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Makin' Bacon

Mmmm bacon... drool-drool-drool
There's a reason the smell of bacon can awaken a sleeping stomach from 200 yards, the cured pork sliced thin and fried or baked crisp is the Pièce de résistance of many a meal. From Breakfast, bacon and eggs, to lunch, a B.L.T. and soup, to dinner, a bacon wrapped filet mignon!

Pork belly, being divided into thirds
Pork belly being divided into thirds

If you find the taste and smell of bacon intoxicating and delicious, and have the drive to git to makin bacon, then you will never buy mass-produced store bacon again! The beginners finished product is so superior to the store bacon, it's like comparing the tortoise to the hare: NO CONTEST.

I started with 13.5 lb slab of pork belly with rib meat attached. (When I do this again, I will probably trim the rib meat) I divided it into three sections, each section weighed in at 4+ lbs.

Honey and Molasas Bacon
Honey and Molasas Bacon before being sealed

After coating it in special curing salt and spices, (I made 3 different cures), see the image above where I add the marinade to the top of the meat and work it around the meat the best I can before it was packed and sealed and left in my fridge for about 9 days. I turned the packages over twice a day to ensure they cured evenly.

 

All 3 flavors, seal-a-mealed up
All 3 flavors, seal-a-mealed up

I decided on a 'honey and molassas', a 'pepper and garlic' and a 'pepper, bay and thyme' trifecta! I also used seal-a-meal bags (god I love that machine!).

Pepper and garlic slab being dusted
Pepper and garlic slab being dusted

After removing and rinsing the bacon of its curing salts and drying it off, I really wanted an authentic "slab-o-bacon" so I decided to rig my oven into a smoker! Granted I did not get as much smoke to penetrate the flavor of the meat, but apparently I got just enough to hint at smoke and it had a great flavor!

Slabs about to be smoked
Slabs about to be smoked

Luckily my oven had a removable shelf floor between the oven and the broiler below. I removed that panel and put the canister of wood shavings on top of the broiler element, on the mid shelf I had a steel bowl of ice water to keep the bacon from reaching the max smoking temperature for as long as possible and that happened to be 3 hours. I read it should be closer to 10 hours, but hey, you make the best with what you have. On the top rack is the three slabs of bacon with my digital thermometer in one.

The finished product! I gifted some out, and regret it! Mine mine all mine! mwa ha ha... err nevermind.

Bacon belly, split in thirds
Molassass bacon slab after smoking

Bacon belly, split in thirds
A slice of the smoked bacon