Introduction: Makin' Bacon - a Guide to Cold Smoking Bacon
This Instructable is all about cold smoked bacon.
A lot of warmer climates will hot smoke their pork bellies but here in the UK Autumn/Winter is the ideal time to let the cold smoke do it's magic.
Effectively you cure your meat and then smoke in in low temps so the smoked takes to the protein but doesn't cook it. You can then slice and store for many days/weeks and simply grill/bake when you're ready to eat it.
The full guide follows the Video (next step).
Step 1: Video Guide - Cold Smoked Bacon
Here's the full Youtube guide to Cold Smoked Bacon.
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Full Guide next step.
Step 2: Curing Your Pork
I simply used a dry cure from Weschenfelder Direct (Supracure) Mixed with sea salt (the actual Supracure should only account for 5% or less of the weight of the meat you're curing).
This is a salt cure containing nitrates that can be used at home or professionally and allows you to make cured bacon within about 5-7 days.
You can add sugars, aromatics and spices to your cure to give a slightly different taste to your finished bacon, as long as the majority of the mixture is salt (i.e. putting more sugar and aromatics in may effect the cure doing it's work).
- Take a dish and place a layer of cure at the base of the dish.
- Place your raw pork belly on the top of the cure
- Add more cure on top of the pork
- Thoroughly rub the cure all over the meat until it's totally covered
- Place bowl in the refridgerator
Step 3: Letting the Pork Cure
Once you have coated the meat in your cure you need to let all the moisture be drawn out by the salt. For meat such as pork this will take several days (fish can be a matter of hours).
Based on the thickness of the pork you need to allow 4-6 days of cure time - you will see the moisture start to pool in the bowl and effectively turn the dry cure into a wet cure as the process continues.
Make sure to turn your pork each day of the curing process and to ensure the meat is fully covered by spooning over the (now wet) salt mix over the pork before returning it to the refrigerator.
You'll notice the pork will stiffen up and be much more rigid as the water leaves the protein.
Step 4: Washing Off the Cure
After the allotted time when most of the moisture has left the pork belly and is in the bowl you will have BACON.
Now at this stage you need to thoroughly wash the salt cure off the bacon.
Put the dish under a running cold tap and, with your hands ensure that no salt trace remains. It is recommended to even soak the bacon first for an hour in cold water then rinse, so the bacon doesn't become too salty when you cook it.
Once complete, place the bacon back in a dish as shown in the picture and leave it uncovered overnight in the fridge. This will allow a pellicle to form, greatly improving the next stage - Cold Smoking!
Step 5: Cold Smoking
To cold smoke you need a chamber to keep the food and smoke in. You can actually cold smoke in cardboard box but it's best to have something a little more solid to protect your food.
A barbecue grill with lid and air vents or a dedicated Smoking cabinet is best.
Once you have this you need to produce cold smoke. This can be done in a number of ways.
- Smoke Generator that burns wood dust/pellets outside your smoking chamber and allows the smoke to cool before entering the smoker. These can be around $100 so are not cheap
- Maze style Cold Smoke Generator that allows wood dust to smoulder inside your smoking chamber a release smoke over a period of 6-8 hours a time.
- Individual Briquettes that can be lit and smoulder inside cabinet just as the maze unit would do. These are the cheapest at first, but will cost more the more times you use them.
Or you could visit our other COLD SMOKE GENERATOR HACK (below) to see how you can DIY the job yourself.
Step 6: Cold Smoking (cont.)
You can place you bacon on racks within the BBQ/Smoker or, if it allows, use Meat Hooks to hang the pork bellies from the top of the smoker. This allows the smoke to get full access to the meat ensuring a good even smoke flavour.
Don't cold smoke when your equipment is in direct contact with the suns rays. You need to keep the temps ambient and any external heat source can raise the cabinets temperature and over the course of a cold smoking session, may cause the meat to spoil
You'll need to choose your wood flavour (Alder was used in our recipe) but Beech, oak, fruit based trees like apple are all good to smoke Bacon with - as does Hickory but this is a very strong flavour too it so don't overdo the smoke.
Generally when cold smoking you'll need to do about 6 hours to get a good hint of smoke in your meat. You can do much longer and if you need to break it down into two sessions - for example cold smoke for 4-5 hours and then do another 4-5 hours the next day (returning to the fridge in between).
Once you have the desired level of smoke take the bacon inside - shrink wrap it and place in in the fridge for a day or two (you can cook it straight away but it's best to let the smoke flavour permeate the meat).
Step 7: Slicing Your Bacon
Take a large, sharp knife or if you have it a meat slicer and slice the bacon lengthways leaving you with long thin strips of bacon. You can choose just how thick or thin you want it.
You can now cook the bacon as you would usually but if you are looking to store it make sure it's tightly covered and left in the fridge.
If you're giving some to friends/family you can use foil mats to lay your bacon on then shrink-wrap them closed. This will create a real visual feast before the actual feast begins
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