Although I have so far only made this as back bacon, I think its a great candidate for doing a proper ‘American’ style belly. Those crazy yanks tend to hot smoke (or oven cook) a freshly cured belly, and then slice and fry/grill as required when cold.
A Word on Salt
You should never use table salt for curing as it usually has iodine in it, and it’s too fine. You can use sea salt but I avoid it as it will have other minerals that may or may not be good for your cure. Many recipes online call for ‘kosher salt’. This is just American chat for salt with a larger grain, rock or flake, much like Maldon – however Maldon is expensive, so I recommend grabbing a box of this and keep it in the back of the larder for curing purposes, will last ages! Either way, just stick to a good quality, pure, rock or flake based salt.
- Before you begin, consider cutting the pork up into manageable pieces. I prefer to do lumps that fit into a gallon sizes ziplock bag – usually 2 x 1.5kg bits from a 3kg lump
- Mix all the ingredients together to make the cure and coat the meat.
- Carefully drop the meat into a bag and drizzle a generous amount of maple syrup over it and carefully massage the syrup to coat.
- Pop it in the fridge. The next day the cure will be working and have gone a bit sludgy. Add a good slug of bourbon (Jack Daniels or similar) and massage.
- Make sure the cure is in contact with the meat by folding any extra plastic under or around on itself – ideally secure with a rubber band.
- Turn every day for a fortnight – congrats, your pork is now bacon!
- Wash off the cure under a cold tap and pat dry.
- FOR UK BACON:
- Keep it on a cake rack in the fridge for a couple of days to dry out a bit, put the rack over a a tray or plate with some salty water and keep the fat side up – this creates a microclimate that should help avoid it developing a hard outer that can be a problem in modern frost free fridges.
- Ideally if you have the kit, then cold smoke over a strong wood like oak for min 8 hours
- Wrap in peach paper (like a non-waxy butchers paper) and leave to mature in the fridge for at least another week
- FOR US BACON
- Give the bacon another light dusting of house rub
- Put in a hot smoker at 225 F for 3-4 hours
- Try not to eat it all immediately!