Monday, September 29, 2008

The Smoke for Homemade Bacon

Yeah, I know the pun doesn't work for this one as well as for the first bacon post, but what can I do?

After the pork belly sat with the cure for 6 days (during this time I flipped it every other day) in the refrigerator it had released a good deal of liquid creating its own brine. The night before smoking I took each slab out of the Ziploc bags and gave them a rinse and patted them dry with paper towels. I then left the meat uncovered in the refrigerator overnight to develop a pellicle. In this case pellicle does not refer to the white layer that forms on the surface of an aging Lambic, but to the tacky dried protein layer that helps smoke adhere to the meat.

My friend Scott already had his charcoal smoker going when I arrived early on Sunday morning. We opted to go with a couple big chunks of hickory, the classic bacon wood, soaked in water for a few hours to prevent complete combustion. Once the smoker got up to 200 degrees we put the meat on (more to come later on that duck breast in back).

After 2 hours, with a second dose of charcoal added half way through, the meat hit the target internal temperature of 150 degrees, and looked wonderfully brown.

Once the meat had some time to cool we ripped (note the pliers) and cut the thin, but though, layer of skin away from the subcutaneous fat. I'm planning on tossing a piece of the skin into a pot of beans later this week.

When I got home I sliced up a few pieces of the plain bacon. It was hard to get it cut as thin as store bought bacon (getting it as cold as possible first would have helped), but who wants 1/16 inch thick bacon anyway?

The pieces fried up nicely and went well on a pizza (homemade sourdough crust, sliced zucchini, mozzarella, and two roasted red peppers pureed with a tablespoon of bacon grease).


DavidP said...

Digging the "homemade foods" posts! There's more to being foodily creative than just beer.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Will do, I'll try to post some of the more interesting food I make.

Tim F said...

So it still came out ok with the hot smoking vs cold smoking? I am planning on making some bacon and was mentally designing a cold smoking system out of bits and pieces I have around the place.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Yeah came out really well, certainly a worthwhile way to do it.

Mike K said...

i've been digging the Charcouterie book as well, i'm thinking about buying a meat slicer because i've found it difficult to get a thicker, more uneven slice of my homemade bacon to cook evenly. I've also found that my homemade bacon burns very easily right at the end of cooking....not sure why compared to store bacon...maybe all the water they pump into commercial bacon?

Scyrene said...

Never heard of a pellicle forming on bacon before! I always wash and dry mine before smoking. Is the outer surface not too salty otherwise?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I washed and dried mine as well, just the night before smoking and then let it dry even more in the fridge.