Homemade bacon, contrary to what you might think, is an easy thing to make, and once you’ve had the real deal — sliced just as thick as you’d prefer — you’ll never look at store-bought bacon the same. Find a recipe you like, and fine-tune it to your taste, or try this one, which is adapted from the book Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. I first made this bacon years ago with Robin Mather, who was then an editor with Mother Earth News, and it remains my go-to.
• 5 pounds fresh pork belly from your local grocery store or butcher shop, or a pork supplier at farmers’ market
• Box of 2-gallon zip-top bags if you don’t have a container big enough to hold the belly
• 2 ounces salt (1/4 cup Morton or Diamond Crystal coarse kosher)
• 2 teaspoons pink curing salt #1
• 4 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
• 1/4 cup brown sugar, honey or maple syrup
1. Place belly in zip-top bag, on baking sheet, or in large plastic container. Rub salts and pepper all over belly. Seal bag or cover baking sheet or container with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator for 7 days. After 3 or 4 days, give the spices and belly another good rub.
2. After 7 days, take belly out of the refrigerator, rinse off all seasonings under cold water, and pat dry.
3. Smoke pork belly over apple, pecan, hickory or another hardwood until it reaches internal temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep smoker set at as low a temperature as possible.
4. When done, let cool. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
Editor’s Note: I fry it in a skillet, just like conventional bacon. I encourage you to cut off a slice, cook it, and sample it right away!
Looking for more hearty breakfast ideas? Check out these Country Breakfast Foods.