Yep, that's right. After many tasters, and many, many breakfasts, we have come to a final conclusion. This truly has to be the Best Bacon Ever.
This cross section of individuals consisted of four different neighbors, two work associates, and a family member. A total of sixteen people ranging in age from 7 to 64 all agreed that this was amazing bacon. It was somewhat humorous and flattering all at the same time as I heard back from three of the tasters within 24 hours of receiving the bacon, and the first words they said were "Best Bacon Ever".
So, what did I do to make the big success?
I started with a nice fresh pork belly. Freshness is of the utmost importance. As you can see by the picture below, I trimmed the belly up to help making the ends and sides more straight, what I trimmed off consisted of more fat than lean. I will freeze these trimmed off pieces to be used later in some other product.
I gave the belly a once over looking for and removing anything like extra little pieces of fat that can be easily pulled off or maybe even some small pieces of bone cartilage that might still be there from the spare ribs. And then I was ready to put the belly into the brine.
I made the brine about an hour before I started trimming up the belly. Following is my brine recipe. This allowed time for all the ingredients to dissolve and I would mix them up periodically to help them dissolve.
- one gallon cold tap water
- nine (9) ounces salt (regular table salt)
- four (4) ounces dark brown sugar
- 2.7 ounces prague powder no. 1 (pink salt)
- sixteen (16) ounces Maple Syrup
I like the dark brown sugar as it has some more molasses flavor, but you can use the light brown if that is what you have. This holds true for the maple syrup also, just make sure that you are using a good quality syrup.
You see here the belly in the tub of brine on Wednesday. I put the tub in my refrigerator and each day I stirred up the brine as I turned the belly over.
And then on Saturday afternoon I took the belly out of the brine and rinsed it and I hung it in my smokehouse to start to warm it up and also to start to dry out. Smoke penetrates meat better if the product is dry.
As you can see, my smoke house is one that I wheel over our patio fire pit once I get the fire where I want it. It does require more attention as it lacks a lot of controls that your smoke house may have, such as when the wind kicks up a bit, I will lose several degrees in the smoke house but it doesn't take long until it is right back on track and I'm back to smoking.
So, after the bacon hung for about 45 minutes, I wheeled the smokehouse over the fire pit. I used hickory wood and got really good smoke on the belly. I kept the temperature of the house between 190° and 200°. I have a bucket of water handy so that if the fire gets too hot, I use my cupped hands to put water on the fire. It does require more attention, but I still have a good time smoking.
About three hours later I removed the bacon at 140°. I had placed a couple sheets of butcher paper over my counter, and I placed the bacon on it and then proceeded to rub the whole bacon with a special rub of my own invention. I then wrapped the bacon up in the paper and put it in a plastic bag for about one hour. During this time the bacon continued to cook but more importantly the sweet rub melted and adhered to the bacon. I then removed the bacon from the plastic bag and placed it, wrapped, in the refrigerator until the next morning. Just in time for Sunday morning breakfast.