Bready or Not: Cato Home-Cured Bacon

Posted by on Jan 3, 2018 in Blog, Bready or Not, breakfast, gluten-free, pork | Comments Off on Bready or Not: Cato Home-Cured Bacon

We’re kicking off a breakfast theme for a month with a recipe that will step-by-step teach you how to cure your own bacon.

Bready or Not: Cato Home-Cured Bacon

I guarantee this will be among the best, if not THE best, bacon you will have in your life. Fresh really makes the difference.

Bready or Not: Cato Home-Cured Bacon

This recipe is not difficult. In all honesty, the greatest challenge is that the curing bacon takes up a lot of fridge space for about 10 days.

Bready or Not: Cato Home-Cured Bacon

I completely modified this from a Michael Symon recipe featured in Food Network Magazine, March 2014. The only way that I can buy pork belly locally is from Costco (for about $2.69 a lb!), so this is a Costco-sized recipe.

Bready or Not: Cato Home-Cured Bacon

If you can buy a smaller pork belly slab, then just halve the ingredients. Otherwise, buy the big belly and follow all of the steps I provide… which means you’ll have another slab of frozen bacon already seasoned and prepped to cure in a few weeks or months.

Bready or Not: Cato Home-Cured Bacon

After the meat is smoked, slice it up and use it however you want. I find that home-cured bacon cooks much faster than the store stuff, though it can be much thicker, and the bits that look burned aren’t usually burned.

Bready or Not: Cato Home-Cured Bacon

The smoked meat also freezes and keeps for weeks or months. Just thaw it in the fridge when you’re ready, and use it however you wish.

You’ll wish to eat every last morsel. Trust me.

Bready or Not: Cato Home-Cured Bacon

This recipe does require some supplies that you likely don’t have in the cupboard, and might be hard to find locally. Amazon, of course, has everything. I recommend them for buying 2-gallon zipper bags as well as pink curing salt (plus, you get enough salt to last through the apocalypse). Note that pink curing salt is essential here because it has salt and sodium nitrate, which keeps the meat pink and kills bacteria. Normal salts don’t pack that wallop.

 

Bready or Not: Cato Home-Cured Bacon

Bready or Not: Cato Home-Cured Bacon

This recipe uses a 9-10 lb pork belly slab like those found at Costco, and cutting that in half to cure part now and the other part later. If you have a smaller pork belly, halve these ingredient amounts and go from there.

Note that you need 2-gallon re-sealable plastic bags to hold the meat, and pink curing salt; neither is likely found in local grocery stores, but they are on Amazon. You cannot substitute other salts for the pink curing salt! The pink type is necessary for the curing process.

Full preparation time on this includes about 9-10 days in the fridge: about 7 days to cure, and 2 days for it to dry, followed by the day of smoking.

  • 9 to 10 lb pork belly
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 4 teaspoons pink curing salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup paprika (sweet or smoky)

Cut the pork belly slab in half and rinse and pat dry both pieces. Place them in separate re-sealable 2-gallon plastic bags.

Mix together the spice rub. It'll form a thick paste. Roughly divide it into quarters, and use a quarter on each side of a pork piece. The rub will be very lumpy. Don't worry about a perfect, even coating; the pork will release juices and the flavors will seep in during the curing process.

Close both bags, pressing out as much air as possible. Freeze one bag for later; as a precaution against holes getting torn in the bag, wrap it well in plastic wrap, too. When ready to start the curing process for this half, add another day or two to the curing time in the fridge to account for thawing time.

As for the ready piece of pork belly, set that bag in the fridge for the next 7 to 10 days, until it feels firm. Flip the meat once a day.

Remove the pork belly from the bag. Rinse it well and pat it dry. Set it on a rack on a small cookie sheet in the fridge and let it dry for another two days. No need to flip it at this point.

Set up your smoker at 200-degrees. Applewood chips are a great choice, but maple and hickory are fantastic as well. Smoke the pork belly for about 3 hours, until the bacon reaches an internal temperature of about 150-degrees.

From this point, slice and cook the meat as you would regular bacon, but note that this fresher, homemade variety will cook much faster. Use plastic wrap or plastic bags to store the sliced meat in the fridge for upwards of a week, or freeze for up to 2 months.

OM NOM NOM!