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cold smoking bacon

SieveSieve Posts: 9
edited February 2012 in Pork
Has anyone ever cold smoked a pork belly for cutting into bacon?
Looking for advice on time and technique.


  • I posted this a few years ago on the old BGE forum, hopefully the pics will show. Bacon on the egg comes out great. As I write this I have a 8 ln. Slab curing in the fridge for next week.

    I finally got my hands on a 4 pound pork belly last week. I have been wanting to try my hand at making bacon for awhile but until recently I could not find any pork bellies. I could get them at my local Restaurant Depot but I had no need for 25 plus lbs. of pork bellies. I cured the meat with a Maple syrup, Brown Sugar cure that I found in Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn. This is a great book on the craft of Curing, Salting and Smoking meats.

    Here is the pork belly all slathered with the cure. I left the skin on as per the books instructions.

    In a Ziplock back for a nice 7 day rest in the fridge.

    Fast Forward 7 days later and after a thorough rinsing a cured pork belly.

    Get the egg to 200 degrees for a hot smoke and put in 3 nice pieces of Apple chunks for smoke. Three 3 hours later the meat was pulled with a internal temp of 150 degrees.

    Sliced off the skin.

    Here is the finished product sliced and packaged.
    I have to admit that this bacon was some of the best I have had in a long time. The bacon was not salty like you get in the package store brands and it had a nicer flavor and a aroma then the bacon we buy at a butcher. Both my wife and daughter loved it and they are looking forward to making some BLT's later this week.
    Everyday is Saturday and tomorrow is always Sunday.
  • ribmasterribmaster Posts: 209
    edited February 2012

    Only slightly off topic but there is an srticle on "buckboard bacon" on third eyes sight call "playing with fire and smoke".


    I grill therefore I am.....not hungy.
  • IrishDevlIrishDevl Posts: 1,390
    Retired, that looks great, thanks for sharing.  I have been meaning to smoke some bacon and wanted a good book, I will look this one up.
  • thechief96thechief96 Posts: 1,908
    edited February 2012



    They just had it on sale at Walmart for 20 bucks. Mine should be here today. They still may be on sale.

    Yep still on sale.

    Dave San Jose, CA The Duke of Loney
  • IrishDevlIrishDevl Posts: 1,390
    Chief, thank you for this, I had a B&N pick-up in store today ordered and it was $35.  Just logged onto Walmart and got it for $20.  Thanks again, looking forward to reading this.
  • SieveSieve Posts: 9
    Thanks for the advice. Plan on trying it this weekend.

    Ribmaster: thanks for turning me onto that website.  
    FYI all: Here's a recipe from that site which is similar to what retired railroader posted

  • That looks pretty easy actually...I'm gonna give this a try soon. Thanks for posting links!
  • GrannyX4GrannyX4 Posts: 1,479
    We just did the same bacon from the same cookbook last week and the bacon turned out real good. Some one recommended (I think it was stike) that I cut off the skin before curing and smoking for more flavor in the bacon. I cooked the first batch on the egg but we really liked it fried in a skillet much better. The bacon fries so nice and it doesn't pop and spit like store bought bacon.

    Husband is having turkey and bacon sandwiches for dinner- good eats.
    Every day is a bonus day and every meal is a banquet in Winter Springs, Fl !
  • onedbguruonedbguru Posts: 1,550
    Every year, as my father tells it, Thanksgiving day was "hog killing day".  After butchering the hogs, my grandfather cured the pork bellies for bacon in a smokehouse that was a little 6x10 shed with a small pot-belly stove.  He would salt, pepper and brown sugar the outside, hang it in the smokehouse and keep a small fire burning for 2-3 weeks. I don't believe he said it never got above 150-180 ambient temp.  - and there was no smoke stack/vent so the smoke stayed in the house - hence: smokehouse.  :)  He typically used hickory or apple wood and a bit of oak just to keep the coals lit. I have often thought of doing it the "old fashioned" way, maybe one of these days...   I also remember having to go out to the smokehouse to retrieve a slab for breakfast.  Eggs, bacon, sausage gravy and biscuits, pancakes with real maple syrup and in the summer time, fresh tomatoes YUUUMMM!!!  A thick slice of juicy tomato on a light and fluffy biscuit dripping with butter, you would think you died and went to Heaven.
  • SieveSieve Posts: 9
    Meat source: butchered red wattle hog

    1. Started with a trimmed and squared pork belly weighing approximately 3.5 lbs.
    2. Coated it with cure, placed in a sealed plastic bag and kept cool for 12 days (ideal is 10, but had to time it for when I could get around to smoking it.  No ill effects noticed.)
    3. Removed from bag, rinsed, and kept cool on a rack for 1 day so that pellicle formed.
    4. Started a small fire (about 1 cup worth of charcoal) and mounded on the fire grate.
    5. Topped coals with about half a handful of soaked hickory chunks.
    6. Lower draft door open about 1/4 inch. Top Vent cracked open.
    7. Used platesetter inverted to prevent any direct cooking.
    8. Grill grate on top of inverted platesetter (so there was about 4 inches or so of airspace below grate).
    9. Goal was to maintain a barely smoldering bed of coals; enough to make smoke and cause the hickory chunks to make smoke, but not to generate much heat - 50-100 degrees F.
    10. Checked on the fire every 1-2 hours.  Threw on more hickory every time.  Surprisingly, didn't have to add many more coals.  Maybe once halfway through.
    11. After about 8 hours, color of the pork belly was changing noticeably from the smoke.
    12. Smoked until it was the color I liked, which took about 13 hours.  Probably could have gone a little more or a little less with no ill effects.
    13. Froze the pork belly
    14. Sliced it into rashers
    Result: Best bacon ever.

    I should have taken pictures of the process, but they would have been similar to Retired Railroader's above

    My pork belly didn't have any nitrates in the cure, so I was a little worried about keeping it at 50-100 degrees for that many hours.  I was rolling the dice against food-borne pathogens.  Not sure I would do that again.

  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    re:  I was rolling the dice against food-borne pathogens

    salted, in a smoke filled environment...
    no worries.

    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • IrishDevlIrishDevl Posts: 1,390
    Retired - I got the book and started my read.  Great stuff, enjoying it so far.
  • SieveSieve Posts: 9
    I picked a copy up also. Looking forward to diving in.
  • SieveSieve Posts: 9
    I know. That's why I was worried about the microbes.
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    you don't need notrite for cold smoking.

    you can salt cure a ham and hang it at room temp for two years if you want.  salt cured belly is fine.

    but the nitrite does what salt can't do, and that's give you the cured texture, color and flavor we tend to expect.

    i'm not BS-ing when i say that nitrite is not needed for cold smoking.  you didn't make sausage, you had a whole piece of meat.  there is a big difference
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597

    not sure where you got the recipe, but as an example, in Charcuterie there's a simple recipe for duck prosciutto.  after a short overnight cure in salt only (no nitrite), the duck is simply washed and hung to dry for a week at room temp.

    your cured belly went a week in salt, and is thoroughly salt-cured.  it could hang at room temp, like lardo or pancetta, for example.  you then put it into a smoke-filled environment, further making it inhospitable to microbes.

    seriously, and no guessing involved, your meat was absolutely fine and had no risk of microbial action.
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • So I made a rookie mistake. I let the temp get too high on the internal temp when I went to soccer practice. I came back and I thought it would take more than three hours to get to 150,and the Maverick read 165. Should I expect shoe leather?
  • SieveSieve Posts: 9
    Not sure.  I doubt it will have the full smokiness in the flavor.  It might be a little crispy on the outside and a little moister on the inside than ideal.  Likely edible though.  Let us know.
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    You'll be fine
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • IrishDevlIrishDevl Posts: 1,390
    I had a bacon get to 180-185 once because of the same thing.  No issue, cooked just like bacon
  • So, direct or indirect? Sieve used indirect but also had it going for a really long time. Is there a recommendation? I've got about a 2.5 lb. belly curing that should be ready to smoke on Sunday.

    I'm also assuming that it's low enough temp for smoking that fat rendering shouldn't be a major issue, but if I should be worried, let me know.

  • jeevmon said:

    So, direct or indirect? Sieve used indirect but also had it going for a really long time. Is there a recommendation? I've got about a 2.5 lb. belly curing that should be ready to smoke on Sunday.

    Indirect.  You want to smoke it, not broil it.  I used a platesetter upside down.  
    All I know is that it worked great for me.  If someone thinks direct may work, maybe they'll comment.

    I'm also assuming that it's low enough temp for smoking that fat rendering shouldn't be a major issue, but if I should be worried, let me know. 

    The rendering was very slow and nothing to worry about.

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