No need to bring home the bacon anymore, when you can make it yourself. While there’s plenty of good bacon available these days, the Accidental Locavore loves to make her own. It’s really easy, just takes about a week to cure the meat, and you don’t need a smoker, although you might want one. I generally use two 2 ½-pound pieces of pork belly because it’s easier to handle and you can play around with different spice blends. This started out from Michael Ruhlman’s excellent Charcuterie book.
- 4-5 Pounds pork belly, skin on, with a good mix of meat and fat
- 4 Tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 Teaspoons pink curing salt
- 1/4 Cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 Cup maple syrup, preferably dark
Combine the kosher salt, pink salt, brown sugar, and maple syrup in a bowl and mix well.
Put each of the pork bellies in a resealable plastic bag big enough to hold it comfortably. Divide the cure mixture in 1/2 and thoroughly rub the entire surface of the bellies with the mix.
Seal the bags and refrigerate. Turn the bags over every other day to distribute the liquid in the bags (the liquid is the pork making its own brine). Cure for about 1 week; the pork should be pretty firm to the touch.
Remove from the bags and rinse thoroughly (or your bacon will be really salty). Pat dry with paper towels. Discard the cure and the bags. It can rest in the refrigerator, uncovered for up to 3 days (but who can wait that long?).
To roast it, preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Put the bellies, skin side up, on a roasting pan with a rack and roast until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 hours (start checking after 1 ½ hours). Remove the skin with a big knife, while the bacon is still warm (reserve the skin to use it later to flavor soups, etc.). Let the bacon cool, then wrap well and refrigerate until you’re ready to eat it.
To hot smoke it, set up your smoker and smoke the bellies skin side up, until the internal temperature is 150 degrees. On my smoker, it’s about 4 hours. Remove the skin, while the bacon is still warm. Let the bacon cool, then wrap well and refrigerate until you’re ready to eat it.