Making Bacon Part III

This will be the third time that I have attempted to make Homemade Bacon.

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The first two times were less than impressive.

 

I have decided to try one more time.

 

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Pretty simple for the seasoning:

Coarse Salt

Fresh Ground Pepper

Brown Sugar

Thyme and Rosemary are optional so I left them out.

 

 

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About a 3 1/2 pound slab of pork belly with the skin on.

 

 

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All the parts are ready to go.

I cut off about a quarter of the pork belly and plan on cooking that separately.

 

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Seasoning rubbed on and into the zip-style bag

This stayed in the fridge for a week, and once a day it gets turned over.

Now, this may be just another boring bacon disaster post after having tried twice before to make my on bacon.

BUT !!!

This time I have a secret weapon……………………………….

Meet Mr. Smokey !!!!!

 

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For my fifteen years of service at work, I was given this smoker.

I’ve been cooking with gas for about 20 years (and I love it), but I started out way back when grilling with charcoal.  I also had never used a chimney starter.  Back in the day, it was just gasoline poured on to start the charcoal.  The chimney starter works well to get the coals going.

 

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Lit charcoal ready to go………………………..

 

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Back to the pork belly.

Rinsed off in the sink and patted dry.

 

 

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I cut the skin off.

OOPS !!!!!

I shouldn’t have done that until after cooking.

Oh well.  Not likely to be my only mistake of the day !!

 

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This is about after 4 hours on the smoker.

The pork belly looked a little lonely so I put a small piece of beef ribs on to keep it company.

The beef ribs were fantastic !!

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OK, once again it at least looks like bacon at this point.

It stayed in the fridge overnight.

 

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Slicing it up, it looks even more like bacon. (We know looks can be deceiving and disappointing)

The sliced bacon looks and feels different from the two other attempts.

 

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Well, here goes everything !!!

Time to fry it up.

 

Well, my daughter said it was the best bacon ever !!

Woo, high praise indeed.

The wife said it rivaled the specialty bacon that a local person sells at the farmer’s market. (I’ve never had that so I can’t make a comparison)

I thought it was very good. It definitely wasn’t what I expected (not very salty like modern processed bacon.)  It was definitely good.

 

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Well, the good news is that I know exactly how much bacon my cast iron will hold.  The bad news is that my bacon hoard is exactly that much less !!

 

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Putting the homemade bacon to good use !!

Some overall notes:

It’s nice being able to slice the bacon thick.  My slices are about 1  1/2 X thicker than the thick cut bacon you buy in the store.

This bacon doesn’t shrink very much.

This bacon is not easy to overcook and burn like processed bacon.  It cooks up to the almost perfect mix of not crispy/crispy but not burnt.

This is the third time that I have used my smoker and I really like it.  It’s not a “set it and forget it” device.  I need to maintain the heat by putting more charcoal on.

This smoker is kind of a poor design. To me, one of the biggest problems is that when the coals burn down, there is no where for the ash to go and that hinders getting new coals going.  (I can fix that I think !!)

I hate smelling like I sat around a campfire all day when I use the smoker.

I’ve probably inhaled more carbon monoxide than a small Chinese village.

Bonus Feature:

I cooked up the other piece of the pork belly and it was great !!

 

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Making Bacon

For a number of years, I had watched several TV cooking shows that used pork belly and the recipes all looked great.  My  grocery store does not carry pork belly and when I asked, they couldn’t even order it (Unless I wanted to buy a pallet of it !!)

But a small local store near me was able to order a 3 pound piece of pork belly for me.

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So I picked picked up my pork belly.  I had never purchased pork belly before but $3.20 a pound seemed to be a fine price.

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I had looked at a number of online directions for homemade bacon, and they all seemed to be about the same.

Rosemary

Thyme

Black Pepper

Coarse salt

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All the ingredients get rubbed on to the pork belly.

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The seasoned pork belly goes into a zip style plastic bag.

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The pork belly stayed in the bag and in the fridge for seven days, and was turned over once a day.

I rinsed the pork belly off in the sink and patted it dry.

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The oven was heated to 200 degrees and cooked until the internal temperature was 150 degrees.

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Once fully cooled, I moved it to the cutting board.

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Skin side up.

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You can see how thick the skin was.

The skin was removed and used later in making soup.

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The pork belly gets wrapped in wax paper and refrigerated.

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I actually waited a day before I attempted to cut it and cook it.

I was surprised with my patience !!

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So nice thick slabs of fresh, homemade bacon !!!

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Into the cast iron frying pan.

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Hey, it looks like bacon !!!

But that’s were the disappointment hit me.

It didn’t taste like bacon at all.  It just tasted like salted pork

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So, I cut a few more slabs.

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Into the frying pan again and it still didn’t taste like bacon.

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I even tossed some of it on the grill and it just tasted like pork.

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That’s what was left.

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I cubed it up and into the frying pan.

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This ended up going into my split pea soup and it was very good.  But it didn’t taste like bacon !!

OK, so what did I do wrong or what do I need to do different to make it the next time and make it taste like bacon??