When I present at conferences and even in many webinars, I often offer a few giveaways as well.  Typically it’s digital copies of my books or relevant best practice guides we’ve published, but earlier this week at my Advocamp presentation I also (on a whim) offered a copy of my bacon recipe.

I got a few requests for the book and guide, but the bacon recipe was clearly most popular.  And I’m serious folks, making bacon at home could NOT be easier.  It’s much tastier than anything you can buy in the store, it’s definitely cheaper, and you can control the flavor with some simple steps and/or adjustments.

I still make a variety of different bacon styles (wet cure, maple cure, etc.), but this simple dry cure is my favorite (and my wife’s favorite as well).

Matt’s Award-Winning* Dry Cured Smoked Bacon Recipe

  • Buy a fresh pork belly at Costco (seriously, they have a fantastic meat department and high quality, low priced pork bellies in particular
    • Costco pork bellies tend to be in the 8-10 lb range, so you can either prepare the whole thing, cut it in half to make some now and some later, OR…go to a local butcher and get the cut of pork belly that best suits your fancy
  • On a clean chop block, square (cut off) the sides of the pork belly to make a clean rectangle or square
    • You can cook those side pieces separately or cube them and make salt pork later
    • You’ll end up with something that looks a bit like this:

freshporkbelly

  • Make a simple cure out of sugar and salt
    • All you need are three ingredients in these proportions – 6 parts kosher salt, 3 parts sugar (brown or white based on your flavor preference) and 1/2 part pink curing salt
    • You can get curing salt now at many higher-end and specialty supermarkets as well as at some dedicated butchers, but it’s also easy to get online
    • Mix the three ingredients together (you can make a ton of this and it keeps in an air-tight container for months)
  • Coat the pork belly on all sides with your cure (for a 6-8 lb pork belly you probably only need about 5 tablespoons of cure total for the coating)
    • You’ll end up with something that looks a bit like this:

precuredbacon

  • Put the pork belly on a cookie sheet, cover it with another cookie sheet with some parchment or plastic wrap in between, and put it in the fridge
  • Add some weight to the cookie sheet on top so that there’s a bit of pressure on the pork belly as it cures
  • Let it cure for a week
    • You literally do nothing but wait
    • You may notice the pork belly expelling liquid and likely pulling some of that back in after a couple days, totally normal and part of the cure!
  • After a week, rinse the belly and ideally let it dry out a bit uncovered in the fridge for a few hours or even overnight
  • At this point if you don’t like smoked bacon you’re done!  You can slide, cook and eat the bacon and it is delicious
  • BUT, if you want it smoked:
    • Build an indirect fire on your grill (basically all the coals on one side so that the bacon isn’t over the fire, or light only 1-2 of your burners if you’re using gas)
    • You will only need a handful of charcoal pieces or briquettes, you basically want to keep the temperature around 200-220 degrees
    • Soak some wood chips in water for a 30-60 minutes (use whatever wood you prefer but fruit wood – apple or cherry – works particularly well for a lighter smoked flavor)
    • Throw the chips on the coals and the bacon on the other side of the grate
    • Let it smoke at 200-220 degrees for 2-3 hours or until the bacon slab reaches approximately 150-170 degrees internally
    • The final product should look a bit like this:

smokedbacon

  • Fresh bacon will keep in the fridge for about a week, but I recommend cutting the slab into chunks and freezing them for later (they’ll last 3-4 months at least in the freezer if packed well)

Enjoy and have fun!