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Home-Cured and Home-Smoked Bacon

I’m the kinda person that believes there are few dishes that can’t be improved by introducing bacon somewhere. It’s perfect with pasta, lovely with lettuce and beautiful with beans. Of course, best of all is grilled to a crisp and sandwiched between 2 slices of bread.

I wouldn’t like to think of myself as a ‘bacon snob’ but at the same time, I am appalled at some of the bacon you get in the supermarkets. Pumped full of salty water, with all kinds of chemicals and preservatives and topped with a chemical-derived ‘liquid smoke’. Bleurgh! No thanks.

But making bacon at home is such a faff, it makes loads of mess and you need lots of special ‘stuff’ for it, don’t you? WRONG! I was sent the ‘Bacon Cure and Smoke Pack’ from the lovely people over at Hot Smoked to give it a go for myself and I am blown away by how simple it was to make bacon that is tastier than any I’ve ever bought from a supermarket.

The kit consists of all the ingredients, herbs and spices you need to cure your own bacon plus a cold smoker and a couple of different types of wood dust to get you going. All in all, the pack is enough to cure many kgs of bacon. All you need to add is a plastic tub, pork, sugar and a vessel to smoke the meat in (such as a large BBQ or even a large cardboard box!)

The whole process takes around 6 to 8 days but the time needed ‘hands on’ is very minimal. I’ve taken pics of the process to show you just how easy it is and what the pork looks like at each stage. I used pork belly as we prefer streaky bacon, but you could just as easily use pork loin if you’d like back bacon instead.

Makin Bacon…

First, I gave the pork a good rub with my cure and set it in it’s container to rest for 24 hours. The recipe provided is not very specific in terms of measurements, calling for “a few juniper berries and some bay leaves” so I just went with the flow. Turns out it was delicious anyway, so I don’t think exact recipes are needed for the spices though it is very important to use the right amount of cure!

For the next few days, I added more cure and poured off the liquid drawn from the meat by the cure. During this process, you’ll see the meat gets noticeably darker.

After 4 days of curing, the meat is washed and soaked for 30 mins to remove any excess cure. It’s then left to stand and dry out in the fridge for a day before being smoked for at least 10 hours. At the end of this process, the pork is now bacon and it is darker and firmer than before but it is still raw.

At this point I was DYING to try some bacon but it had to stand for another day or so in a sealed container to ‘settle’ and allow the smoke flavour to penetrate the whole of the meat. Finally, after this process the bacon was ready to slice and cook!

I found the slicing to be the most difficult and time-consuming part of the process. I have a meat slicer which I bought cheaply from a local catalogue store but it just wasn’t sharp enough to handle the outer skin and soft flesh of the bacon; it was squashing the meat rather than slicing it! In an attempt to make this more manageable, I tried cooling the meat right down in the freezer and this worked wonderfully. 1-1.5 hours in the freezer and it was firm enough to slice perfectly but wasn’t frozen. I ended up with lots of slices and the ends I diced into lardons to be used in all kinds of dishes. Yum!

This morning I had my first taste of home-cured and home-smoked bacon and I must say it was incredible! It had so much FLAVOUR to it and a real smokiness completely different from the plasticky chemical smoke. When I fried it, it crisped up perfectly and there was none of that yukky white watery stuff you sometimes get with commercial bacon either.

Just look at that! Perfect, crispy bacon still sizzling in the pan is a thing of beauty and the breakfast of kings!

Now that I’ve seen how easy it is to smoke my own bacon, I’ll be doing it on a regular basis. I’ve not worked it out yet, but I think it probably works out cheaper too. Next on the list to try is pancetta, and the kit also contains everything for that as well as instructions on how to tweak the basic bacon process to fit pancetta.

All things considered, I think the kit is excellent. If I’d received it as a gift or bought it myself as my first foray into curing meat I would be absolutely delighted! I’ve just seen the last day to order for Xmas delivery is Mon 22nd December so there is still time to order this for a loved one for Christmas; I’m sure they will be delighted.

If you buy this kit, please do let me know and send pics of your bacon. I love to see what you are all making!

Hot Smoked stock a range of Hot and Cold smoking equipment and supplies. I’ve not experimented with Hot Smoking just yet but it’s now firmly on my list of things to try.

Disclosure: Hot Smoked kindly sent me a bacon cure and smoke pack for free to experiment with for this post. I was not paid for the post and any opinions expressed are my own.

5 thoughts on “Home-Cured and Home-Smoked Bacon”

  • I'm so impressed Kevin! When I reviewed the Bacon book it had a curing recipe, but just thought it would be too much trouble. This kit looks ideal and I might have a go after all. Merry Christmas!

    • Wow, thanks Janice. I've got a few curing books and you're right they all make it sound pretty complicated. I've read some with cures that have a dozen ingredients or have to be smoked for 3 days! Just not practical for someone like me. This kit, however, is simple and anyone could do it. Definitely one to try.

      And a very Merry Christmas to you too. This bacon will soon be wrapping itself around little sausages and draping over the turkey!

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