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First Attempt at Bacon on the Big Joe


buckleybj
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After see posts on this site, watching countless YouTube videos and hours upon hours of nervous research I decided to buy a pork belly and give bacon a try on my Big Joe. Like others have commented I found the pink salt was not as easy to find as I assumed, so I bought some off Amazon. I bought a 10-lb pork belly from Costco, found an easy recipe on line and started my adventure! I followed the recipe below as a template:

 

https://www.garlicandzest.com/homemade-applewood-smoked-bacon/

 

I used dark brown sugar because that's what I had and I used pure Vermont Maple Syrup instead of honey. I used cayenne pepper on half of the belly and none on the other just because I forgot to put it in my first batch of the curing paste.

 

I had to cut the pork belly in half because I was using 1-gallon ziploc bags and this resulted in two different flavors to my bacon. The first one without the cayenne pepper finished curing in 9 days. Based on the hours of research I guessed at it being done because it was pretty stiff compared to when it first started. The second bag with the cayenne pepper leaked much of the liquid and didn't seem ready. So when I removed the first belly I drained the second bag, made another batch of the curing paste and started the process again.

 

The first batch of bacon I rinsed thoroughly, dried with paper towels and placed on a drying rack in the fridge for a day unwrapped and uncovered. The next day I smoked it for about 3 hours keeping the temperature between 200-240 and cooking until the internal temp was 150. I used 2 small chunks of apple wood for the smoke.

 

Since I don't have a meat slicer I was "forced" to buy a Dalstrong Gladiator Series Ham Knife which was heavily recommended throughout this site. I did my best to keep the strips as thin as possible and even.

 

The family loved the bacon and I was happy with the result as well. Now the second half of the pork belly finished up about 4 days later and I followed the same smoking process except I add 2 chunks of cherry wood and 2 chunks of apple wood. I didn't think the first round of bacon was smoky enough so I doubled the amount of wood.

 

This was noticeably better than the first round! I tasted smoke this time and it wasn't overpowering. The flavors of this bacon were much more pronounced that the first round and while I know the added wood made a difference, I wonder if re-doing the curing process half the way through made any difference. 

 

Regardless, I enjoyed the whole preparation and cooking of the bacon and will do this from now on! It wasn't nearly as difficult as I had thought and though the second batch was better both were fantastic! As good or better than anything I've ever bought from the store. My family all claim it's better than anything we've ever bought, but I guess I'm a little more critical of my cooking than they are.

 

 

 

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On 4/7/2019 at 1:09 PM, buckleybj said:

... I used cayenne pepper on half of the belly and none on the other just because I forgot to put it in my first batch of the curing paste.

... The second bag with the cayenne pepper leaked much of the liquid and didn't seem ready. So when I removed the first belly I drained the second bag, made another batch of the curing paste and started the process again....

There is something to watch out for, but I think you're OK here. 

 

It's not a good idea to double-cure meat when using sodium nitrate. Meat mass-to-Prague powder ratio is important, so recipe developers scale the amount of cure to the size of the meat. There's a very serviceable latitude, but I'd be careful with a second, full strength application on partially-cured meat. 

 

Conversely, I don't use sodium nitrate, so I don't legally make "bacon," but it tastes the same, albeit with somewhat less shelf life and a mandatory 150 F pasteurization step. Without the preservatives, the only rules for the recipe come from your taste buds.

 

I use a 1-2-1+ formula: 1 part salt, 2 parts sugar, 1 part pepper plus some spices. It's a generic version of the one you linked, 2x the sugar to salt, with almost an equal amount of pepper (paprika) and other stuff. Without pink salt, I think generically. 

Salt is salt.

Sugar is anything sweet:white sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave, fruit juice, etc. alone or in combination.

Pepper is black pepper, white pepper, crushed red pepper, cayenne, paprika, ancho, chipotle, etc., alone or in combination. My favorite is all black pepper; it's not spicy!

 

HAve fun,

Frank

 

 

Edited by fbov
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On 4/8/2019 at 10:37 PM, fbov said:

There is something to watch out for, but I think you're OK here. 

 

It's not a good idea to double-cure meat when using sodium nitrate. Meat mass-to-Prague powder ratio is important, so recipe developers scale the amount of cure to the size of the meat. There's a very serviceable latitude, but I'd be careful with a second, full strength application on partially-cured meat. 

 

Conversely, I don't use sodium nitrate, so I don't legally make "bacon," but it tastes the same, albeit with somewhat less shelf life and a mandatory 150 F pasteurization step. Without the preservatives, the only rules for the recipe come from your taste buds.

 

I use a 1-2-1+ formula: 1 part salt, 2 parts sugar, 1 part pepper plus some spices. It's a generic version of the one you linked, 2x the sugar to salt, with almost an equal amount of pepper (paprika) and other stuff. Without pink salt, I think generically. 

Salt is salt.

Sugar is anything sweet:white sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave, fruit juice, etc. alone or in combination.

Pepper is black pepper, white pepper, crushed red pepper, cayenne, paprika, ancho, chipotle, etc., alone or in combination. My favorite is all black pepper; it's not spicy!

 

HAve fun,

Frank

 

 

Wow, thank you for the info. I had read about not using too much of the pink salt, but didn't consider that when I made that second cure. I'm excited about my next batch of bacon, though it will probably be another month or so I'd say.

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