Well, you asked for it. Here, Smoky answers the most commonly asked questions. He is direct, honest and offers an insight into the time proven techniques to preparing great barbecue that is unavailable elsewhere. If you are unable to locate the exact answer you are seeking, feel free to contact him directly and ask!
He returns all questions . . . . . . .
Topic: Makin' bacon . . . . From: Rob,
Subject: Re: Curing Bacon
Hi. Smoky!! I just found your site. I have been looking for something like this for a while (this goes to the bookmark). Anyway I have a fresh pig that I would like to get the bacon cured and smoked. What is the best way to do this?? Your advice would be greatly appreciated. Sincerely,
Makin' Bacon, Rob
Are you sure you want to do this??? The best thing to do with a fresh pig is to teach her some manners.
I am going to tell you how. If you do it and ENJOY it, there are several S&M groups on the 'net that would like to meet you.
To answer first, your last question, "What is the best way," LET SOMEBODY ELSE DO IT!
Or, to quote one of your antecedents, Roger Bacon, "Do not let a pig hog your time." Curing bacon is a vacuum into which time is more greedily sucked than light into a black hole.
But, since you insist, here it is. I must advise that it is as easy to do 500 lbs as it is to do 5 lbs. If you do 500 lbs, eat some and don't die, send me some.
There are two parts to the process. First, you have to cure the bacon. (I guess that, technically, that is the second part since you must first bring home the bacon - even though it is not, stictly speaking, "bacon" at the time.) Second, you must smoke it.
First things, first. You need a wooden, preferably oak, box, keg or barrel into which the amount of bacon which you intend to cure will neatly, but not loosely fit. (That sentence is not nearly as complicated as what follows.) A sturdy food grade (clean, clean and you, personally, know what was in it before) plastic box would also work.
For each 100 lbs of pork bellies (it is more dramatic and, perhaps, productive to speculate on them on the Chicago Board of Trade. Maybe not, but there never were any guarantees with attempts to cure pork either.) mix well:
5 lbs of non iodized salt. Sold as pickling salt or kosher salt. Use fine ground not ice cream type salt. All, I mean all, salt is sea salt. So don't buy, at extravagant prices, anything labeled, "sea salt." A no brainer!!
3 lbs of sugar. I recommend dark brown sugar.
3 oz. Saltpeter. (Potassium nitrate) ***an essential preservative which also fixes the bright red color - regardless of what ignorance you have read about it, it is safe and effective. Those who rail against it would never have been born (hmmm) if their parents had not had the benefit of it. Wasn't in the GI food either.*** --And as an bonus -- an essential constituent of black gunpowder.
Put a layer of the mixture in the bottom of the container. (Are you still sure you want to do this?)
Pack in layer of pork belly. Pound it flat. "Rub it in, rub it in!" Repeat with bellies and salt until you get a belly full or the meat runs out. Cover the top with a good layer of salt. Pack everything firmly. Get all the air out. You do not want to eat pig with the vapors.
Close the lid and have a drink. If you have easy access to a dependable psychologist, you may want to casually discuss your fixation.
It will take about 1 1/2 days per pound to cure. BUT, in about 7-10 days, depending upon the temperature, you will need to reverse the stack (top to bottom) and add any leftover mix. Drink some more. Check with the Doc again.
After everything is cured, except you, take out the pre-bacon, stick a hole in one corner, put a 3-4' strong cotton cord through and tie it off.
Now, hang the PB for about 2 weeks, in a 40-50 degree F., dry atmosphere and let them drip.
Wash with hot water and wipe clean, then cold smoke (embryionic, wannabee barbecuers please note) at 70-90 degrees for 10 - 15 days. White oak 80%, hickory 20%)
Don't worry about the mold. That is natural. Wipe it off.
Actually, the safety hazard is minute. Unless you have a "no knows nose" bad pork will reveal itself to you in irresistible fashion.
Now, how about let's corn some beef? That is the only sensible use for beef brisket.
Let me know if your or the bacon gets cured.