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I may never eat store-bought bacon again


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TL;DR - Homemade apple wood smoked jalapeno bacon is easy and awesome!  (http://chaosinthekitchen.com/2010/10/home-cured-jalapeno-bacon/)

 

My wife and I have a Red Beans and Bacon dish we absolutely love, that we've always made with jalapeno bacon sourced from a local supermarket.  Unfortunately during pandemic-times they stopped carrying it, and they don't know if it will ever come back.  We were nearly resigned to using "normal" bacon, until I found the recipe from Chaos in the Kitchen (above).

 

We picked up a 3.5# skin-on pork belly from the local Super Saver, made up the brining solution, and parked it all in the cold box for a week.  Then smoked it at 200F to internal temp of 150F with a chunk of apple wood.  In order to slice it, I put the finished bacon in the freezer for 40 min, which allowed me to cut 'thin enough' strips with a sharp knife for burgers.  For the Red Beans and Bacon, I cut 1/4" strips, then knocked those down into lardons.

 

The bacon had more jalapeno flavor than heat.  We might try adding some birdseye pepper power to subsequent attempts to amp it up a bit.

 

Here's Alton Browns Red Beans recipe we modified (we omit the rice entirely and instead serve dish with deluxe cornbread, and we substitute the pickled pork with jalapeno bacon):

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/red-beans-and-rice-recipe-1943443

 

[In some of the comments on the DIY bacon page, folks mentioned it's "not really" bacon because it hasn't been "cured".  Perhaps that's correct, but my bacon lasted 7 days in fridge just fine post smoking, so I think I'm good with the finished product regardless of the name]

 

 

 

DIY_jalp_bacon.jpg

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Looks delicious. Reading the recipe and your comment about the bacon not being cured,

you could substitute Morton's Tenderquick for the salt. It contains a small amount of nitrate and

nitrite for curing. I had the same experience with adding jalapenos to the cure as you did when

I tried making bacon. I think your idea of adding chili powder might do the trick.

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3 hours ago, JWoodyNE said:

In some of the comments on the DIY bacon page, folks mentioned it's "not really" bacon because it hasn't been "cured". 

 

Well, they need to talk to folk who are selling uncured bacon as bacon (example: Open Nature Bacon at Albertsons -   https://www.albertsons.com/shop/product-details.960048487.html). 

 

Some folk are sensitive to nitrites or nitrates, and having uncured bacon is a great alternative.  Just have to treat it appropriately, like any other uncured meat, for food safety concerns.   I've used this product, and I don't find a difference in taste from cured bacon - it's good.  But sounds like I'll be trying some home-made versions in the near future :)  

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That looks like some really good bacon.  I have always had good results using Morton's Tenderquick for my pork bellies (I think it preserves the color more than anything else.).  If you want a little more heat, you might try matching a serrano to each of those jalapenos.  They're small with good flavor and up to 5 times more heat, but nothing crazy.  Glad you're having fun with red beans and cornbread, it is the best.

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3 hours ago, Boater said:

 

Some folk are sensitive to nitrites or nitrates, and having uncured bacon is a great alternative.  Just have to treat it appropriately, like any other uncured meat, for food safety concerns.

This was my reaction as well.

 

Looking forward to playing with the base recipe :)

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I've had no issues keeping "uncured" but smoked and pasteurized bacon for weeks. 

 

I've also had a hard time getting bacon to taste "hot" without something hot on the surface. I use a recipe of 1/4 salt, 1/4 pepper and 1/2 sugar. The heat just doesn't seem to penetrate when the other two flavors do. Fortunately, the flavor adds nicely when cooking. 

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