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Bacon, a love story (pic heavy)

JeffersonianJeffersonian Posts: 4,244
edited 4:02PM in EggHead Forum
After a week of curing, turning, drying and smoking, my first foray into the world of charcuterie is complete. Here's a photo essay of what was done.

Pork belly prep

Bought a frozen pork belly from a local butcher shop, thawed and trimmed it square:
DSC01368.jpg

It was then rubbed down with a curing mix of 1/4 cup kosher salt, 2 tsp pink salt (Prague powder #1), 1/4 cup brown sugar and 2 tsp ground black pepper, put into a plastic bag and put into a refrigerator for seven days, flipping and redistributing the cure every other day:
DSC01370.jpg

Smoking

I pulled the cured belly out after seven days, then returned to the fridge for a day to dry, uncovered on a rack. It then went onto my LBGE around noon today for what Ruhlman calls a "hot smoke." I put the belly on as soon as the fire got going to put as much cold smoke onto it as possible. It was just RO lump with maybe 5-6 chunks of sugar maple for smoke.
DSC01374.jpg

It took a while for the Egg to reach 200* dome, but the smoke was dense and sweet:
DSC01375.jpg

I had three thermometers working, the DigiQ:
DSC01377.jpg

An AccuRite on the grate:
DSC01376.jpg

And another in the thick end of the belly itself (not shown). I was aiming for about 180* at the grate, which I was able to reach in about an hour with the dome set at 200*. Eventually, the grate and dome temperatures began to converge, so I gradually dropped the dome to 185* and the grate temp held right at 180-181* for the remainder of the smoke.

The smoke lasted maybe 70-80 minutes, after which it was just lump and very little smoke coming from the Egg. Overall, the cook lasted right at six (6) hours to get the internal temperture of the bacon to 150*. I pulled and let cool:
DSC01378.jpg
DSC01379.jpg

I had to cut it to get it into the Ziplock, so here's a section of the finished product:
DSC01380.jpg

We just couldn't resist trying it out, so I put it into a frying pan at low temperature to render the fat and brown the bacon nicely:
DSC01381.jpg

Verdict: Very good, and a trifle salty. I definitely need a good slicer if I'm going to do this again...these were little bacon steaks. Not that anyone was complaining.

Thanks to Stripsteak for inspiration, guidance and patience.
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Comments

  • eenie meenieeenie meenie Posts: 4,392
    Thanks for posting Jeffersonian, your bacon looks divine.
    I've been intriqued by the recent curing posts and am awaiting my book Charcuterie: THe Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. I've placed an order for a pork belly when a coworkers pig is butchered, which should be soon. I am looking forward to giving it a try. If your post is any indication, I hope to be well rewarded.
  • BashBash Posts: 1,011
    Thanks for posting, I think :blink:

    Last thing I need is another toy (slicer), and the next to last thing I need is the fat from bacon.

    Drooling, anyway. :P

    Thanks a pantload! :S
  • BADaQBADaQ Posts: 159
    Very nice.
  • JLOCKHART29JLOCKHART29 Posts: 5,897
    WOW! Nothing better than bacon than home made bacon! Outstanding job, write up and pics! When you want me to show for breakfast?! :woohoo:
  • JeffersonianJeffersonian Posts: 4,244
    Any time you want, JL, but you better get here before my arteries close off for good :laugh:
  • JeffersonianJeffersonian Posts: 4,244
    That's the book I'm using...an excellent resource. Pastrami's next, I can hardly wait.
  • Gator Bait Gator Bait Posts: 5,244
     
    Fantastic post!!! Great looking bacon, great photos and wonderful write up. Great job!!! Thanks for sharing.

    Gator

     
  • JeffersonianJeffersonian Posts: 4,244
    It's a given: We all need more apparatus and more pork fat. Thanks, Bash.
  • JeffersonianJeffersonian Posts: 4,244
    Thanks, 'Bama. Congrats on the championship, BTW.
  • JeffersonianJeffersonian Posts: 4,244
    Thanks, Gator, I think this is going to be a definite "do again."
  • Beautiful - great color

    Thanks for sharing Brad
  • Dimple's MomDimple's Mom Posts: 1,740
    Great write-ups and photos. I feel like I could follow this on my own from what you've posted. It looks delish! What kind of slicer would you get?
  • JeffersonianJeffersonian Posts: 4,244
    Thanks, Frank, and it wasn't that hard. Hardest part was getting the fire to stay lit at the outset. Once I had that, it was a fairly easy smoke. I recommend it.
  • JeffersonianJeffersonian Posts: 4,244
    Thanks, DM. I have no idea about a slicer...got a recommendation?
  • Looks FANTASTIC, I like salty bacon so just send it on to me if your not happy LOL.
  • Looks FANTASTIC, I like salty bacon so just send it on to me if your not happy LOL.
  • JeffersonianJeffersonian Posts: 4,244
    I'm afraid this slab isn't long for the world, BGD, but you're welcome to stop on by if you're ever in St. Louis for some.
  • Grandpas GrubGrandpas Grub Posts: 14,226
     
    Thanks for the pictorial looks fantastic.

    Kent
  • JeffersonianJeffersonian Posts: 4,244
    Thanks, Kent, I'm really liking the Ruhlman book. After the pastrami, I'm thinking of investing in some good grinding and stuffing equipment for sausage.
  • PurposePurpose Posts: 83
    That looks amazing
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428
    I think the saltiness could have been cured (pardon the pun) with a soak out before the rest.

    You know what??... I just took another look at the recipe and there is no mention of a soak out in the one from Charcuterie. I guess I never noticed that before, because I do it automatically on Buckboard and belly bacon.
    Happy Trails
    ~thirdeye~

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • cookn bikercookn biker Posts: 13,407
    Thanks for sharing!! Great job on your post! You just got me one step closer to trying this!
    Molly
    Colorado Springs
    "Loney Queen"
    "Respect your fellow human being, treat them fairly, disagree with them honestly, enjoy their friendship, explore your thoughts about one another candidly, work together for a common goal and help one another achieve it."
    Bill Bradley; American hall of fame basketball player, Rhodes scholar, former U.S. Senator from New Jersey
    LBGE, MBGE, SBGE , MiniBGE and a Mini Mini BGE
  • NoVA BillNoVA Bill Posts: 3,005
    Hey Jeff..., sweet! Great lookin' pics and essay. A slicer was a good add to my kitchen.

    PS thank goodness for Wikipedia:Charcuterie (pronounced /ʃɑrˌkuːtəˈriː, ʃɑrˈkuːtəri/; French: [ʃaʁkyˈtʁi], from chair 'flesh' and cuit 'cooked') is the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products such as bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, pâtés, and confit, primarily from pork. :laugh:
  • JeffersonianJeffersonian Posts: 4,244
    Excellent idea, Thirdeye. I was thinking of shortening the cure next time, but was worried that would affect the depth of the cure and not just the flavor. A day-long soak is just the ticket, I think. Many thanks.
  • JeffersonianJeffersonian Posts: 4,244
    It was pretty darn good, and it feels good doing something the way it's been done for eons. Well, aside from the electronics, that is. :P
  • JeffersonianJeffersonian Posts: 4,244
    It was so simple, really, other than wrestling with keeping the Egg cool enough at lighting. Once you have a reliable, low fire, you're on rails.
  • Big'unBig'un Posts: 5,909
    Great job and wonderful documentation. I'll be try that soon. Congrats!
  • JeffersonianJeffersonian Posts: 4,244
    Do you have a recommendation for a slicer? I'm looking at a Chef's Choice consumer-grade unit right now, but if it's going to gag on the cold fat of bacon, I'll step it up a notch.

    BTW: Don't do Wiki, do AMAZON and get the book half the forum has ordered since Stripsteak's "Bacon and Scotch" post, amigo.
  • BeliBeli Posts: 10,751
    Loved it.....the frying pic is a keeper....
  • JeffersonianJeffersonian Posts: 4,244
    Thanks, Big'un, and I have to get some of that sauce everyone's raving about.
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