http://www.fsis.usda...ives/7620-3.pdf

 

 

Equalizing the Meat (optional but recommended)

Remove meat from the brine.  Rinse well.  Dry meat.  Place on tray uncovered in fridge for a day or at least a good overnight period.  This permits the salts to redistribute themselves uniformly inside the meat.  If not ready to smoke after a day, wrap and keep refrigerated and smoke as soon as possible.

 

Hot Smoking the Raw Bacon

Take the raw bacon (equalized or not) and rinse well and dry, then hot smoke at a low temperature of 225 degrees until internal temperature is 145 to 150 degrees.    On these I used a coat of maple syrup and heavy coarse black pepper coating and let it sit on the meat for several hours.  If you use a rub I would recommend it be salt free. Use your favorite wood for the flavor – such as hickory, pecan, apple, cherry, etc.    My choice for this batch was hickory.

 

The  2 lb 13 oz portion took 2 hrs to cook to 145 internal.  The  5 lb 13 oz portion took 3 hrs to cook to 145 internal.

 

 

After Equalization and Coated and Peppered For the Hot Smoke

2-CuredampSeasoned_zps65282526.jpg

 

Cooling and Maturing the Bacon

Remove from smoker and cool.  Wrap well in plastic wrap (not aluminum foil) and refrigerate at least overnight for the flavor to mature and meat to firm up for slicing. I found that after about 3 days the flavor had improved and became more uniform throughout the meat as determined by tasting slices throughout the bacon as I was slicing and vacuum packaging.

 

The Final Smoked Bacon

Slice and enjoy with no further cooking or fry like bacon.   Slice thin for a more “bacon like” final product. 

 

 

Sliced Up

5-SlicesCloseUp_zpsc46b4735.jpg

 

 

Fried Up

7-BuckboardBacon_zps4aa479f2.jpg

 

Observations:

  • The extra maple syrup coating is a good addition to perk up the flavor even though there is maple syrup in the immersion cure.
  • This bacon utilized a 2.5% salt brine as I wanted a lower sodium bacon. I think this salt percentage resulted in a nice balance for what I wanted to achieve.
  • After seeing the final product, I am happy with the 138 PPM nitrite level and the nice final color in the bacon.
  • The flavor of the bacon, sliced and eaten right off the Kamado after smoking is outstanding. 
  • After just overnight in the fridge the sliced strips were quite nice as is.  
  • Frying up the slices in the pan was a very tasty and pleasing culinary experience.   A good melding of smoke, salt, flavorings, and the maple touch enhanced by the black pepper. 

As the meat flavor further matures in the fridge over the next couple days the outcome of this bacon making exercise will just get even better.  I will then vacuum seal the bacon either already sliced or in approximately one pound pieces which would then be sliced after thawing or when still partially frozen.  

 

If you do a lot of homemade bacon then a slicer machine would be a great (but not essential) kitchen addition.

 

I rate this recipe and the immersion cure process a success!

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Thanks for all the time that write up took. I've done bacon several times with great success but have been planning on a buckboard next for lower cost over belly and lower fat. Definitely doing one soon. Looks fabulous.

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I have cured and smoked a small butt and it is ready to be sliced. I have done several back bacon recipes and they turned out fantastic. I have a question about slicing buckboard bacon:

There appears to be 3 camps on the web for slicing buckboard bacon: across-the-grain, with-the-grain, and the who-cares camp. For thing like brisket and tri-tip, etc, I am firmly with the across-the-grain having produced some smoked catcher's mitts previously.

The consensus for "slicing" meat always sides with the "across the grain" camp. Since the butt is several muscles running in different directions and what may appear to be THE GRAIN on the surface may not be the grain below the surface, my inclination is is to slice it longways to make the best looking strips of bacon.

How do you buckboard bacon gurus slice your buckboards?

Your thoughts and experiences are greatly appreciated.

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I

8 hours ago, TNGeezer said:

I have cured and smoked a small butt and it is ready to be sliced. I have done several back bacon recipes and they turned out fantastic. I have a question about slicing buckboard bacon:

There appears to be 3 camps on the web for slicing buckboard bacon: across-the-grain, with-the-grain, and the who-cares camp. For thing like brisket and tri-tip, etc, I am firmly with the across-the-grain having produced some smoked catcher's mitts previously.

The consensus for "slicing" meat always sides with the "across the grain" camp. Since the butt is several muscles running in different directions and what may appear to be THE GRAIN on the surface may not be the grain below the surface, my inclination is is to slice it longways to make the best looking strips of bacon.

How do you buckboard bacon gurus slice your buckboards?

Your thoughts and experiences are greatly appreciated.

I think your approach of slicing the butt for the best "bacon" strips with the right lean/fat streaking is probably a good method. This may involve more than one direction of cut as you proceed.  It's all good in the final result, regardless.  Nobody turns down those odd pieces when they are cooked and on the plate. :mrgreen:  

In my case (and realize I have slept since this post) I chose to cut the two main hunks of meat on an individual assessment to be the best slices for a final bacon appearance. I probably also did a supplementary cut on a portion of the 3 inch thick piece after assessing the best main cut direction in order to have more normal width (e.g. 1 to 1.5 inch) bacon slices and still retain a lean/fat streaking - but again the memory is dim on the exact approach on this batch and later batches. 

Sorry I cannot be more precise in my answer for you.

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Huge thanks for the incredible original post!!!  I've wanted to make bacon forever.  My oldest son(10y/o) loves, loves, loves bacon (as well he should).  He is going to freak out when we make this together.  Seems like an incredibly rewarding project.  I laughed at your comment in this most recent post... about nobody turning down the odd shaped end pieces once they're on a plate.  That is an absolute universal truth.  Of course everyone likes the pretty looking evenly marbled straight cut slices... But I don't know of a "bacon snob" that would turn down the last broken bits that are left after all of the pretty slices are gone.  My kids (and I) are usually fighting for every last morsel when it comes to bacon.  (Wife likes bacon too, but has a little more control than the rest of The Croods).

Sincerely though @Smokehowze, thanks for the awesome tutorial and all of the extra safety information that some people probably worry about.  I will definitely post a thank you picture with four kids greasy bacon grins once we get done with it.

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57 minutes ago, JayhawkPharmer said:

Huge thanks for the incredible original post!!!  I've wanted to make bacon forever.  My oldest son(10y/o) loves, loves, loves bacon (as well he should).  He is going to freak out when we make this together.  Seems like an incredibly rewarding project.  I laughed at your comment in this most recent post... about nobody turning down the odd shaped end pieces once they're on a plate.  That is an absolute universal truth.  Of course everyone likes the pretty looking evenly marbled straight cut slices... But I don't know of a "bacon snob" that would turn down the last broken bits that are left after all of the pretty slices are gone.  My kids (and I) are usually fighting for every last morsel when it comes to bacon.  (Wife likes bacon too, but has a little more control than the rest of The Croods).

Sincerely though @Smokehowze, thanks for the awesome tutorial and all of the extra safety information that some people probably worry about.  I will definitely post a thank you picture with four kids greasy bacon grins once we get done with it.

Not sure how your kids are with black pepper but you might want to go easy on the pepper coating before smoking.   I purposefully did a heavy coarse black pepper coating as I was going for a serious  "pepper bacon" -- and it definitely was peppery.    

Enjoy!

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