Sunday, June 5, 2016

Making Bacon - Part 2

Previously, I set out to make bacon.  This installment (backdated by 4 months...) is about the follow-up to that.

The pork belly sat in the bag of brine, the refrigerator, for a week.  Every day I'd flip it over and squish it around to keep things mixed and to make sure that there was adequate coverage.

After a week, onto the grill it went.

I don't have the necessary setup for cold-smoking (and it's dangerous), so I hot-smoked the bacon on the grill (while smoking a chicken, which is what's in the lower-right corner of the photo).

As you can see, I didn't rinse off the pork belly, and it has many chunks of pepper stuck to it.

How long on the grill?  Until it's safe to eat, per the food pasteurization guidelines here.  That was over an hour on my ~225 deg F (105-110 deg C) grill, putting out lots of smoke.

For the smoke, I used a mix of cherry and hickory chunks added to the Kingsford briquettes (big blue bags).

After smoking, I let it cool, and then put it back into the refrigerator, to get it cold (35 deg F / 2 deg C).  When cold, the meat is much easier to slice, as the fats are more solid.

I used a filet knife and aimed for "thick cut", which my unpracticed hand only did an ok job at.

The important part of the curing is to make sure that the nitrates got all the way to the center of the meat.  As it came off the grill, it had the classic nitrate-pink center.  And since the meat was up at 160 deg F at the end of smoking, it should be fully cooked.

It looks pink all the way through.  But I guess we really won't find out until it goes into a hot pan...

Et voila!

Pink all the way through, and it tastes delicious.

The outside ends are very smoky.  If you like a little smoke, you might just trim those off.  They were my favorite part.  ;)