As promised in: http://hobbyfarmlife.com/farm-raised-home-made-italian-sausge/
Just discovered I had originally put it down as a half cup of salt when it should have been a quarter cup. If you have tried this recipe and found it salty the fault is mine not the recipe. MY APOLOGIES!
Assuming you are one of the many that have a real appreciation for the taste of bacon but have never smoked your own or had the privilege of easting some that someone else smoked at home you have missed the true taste of (smoked bacon). Yes that bought in your local supermarket is good and believe me when I say I have and still eat my share. As I understand it the commercially sold bacon in the grocery store us a wet brine process complete with liquid smoke to give it that smoked flavor we are accustomed to. But there is a totally different taste experience awaiting you if you are willing to spend about 15 minutes mixing and applying the seasonings and then going in and turning the side of belly over every couple of days for about a week and about 2 hours on the smoker. The most difficult part in all actuality will probably be finding the (fresh) belly. Belly? Yes that is the part of the hog bacon comes from. The outside of the ribs extending down partway to the bottom of the belly. Most supermarkets do not carry it fresh and will not or cannot order just one 5 pound piece for you. A local butcher-shop or meat market will be your best chance.
The seasonings? They are probably already in your kitchen right now. With the exception of one at least. You will need salt of course. A half cup will do. A generous half cup of either maple syrup, of your choice, (OR) not and, 1/2 cup brown sugar, OR, 1/2 cup of honey of the variety of your choice. Whichever you prefer. ( Again let me make sure here, that is one of those three not all of them). And here is the hard one. One teaspoon of pink salt. If you are not familiar with it pink salt is a preservative but is also very important in maintaining the color of the bacon. It is not absolutely necessary but without it the meat will turn a greyish color. The taste is the same and there is nothing wrong with it just that it doesn’t look as appealing. As far as the preserving function of it if you enjoy it as much as we do spoilage will not be a problem. It will not be around long enough to go bad.
So What do we need again?
1/2 half cup maple syrup, brown sugar, OR honey (your choice)
1/4 cup salt, table, kosher or sea salt, doesn’t matter
1 tsp pink salt
OH and a container larger enough to put a 5 lb. slab of pork belly in. Something in a plastic container (not metal) that will hold this usually winds up eating up a lot of refrigerator space so I use a 2 gal. plastic freezer bag. Buy them at that local grocery store where you couldn’t get the belly. Just one is all you need, unless doing more than one belly at a time, so buy a small box. They come in handy so a few extra won’t go to waste.
For the pink salt you may have to go to somewhere such as Cabellas or Bass Pro or you can order it online. If you know someone that is into hunting and smoking check with them. Again it is not necessary to have it but it does effect the appearance.
Take your salt and pink salt and sweetener mixture and rub it on the whole piece of belly. Both sides and the edges. Rub it in good! Then take the syrup honey or brown sugar and slather it all over it as well. Again making sure all surfaces are covered and the mixture is well massaged in. Place it in the plastic bag seal it and place in the refrigerator for one (1) week. I like to turn it every couple of days and about half way thru you can open the bag just reach in and again rub the seasonings into the meat again. Do both sides and the edges.
NO PINK SALT? Note the greyish color. It will still taste the same and be just as good just not as eye appealing.
The pink salt was used on this one. It looks more like what we are accustomed to
Hopefully you planned this so your 7 days are up on a day when you and the people you like to share with are all available. Come on you are going to want to try it immediately. You know you will! Wash off the excess salt and sample as is. Just enough to tell if it is too salty. if so soak in hot water tap hot for about an hour but I think you will find it to be fine. No it is not yet smoked but it is bacon so let’s find out what it taste like. It will not look the same as store bought if you didn’t use the pink salt. You can eat it as is or smoke it.
What kind of wood? I prefer apple or cherry chips. Both are good the apple seems a little easier to find. I like the lighter woods because you may not eat all 5 pounds at one sitting. Maybe not? The heavier wood, hickory and oak tend to have a stronger flavor if not eaten immediately after cooking and as I said you may not eat all the bacon at one time. For those of you in a more southern location citrus wood is a good light cooking wood as well but as far as I know it is not chipped and sold commercially. But stick with the known for your first time.
A low fire is all that is needed. Your chips have already been soaking, probably overnight, and are ready to go. RIGHT? A few pieces of charcoal to produce the heat needed both for the meat and the chips and you are ready to go. Now for those of you with the goas or electric smokers you know what to do. About 180 degree for about two hours should do it. Again a quality check is in order. Actually a late breakfast or brunch is in order.
A word of caution here! Don’t do like I have done in the past. Don’t walk off and leave it. Stay close to the smoker. If your smoker is like mine and the heat source is directly beneath the meat the drippings from the bacon can get into the chips and charcoal and suddenly a roaring fire develop quickly. I have a hard time just being there so off I went to accomplish something else. When I returned about ten minutes latter you might say the bacon had gone up in smoke. Literally!!! Get you a good book or the news paper or a project you con work on near the smoker and keep an eye on it as things progress. It is worth the effort.
As I said earlier these recipes are available all over the internet and I did not create this one. I don’t know who did but it is short sweet and the results are worth the effort! You may want to try some variations later but do this first.
Enjoy it, we do! Let us know when you do.