Big Green Egg - EGGhead Forum - The Ultimate Cooking Experience...
We hope everyone enjoyed their Fourth of July weekend and is excited for more warm weather grilling! This week, we’ll be making these two burgers: Stuffed Portobello Mushroom and Caribbean Chicken, and also eating lots of these Ice Cream Sandwiches in honor of National Ice Cream Month! It's time to think about getting out to one of the many #EGGfests around the country - see a list here

Makin\' Bacon

Boilermaker BenBoilermaker Ben Posts: 1,956
edited November -1 in EggHead Forum
Just before the storm hit last week, I picked up an 8 pound pork belly. I had had problems finding belly on short notice, most of the local butchers said they would have to order it. So on a whim, I stopped in at an asian market, thinking perhaps they would have some. I was right. They had belly in all shapes and sizes: thin sliced, thick sliced, slabs, 3" hunks...but no whole bellies. But the stuff that was pre-sliced looked great! Thick layers of fat, plenty of meat. So I asked the butcher, who disappeared into the back. He removed the rib bones for me, and packaged it up. $2.09/lb...not too shabby. When I got it home, however, I was disappointed. It was nowhere near as thick as the other pre-sliced stuff they had behind the counter, with much less fat, and he had left the skin on.

I skinned it, cut it in half mixed up Ruhlman/Polcyn's basic cure, and put each half into a plastic bag with the prescribed amount of cure. I was worried about how little cure the recipe called for. Their instructions call for dredging the belly in the cure, ensuring even coating, OR, for small 3-5 lb bellies, putting them in a ziplock bag, adding 50 grams of cure, and shaking to coat. 50 grams is NOT very much, and I'm sure I would have had more, if I had dredged. But I followed the directions, and moved on. To one bag, I added garlic, black pepper and crumbled bay leaf. To the other, I added brown sugar (the only syrup I had on hand was imitation maple). Then into the fridge for 7 days.

After a week of daily massages(the pork, not me), I rinsed the bellies thoroughly, dried them, and set them in the fridge to dry for about 18 hours. Last night, I smoked them over apple wood chunks at 225ish degrees until the internal temps were 150.
IMG_6295.jpg

IMG_6303.jpg

My fears about not adding enough cure turned out to be needless. As you can see, it's plenty pink.
Pretty, ain't they?
IMG_6308.jpg

I sliced off some rather thick slices, and fried them up...a little QC. The brown sugar bacon is good, but not really sweet at all. Maybe maple syrup would have imparted more flavor, but I'm not sure. It was just kind of...bacon...

But the savory bacon is out of this world. Truly amazing stuff.

Both slices were kind of tough, though. I'm not sure if it's a matter of the quality of belly I started with, or my complete inexperience frying bacon that thick (I only have limited experience frying bacon at all, regardless of thickness. Normally I bake my bacon.)

IMG_6313.jpg

And since I had my camera out, I caught a pic of our own personal in-house Elly-ton John concert last night.

IMG_6287.jpg

Comments

  • Wow! That looks interesting...I must give that a try! Cute kid too!
  • AZRPAZRP Posts: 10,116
    Your little one sure has grown up since we last saw her! When I did my first belly, I hot smoked it to 155. I didn't care for the texture after frying it and it didn't fry very well. It didn't render much fat and burned to the pan. Second try I cold smoked it and it made all the difference in the world. It fried up much like store bought bacon. -RP
  • MCRMCR Posts: 270
    Nice post with the naration and the photos

    Bacon is on my short list...

    Thanks
    Marc
  • This stuff did render quite a bit of fat, which was nice. It's also interesting that it's a completely different color than rest of the bacon grease in the jar I keep in the fridge. I'm going to try cold smoking next time.

    Elly is growing like a weed. She set that Winnie the Pooh book up on her piano, like it was sheet music, and proceeded to sing a song about the characters in the book. It's the first time I've ever heard her make up a song with words.
  • It was on my short list for a long time...just never got around to doing it, until last week. I promise not to wait until the next 20-inch blizzard to make another batch.
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    thick cut home-cured bacon will seem "tougher" than supermarket bacon, and in a way it is, but for a good reason.

    supermarket bacon is usually pickled, injected and cured for maybe less than an hour, and all that added moisture stays, adding weight. thin cut, it will be incredibly limp, and hisses and pops as the water boils off before it gets to sizzling.

    home cured bacon will have less water, because none is added and because some small amount is drawn out while curing (most of that goes back in, but some is lost). it's denser, and firmer.

    try cutting it thin and baking it. it is different, some say better than supermarket. if you are used to the mass produced stuff, it's hard not to think you did something wrong. you've been having bad bacon for so many years, it has become the standard by which you are judging the good stuff :laugh:
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • Different is fine, but tough is tough, and this was tough...like hard to bite through tough. Is the direction of the slice going to be important? As you can see, I sliced across the ribs. I only took one slice from each, last night. Will probably break out the slicer tomorrow night, and start playing around.

    I think I recall you saying after one of your previous batches, that the sweet variety wasn't very sweet. Have you tried it again?
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    well. it is what it is. it is tougher. the thick cut exacerbates it.

    you need to load up on the sugar for it to be sweet. even the fake maple syrup would have helped, since it's corn syrup and flavoring. my first batch i added more sugar than necessary, and the second batch of sweet followed the recipe to a 'T'. first was decidedly sweeter. the second more subtle

    did they trim it for you? the top of it looks a little rough.
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • He removed the ribs, but left the rib meat, which is what you're seeing on the top. Makes for some odd looking slices.
  • Your not kidding! I would have had to clean it up..
  • BigABigA Posts: 1,157
    NICE!! :) maken bacon and to have a concert at the same time is pretty great!! :) :cheer:
  • WOW that looks amazing! I have never thought of trying bacon, but you have inspired me! Now I've just GOTTA try it!
  • That looks great. I'd like to try that some day
  • 2Fategghead2Fategghead Posts: 9,623
    Great post Ben. Very cute little girl. :)

    Good to hear about your job curing and smoking. Do you plan to package some bacon up to freeze for later?

    Last week I found a butcher (Roy) who is processing whole hogs. Roy told me to call him for some bellies yesterday but, I got no answer when I called. Later yesterday evening he did return my call and informed me he was called to jury duty. I will have to get with him next week. I can't wait. He first told me the bellies are about 25 pounds each. They will be boneless and skinless and bellies for breakfast not lean. He told me $1.50 per pound so we will soon find out. I would like to cure mine sweet and apple or hickory smoked. I was thinking I would make enough to foodsaver and freeze.
  • FidelFidel Posts: 10,168
    Bake your slices on a rack over a baking sheet at 325&deg and it will make all the difference in the world.

    Think it through. This is basically the same meat that makes up a slab of ribs so we need to try and cook it in a similar way. If you lay a slab or spares in a skillet over medium-high heat I don't think the end product would be all that appetizing either. It has to be cooked slowly to make it good. Baking accomplished this and also allows the fat that is rendered to drip away. The lean strips in your bacon will be much better and the fatty strips will be more airy like pork rinds. Makes for a very nice combination.
  • Nice. Any idea what breed of pig that's coming from?

    I'll definitely be freezing most of the bacon. It's 7 pounds...I don't think we go through 7 pounds of storebought bacon in a year. You should definitely consider making some savory bacon as well. It really tastes fantastic, and will be good in the potato soup I'll be making in a few days.
  • Normally I do bake my bacon, unless I'm in a rush for some reason. Last night, I was in a rush. I've tried baking directly in a jelly roll pan, as well as with a rack, and I definitely prefer the rack.

    However, I don't necessarily think your reasoning stands up. The thickness of a cut of meat affects cooking method just as much as the area of the animal it comes from. A 1/2" thick ribeye can be cooked in a skillet over a stovetop with wonderful results, a rib roast could not.

    I believe the biggest contributor to the toughness may have been how I sliced the bacon.
  • Being concerned about the toughness of my first couple slices of bacon, I asked Ruhlman. He is quite active on twitter, and I happened to catch him while he was tweeting, so I got a response within moments.
    @ruhlman Bacon! Correct direction to slice? Across the ribs, or with the ribs? http://twitpic.com/3ybp0b
    @BoilermakerBen bacon usually sliced with ribs from top of the belly down.

    I'm not sure if "top down" means chest to groin or ribs to teats, but I do know that I cut across the ribs, not with the ribs. I will cut a couple new strips this afternoon, and see if they're less tough.
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    fidel isn't very bright. i'm sure he's way off base on this. :ermm:

    try cold smoking next time. don't forget, hot smoking to 150 does cook it to a certain extent.
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • beesbees Posts: 335
    Great looking bacon.Elly is going to break some hearts, but she'll be able to sing them a farewell song,
    Randy
  • Mr HollowayMr Holloway Posts: 2,013
    Looks good
    Just got a heads up on an asian market
    Going to check them out this weekend :)

    Shane
  • 2Fategghead2Fategghead Posts: 9,623
    Hey Ben, I have no idea what breed of pig they are processing. So far I have been contacting Roy by phone. When I meet him i'll be sure to ask more questions.

    I am planing to use some Buckboard Bacon Cure from Hi Mountain. I don't have any other recipes.

    I read your post about your meat being tough and the way you smoke your bacon. Are you going to try to cold smoke one of your bellies?

    I'm interested in curing meat and like you learning. I have made BBB from two 10 pound butts already and we like that real good. I'm am enjoying making my own food. Tim ;)
  • No, I hot smoked both portions. Next time I make bacon I'll consider cold smoking.
Sign In or Register to comment.