Do you like bacon? Yeah, me too.
Ever wondered how to make your own bacon? I didn't have the urge to make my own bacon until I tasted some buckboard bacon a friend of mine had cured and smoked himself. It tasted amazing, I was hooked!
OK, but what's this "buckboard bacon?" Buckboard bacon is bacon made from pork shoulder instead of pork belly.
Why would you disgrace the great pork belly bacon? Well, I didn't plan to at first. But then I saw what a pork belly costs per pound! Pork butt is about 1/3 the cost for me. And it made sense to try a test batch of bacon before spending more $ in case I screwed something up.
Is it hard? Does it take a long time? Turns out makin' your own bacon is pretty easy and not really that time consuming. Plus, the end result tastes awesome.
Read on to learn more about how to make buckboard bacon or skip to the end to find out how I managed to combine bacon and 3D printing!
Step 1: Ingredients and Materials
1. Bacon Cure.
- Here's the Amazon link to the product I used http://a.co/dhy4q6W
2. Pork butt.
- Cash and Carry or Costco usually have good deals and decent meat.
3. Non metallic container
- This is very important. The cure will react with metal and potentially ruin your bacon.
4. Measuring cups
- Measuring accurately is also very important. Not using enough cure could potentially make you really sick.
Step 2: The Cure
Interesting we use a cure to make bacon. I'm going to take that as proof that bacon is good for you...
First - Wash your hands.
I bought my pork butt de-boned. If yours has the bone in it, remove it before you move on.
(BTW, yes, it was really hard to write that sentence without making a dirty joke...)
Measure out the cure per the instructions for the amount of meat you have. I had 14 lbs of meat which per the high mountain instructions translated to 1.25 cups cure.
Rub the cure evenly on all sides of the meat. I don't have a picture of this, but I have provided a helpful technical drawing.
Cover pork, place in fridge.
Flip it after 5 days. If there's liquid in the bottom of the pan you can leave it or drain it. I drained out about half to make it easier to move the container without spilling.
After 10 days in the fridge, it's go time!
(14 lbs of meat x1 tablespoon) + (14x1.25 teaspoon) = 14 tablespoons + 17.5 teaspoons
3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon
17.5 teaspoons / 3 = 5.83 tablespoons (I rounded up to 6 tablespoons)
14 + 6 = 20 tablespoons
16 tablespoons = 1 cup
20/16 = 1.25 cups
Step 3: Soak Your Meat
10 days already?! That went quick.
First, pull the pork butts out of the container and rinse them off. Be sure to rinse out the bone cavity too.
Next, soak the butts in cold water. This helps pull out some of the salt. I don't think ice in the water is really necessary... but it made me feel better about leaving it in the sink for a couple hours.
Change the water after 45 minutes or so.
After soaking for 1.5 hours, I cut a small piece off and fried it up to check how salty it was. It was still too salty for my taste.
More soaking if desired. 2.5 hours was the sweet spot for this batch.
Pat your meat dry with a paper towel.
Let your meat air dry. I put it in the oven and cracked the door. I learned this trick while letting smoked salmon dry after rinsing off the cure. Using the oven keeps it out of the way, somewhat sheltered and still lets air circulate around it. (Do not turn the oven on)
More waiting... Let it dry for about 2 hours.
Step 4: Smokin'
This is now (un)officially the instructable with the most apostrophe g's.
Ri'ht. movin' on now...
Time to smoke those butts! Fire up your smoker to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you don't have a smoker, you can do this step in your oven too. LIGHTLY drizzle the pork with liquid smoke.
Once your smoker (or oven) is up to temp, wash your hands and put the butts on. I put in digital temp probes, you can also use a digital instant read thermometer. Use a bi-metal analog thermometer if that's all you have.
Add your favorite smoking wood, I used hickory. Don't over do the smoke, 3-4 chunks of wood is probably plenty.
Close up the smoker and crack a beverage.
Once you're finished with your beverage, check the pork. I didn't flip the butts, you can if you want.
Add a chunk of wood if needed, then close the lid and cook until the internal temp of the pork hits 140-145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once you're at 140-145 degrees Fahrenheit pull the butts off and let them sit for 45 minutes or so to cool off before putting them in the fridge.
Mmmmmm.... bacon butts!
I'd highly recommend getting a digital thermometer if you don't have one. The bi-metal analog thermometers are notoriously inaccurate. I now use a Heatermeter https://github.com/CapnBry/HeaterMeter/wiki and this digital instant read thermometer http://a.co/6GNqu0Q
This combo makes it easy for me to look like a BBQ'ing hero, I can't tell you enough how much better my BBQ meats taste now that I have precise and accurate temp control. This article from amazing ribs is a good read if you want more info http://amazingribs.com/BBQ_buyers_guide/thermometer_buying_guide.html
Step 5: Slice and Enjoy!
OMG, just let me eat bacon already! It looks and smells sooooo good!
OK. The bacon is smoked and cooled off. We can slice it now. Finally.
You can certainly use a sharp knife. Using a slicer makes things easier and more consistent.
I have a hand cranked slicer so I needed help for this step. I cranked and my wife sliced.
This step is pretty straightforward. The only tip I have is to put the meat in the freezer for 10-20 minutes to firm it up if it doesn't slice cleanly.
Once the bacon is sliced, fry it up and enjoy!
Step 6: Bonus Track
Bacon and 3D printing?! No way... Yes way! 14 pounds of bacon is a lot. My arm got tired of cranking the slicer. So somewhere around halfway we took a break and I fired up Fusion 360. I made simple 3D printed cordless drill to meat slicer adapter. This simple little adapter made the rest of the meat slicing much easier! 3D printing FTW!
The adapter is designed to fit 3/8" coarse thread and a normal drill chuck. I used PETG and printed at 100% infill. ABS would probably work, PLA might be too brittle. There are no threads modeled, the screw on the meat slicer cut threads into the plastic just fine. I was after something quick and dirty so we could finish slicing and get onto eating!
I had constant QA input from my furry little adviser. Our dog highly approved of this project.
The high mountain cure is great. But I'd bet most of us here on instructables like to tweak things. You can make your own cure and custom tailor the flavor you want. The most important ingredient that I had trouble finding in the grocery store is pink curing salt. I ordered this http://a.co/1uJwWMg from Amazon and will try making my own cure once I run out of the high mountain cure.
*Side pork Tangent - I've never understood why it's called a pork butt. It's not the pigs butt, it's the shoulder! Anyone know why we call it a butt? Wiki and google haven't given me a clear answer.
If you read this far, hopefully you got somthin' useful out of this instructable. Makin' Bacon isn't that hard, if you've been thinking about trying it do it! But first - Vote Buckboard Bacon!