Last time I wrote about pork I had to figure out where to start on a huge amount that came in all at once. I dove in and made sausages and more sausages and even more sausages! But now I turn my attention to the sides. I have 6, 10-14 lb (somewhat) squared-off blocks of fatty meat on my hands. This doesn't phase me because bacon is easy, really. And no, you don't need a fancy smoker if you fake it with a bit of liquid smoke and your oven.
Okay, before we get into it I'd like to take this moment to show you the be all end all of cookbooks for this homesteader. I tell ya, the recipes in this book make my heart sing. Crackers. Marshmallows. Bacon. I mean come on.
(Sorry I got sidetracked.) So the difficult part of this process is - the process. It takes a minimum 7 days before it's ready to slice, cook and eat. Pure torture to anyone who loves bacon. Have you ever gone to a restaurant and wondered why the picture of the 'grand' breakfast only has two slices of bacon? What's grand about that?! "Uh, can I order a plate of bacon with a side of eggs..." Am I right?!
Original recipe by Karen Solomon - jam it, pickle it, cure it: and other cooking projects.
Cheater's Smoked Bacon
3 lbs pork belly
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp molasses
2 tbsp kosher salt
1 teas curing salt
1 teas black pepper
(You can double or triple this recipe for larger sides.)
Rinse the pork belly and pat it dry. The average side of pork is around three pounds, but for this post you'll have to deal with my mondo-sized cuts and so yours probably won't look the same. This is 9 lbs after I trimmed some fat off. Dang.
Mix the sugar with the molasses...
...then add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Rub (all) the mixture into the meat and store it in a large plastic bag in the refrigerator for 7 days, turning it once a day and rubbing the mixture in. On day 7 check for stiffness in the meat. It should be somewhat stiff all over. If necessary, add more salt and leave it another day.
Once it's ready, preheat the oven to 200° and rinse the meat well. Brush a tiny bit of liquid smoke on both sides of the meat. Place it on a rack inside a shallow pan or baking sheet (to catch the juices) with the fat side up. Roast for 2 - 2 1/2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 150°.
Slice a piece off and fry it. At this point you're just testing to see if more liquid smoke should be added* (to your liking). If all is good, square up the meat to make slicing easier. Save the excess for a big pot of beans, split pea soup, Southern-style collard greens, etc. The bacon will last about a week in the refrigerator, 3 months in the freezer. Enjoy!!!
These perfect slices are the result of a commercial slicer I found on ebay.com. Yep. More cheatin' goin' on.
Blow the whistle! Bacon's on!
*Be careful here. Adding too much smoke gives the side a saltiness that could overpower the bacon.