Homemade Smoked Maple Cured Bacon Recipe
You might be asking why you would spend the time to smoke your own bacon when there are so many convenient options at nearly every food market. The simple answer is that you get to infuse your own personality into the bacon by choosing the cure ingredients and the wood flavor.
Bacon is made from the fatty pork belly section of the pig. However, you can make bacon from the same cut of a steer, a sheep, and even duck. We are using pork in this recipe. It is most commonly cured in a sugar, salt, and spice mixture for quite a long time. Then is it cooked in a smoker over low heat for a couple of hours.
The cure often includes an ingredient known as either pink salt or Prague Powder. Pink salt has a small amount of sodium nitrite in it. This gives the salt its distinctive pink color. Nitrites and nitrates are said to be carcinogenic to humans in large quantities. They are considered safe in very small quantities. Their purpose is to prevent the growth of anaerobic bacteria, notably Clostridium botulinum or botulism.
If you are someone who spends good money on pasture raised, organic, and heritage breed pork products, you might think twice about adding sodium nitrite to the food you are going to consume. We will explore a bacon recipe that makes the pink salt optional. While the nitrites help to preserve the bacon and give it that distinctive pink hue, you can store your smoked bacon in portions in the freezer to deter the growth of bacteria. Bacon is no longer pink after it has been crisped up in a skillet, so that should not be an issue for appearance.
Making your own bacon can be rewarding. It does take a long time. However, most of that time the bacon, refrigerator, and Smoker are doing most of the work. When shopping for your pork belly, ask the butcher to remove the skin that covers the fat cap, as well as any silver skin that is on the lean side of the flesh.
Homemade Smoked Maple Cured Bacon Tools and Equipment Needed:
- Paper towels
- Rimmed baking sheet with a wire rack insert
- Mixing bowl
- Large sealable plastic bag or plastic wrap
- Electric Smoker
- Maple or apple wood chips
- Water and apple cider for the water bowl
- Digital meat thermometer
- 4 to 5 lb pork belly, skinned and trimmed (as described above)
- 1/3 cup maple sugar (can substitute brown sugar)
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 2 TBS coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 TBS celery salt
- 1 tsp pink curing salt (optional)
2 hour 35 min
2 hour 30 min
1.Rinse pork belly with cold water and pat dry. Place on a baking sheet with a wire rack.
2.In a medium mixing bowl, combine sugar, salt, pepper, celery salt, and optional pink curing salt. Mix well.
3.Rub half of the mixture onto the belly's top, then flip and repeat. Place belly and excess mixture in a sealed bag or wrap in plastic. Refrigerate on a lower shelf.
4.Cure the pork for 5 days, turning daily to redistribute liquid.
5.Rinse cured pork, pat dry, and let air dry 4-8 hours on a rack.
6.Remove pork from fridge 45 minutes before smoking.
7.Preheat smoker to 175°F, add wood chips, and place water pan with apple cider.
8.Smoke pork, fat side up, for 2-3 hours at 150°F internal temp. Check water and chips halfway. Clean rack and pan while smoking.
9.Transfer smoked pork to rack on baking sheet. Cool, wrap in plastic, refrigerate 4-8 hours.
10.Slice bacon and cook as needed. Freeze unused portions in sealed bags.
How to Cook Smoked Bacon
Crispy cooked bacon is a treat all by itself or a great addition to any meal. Think of it alongside a mound of steaming scrambled eggs, piled high on top of a burger, or crumbled over a salad. Cooking bacon might seem an obvious task to many of us. Yet, there are a variety of ways to do it to avoid ending up with limp, fatty slabs. Bacon is best prepared when at room temperature, so take it out of the refrigerator 20 minutes before cooking. Let’s explore 3 options for cooking perfect bacon.
This method is a fairly classic way of cooking bacon, especially when you only need about 8 slices at a time. A personal favorite vehicle for cooking bacon this way is in a heavy cast iron skillet. The one drawback to pan frying is the grease splatter that is an inevitable by-product. If you have one, use a splatter screen to help with the cleanup.
1.Place the bacon slices in a single layer in a cold, heavy skillet. Cook over medium heat, flipping over a couple of times, for about 8 to 12 minutes until crisp. Then, drain the cooked bacon on paper towels.
2.You can strain the hot fat into a glass mason jar and save it to cook other dishes with later. Sautéed and braised collard greens come to mind.
This is a great way to cook bacon for a crowd. It is easy and the cleanup isn’t too bad.
1.Line a rimmed baking sheet that has a rack with parchment paper. Place the rack inside the lined baking sheet. Place bacon strips in a single layer on the rack.
2.Place the pan in a cold oven and turn it on to 400°F. Bake until the bacon is crispy for approximately 30 minutes. Then, drain on paper towels.
3.The parchment paper will absorb much of the grease and any solids. Remove the parchment carefully and throw it away. Clean the sheet pan and rack with hot soapy water.
Cooking bacon in a microwave is convenient when you only need a few strips in a hurry. This is ideal for a quick morning breakfast side or an addition to your packed lunch for one person.
1.Line a microwave-safe plate with 2 layers of paper towels. Place the bacon strips in a single layer on the paper towels. Cover the bacon with 2 more layers of paper towels.