1st Time Pork Belly (Bacon). . . . Any Help Appreciated!

Discussion in 'Pork' started by smokefever, Mar 18, 2014.

  1. smokefever

    smokefever Smoking Fanatic

    Hey SMF, I decided today that I wanted to try something I have been wanting to do for a long time.  Curing a pork belly for bacon.  I have done some research and originally planned on using Pink Salt #1 along with black pepper, some Mrs. Dash, a little garlic and some maple syrup, covering in water and curing for a week.  Since I couldn't find any pink salt, I picked up some TQ. 


    Is there a major difference??  The directions say to leave in for UP TO 24 hours. . . . would it hurt to go past that like I had originally planned?? 



    The belly is frozen so I am thawing it right now (not all the way) and will start curing it this afternoon.  Please comment with any tips, suggestions, etc as this is completely new to me.  Thanks in advance
     
  2. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Last edited: Mar 18, 2014
  3. smokefever

    smokefever Smoking Fanatic

  4. Hey SmokeFever I get over your way on a fairly regular basis - I can give you some cure #1 to get you started with other things. If you are interested shoot me a PM...
     
  5. smokefever

    smokefever Smoking Fanatic

    Tomorrow is the big day.  The belly has been curing 6 days now.  I took it out this morning to rinse it off and dry and then place back into the fridge.  Since I have no way of cold-smoking the belly, it'll have to be done around 250 until the IT reaches 150.  I'm going to use all apple wood this time.  Once its done in the smoke, I'll let it cool a little bit, place back in the fridge overnight.  Then I'll run it through the slicer and fry it up (I'll have to sneak a piece once it comes off the smoker of course).  One question I do have for those who have cold smoked and hot smoked bellies. . . . is there a noticeable difference?  I don't like my bacon extremely crispy, I like it a little chewy.  Since I have never made my own bacon I am just curious as to what the results will be.  Ok, on to the pics!!


    Belly after 3 days of cure


    I flipped the belly over every day, this again was day 3



    The last two pics were from this morning.  The belly has firmed up quite a bit since day 1.  I left the skin on so I don't ruin it trying to remove it before smoking.  I'm sure the smoke wont be as prominent on the side with the skin on, but that's ok.  Once I remove it from the smoker, I'll take the skin off and make some cracklin's with it. 
     
  6. You may be rendering an awful lot of fat out of your bacon at that temperature so keep a good eye on it. As to your question about cold vs hot smoking bacon - I have done both & can tell you with absolute certainty that I won't be hot smoking any more! It gives it a different texture & flavor that I just don't like. You will find supporters of both ways on here & it's ultimately up to you which way you like best. As to me though I don't like to pre-cook my bacon - I cook it once - right before I eat it & that is what works for me  [​IMG]  

    Your bellies look good man & you're gonna love those cracklins  [​IMG]   Have fun with your smoke & make sure to get some more pics  [​IMG]  
     
  7. trikefreak

    trikefreak Smoke Blower

    Looks great, good luck with your first bacon! I've done mine at 150* for many hours, and I like the results. I didn't want to "cook" it as much as I wanted the warmth to allow the smoke to penetrate. I thought I read about doing it this way before I did it, but don't remember what thread.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2014
  8. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Fever,

    6 days is pretty short for curing a belly with the skin on. Did you take a slice to see if the cure got all the way to center??

    Also, if you smoke at 250* until 150* IT, you're going to render an awful lot of fat, and you won't have to fry it----It will be done! I never did that to Belly Bacon.

    Did you look at the link "C Farmer" gave you? It shows how to calculate amount of cure, how long to cure, and my smoking method isn't "Cold Smoking". It is warm smoking at 120 to 140*. Can you get your smoker down to 150*---That would be a lot better than 250*.

    Here's that link again:

    http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/108099/bacon-extra-smoky

    Not trying to be bossy----Just trying to help.

    Bear
     
  9. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    LOL...... look at all those Pa. smokers com'in out the woodwork!

    You've got loads of good advise here. Only thing I'll add, when ever you smoke/cure meat, never decide on the taste when finished until the meat has at least 3 or 4 days to mellow. Trust me on this, I have made bacon, jerky, nuts, etc. and would have not feed them to the neighbor's dog when finished. After a few days mellowing in the meat reefer, they get better, seems the longer you can give them, the smoother they become.

    After smoking your bacon, give it some time to breath before you make your final decision upon how good it is.

    Good luck and you are going to love your own bacon. Sadly once you do it, its and addiction you'll not break.

    Enjoy your bacon, enjoy your smoke.

    Bear's a show off, but I too used his guide lines for smoking bacon (I am lazy I brine cured)


    Look at that color, that aroma, the taste was so good...... I used Bear's smoking time table!

    Below is what you end up with. You can why it is sooooooo addictive! W/ fresh tomatoes OMG!

     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2014
  10. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    We like our bacon Foam.     LOL
     
  11. smokefever

    smokefever Smoking Fanatic

    Yeah I was wondering just how much fat would render out by smoking at that temp.  I wish I had a way to cold smoke it. . . unfortunately I haven't been able to get my smoker under 250 (just a matter of getting more practice with it).  I cook my bacon the same as you, once and then eat immediately. . . that's why I am kinda nervous about this cook tomorrow.  Not sure if I should just put it back in the cure for another few days and do some test runs on the smoker trying to get it down that low.  Decisions decisions. . .
    Thank you very much Trike, I'm pretty excited for it.  Even if it's horrible it will be a learning experience.  I probably should have taken more time to research before jumping right into it, but I'm pretty impatient that way.  Looks like I am gonna have to invest in a AMNPS as most people I have talked to smoke at really low temp. 
    Hey Bear, the advice is much appreciated.  I'm pretty worried about rendering the fat too much.  I have never been able to get my smoker down to 150.  250 is the lowest so far.  I just got this kamado last month and needless to say I haven't mastered it. . . . . kinda stuck as to what to do. 
    That bacon looks INCREDIBLE!!  Would love to have results like that  [​IMG]    I cant thank everyone enough for all of the great advice given so far.  I have a lot to think about, a lot of research to do.  Hoping this cook goes atleast halfway decent.  We shall see
     
  12. It looks like I'll be over your way Friday man - if it's gonna be sooner I will let you know...

    Here's something to think about - I was curing & smoking bacon before I ever had a "hot smoker"  - I would cold smoke in a box or an old grill & it worked great! I bought a $5 soldering iron at Radio Shack & plugged it in for a while to burn off any oil residue. Took a coffee can & drilled a hole in the side about an inch up from the bottom to fit the soldering iron in. Put the iron in, filled the can with chips & it would smoke several hours before I had to refill it. A setup like that could work fine for you & keep you from rendering all the fat out of your bacon. Something to consider...
     
  13. smokefever

    smokefever Smoking Fanatic

    Sounds like an episode of McGyver :)  I'm not too handy when it comes to that, heck I don't even have a garage.   Would just going and getting an AMNPS be a good bet??  There is a BBQ Store about 10 mins away from my house.  You might have been there before, Mason Dixon BBQ Services. . . .
     
  14. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I would get the tray smoker not the tube smoker if possible.
     
  15. An AMNPS would let you cold smoke pretty much anywhere & would let you do your bacon without rendering the fat out. If that's the store out by Grove I went there once to check it out on a Saturday but it was closed...
     
  16. smokefever

    smokefever Smoking Fanatic

    Yep, that's the store by grove.  They are open 9-noon on Saturdays and closed sundays.  I was just in there a couple months ago and pretty sure they have them there.  I'm definitely going to swing by there tomorrow morning and pick one up if they have them. 
     
  17. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You know, I am going to say something an wait to be corrected by the pro's.

    I don't know that you can over cure bacon in Pop's brine. I have cured 3 weeks before.... I have dried in the reefer for a full week before and allowed to mellow in the reefer for over a week afterwards. That did change the texture, sort of dried the meat close to the exterior.

    What I am saying is master your pit first, I don't know those fancy ones to well, but I am guessing some sort of minimal minion method would cure your problem.

    Who was it that just bought that Kamado Pro gold last month, he was a chef and did he do a bacon? I know he did some beautiful smokes.

    And my above smoked bacon was cured using Pop's brine curing method, but Bearcarver's smoking time table. The best of all worlds.

    I am guessing we given you a load more than you can digest already, which ever way you decide to go, I know the smoke will smell outstanding.

    Ya know Moikel also makes a good looking braised bacon dish. His recipe might give you and idea of heating temps. to render.
     
  18. You actually have up to 40 - 45 days in the brine. After that, the proteins in the meat start to break down & turn it into a gummy blob...
     
  19. smokefever

    smokefever Smoking Fanatic

    You guys are awesome.  After thinking about it last night, I'm gonna go pick up the AMNPS and get it started today.  That will tell me exactly what I need to know for next time.  I'm hoping the flavor is there and it turns out great, I'll definitely post some more pics as it progresses!
     
  20. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Excellent Decision!!!

    As soon as you order an AMNPS & Pellets from Todd, he'll get it right out. You'll have it in no time!!

    Bear
     

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