Curing My First Buckboard Bacon -- IT'S DONE!!!! (w/ Q-view)

Discussion in 'Bacon' started by adiochiro3, Jun 5, 2011.

  1. adiochiro3

    adiochiro3 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Many of you more advanced smoking pals around here have inspired me to venture into the realm of cured meats.  I thought BBB was probably the easiest thing to attempt on the first go-around, and it sounds dang tasty as well!  At the suggestion of several well-respected SMF members, I chose a dry cure method for my BBB.

    Had a heck of a time finding Morton's Tender Quick -- I finally found it at an old school butcher shop about a dozen miles from home. [​IMG]   Regular grocers don't seem to have a clue, and the local butcher shop didn't carry it!

    Then there is the method & recipe questions.  Holy Moly!  Finding a straight-forward, precise method & recipe was a challenge.  Maybe I overcomplicated things, but I really want to get this right rather than make anyone sick.  It seems to me curing meats is a big a step beyond simply not cooking a piece of meat properly.

    Finding lists of ingredients was no problem; how it is assembled and played out was another matter.  Information was either contradictory or just plain thin on details.  For example:
    1. Do you mix everything with the TQ and then apply the rub, or do you rub the TQ on the meat first and add everything over the top of that?  Does it really matter?   (I saw both methods advocated.)
    2. At what stage do you add the maple syrup/molasses/honey?   (some sources say put it right in with the cure process, others say brush it on right before smoking.)
    3. Do you loosely vacuum seal or apply a full vacuum?  (Again, I saw both advocated.)
    4. How long to cure?  (Surprisingly, there is a wide discrepancy of thought on this subject, but I'm going with the precise instructions on the TQ package.)
    5. Don't a lot of your seasonings & flavorings wash off during the after-cure rinses?   Do you apply then?  Re-apply then?
    6. Do you leave it to air dry before smoking, or does pat-drying with a paper towel suffice?  How long to air dry?  In the fridge or in a cooler or on the counter (assuming no heat wave)?
    Every post I perused started by saying how great and easy making BBB is; however, after reading a mess of posts and web sites, I failed to discover the simplicity -- and, based on the landslide of questions and requests for clarification all over the web -- I'm not the only one. 

    I started kind of small scale: 5.5 lbs. of boneless pork butt from our local Asian market ($1.99/lb).

    [​IMG]

    I decided on a 3 ingredient cure: Morton's Tender Quick, pepper, and brown sugar.

    [​IMG]

    I decided the safest thing on the first go-around was to apply each ingredient separately, starting with the TQ (reasoning that was the important player & should have the first contact with the meat surface.  I massaged the TQ into every nook and cranny of the butts as is universally advocated.  Then I rubbed on the brown sugar and sprinkled with pepper.  I chose to cut off the vacuum process and apply the seal as soon as a) the air was out and, b) the juices just started moving toward the unit.  Here they are, all vacuum sealed up for their nap:

    [​IMG]

    I decided to add the maple syrup with a brush after the rinse, before the smoke.  Some recommend a drying period after the rinse, so I will probably put it on then. 

    Stay tuned; results in about 10 days!

    James
     
  2. chefrob

    chefrob Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    az
    there are many ways to skin a cat.......once you do it a couple of times you will have the confidence see what works for you. so far so good.............
     
  3. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    Looks like you did your homework, give it 10 days and smoke it up. I like to cold smoke for a few hours and then slowly bring it up to 140* and put in the fridge till the next day then slice it up. [​IMG]
     
  4. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Looks like you are off to a good start.

    The instructions with TQ are pretty much bullet proof as are things from Bear, Shooter Rick, and a lot of other experienced folks here.

    You will be very happy with your final product.  I know that you did it safely and you will have no worries.

    Good luck and good smoking.
     
  5. adiochiro3

    adiochiro3 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks to all for your encouragement and reassurance. I'm really looking forward to this smoke!
     
  6. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    We'll be waiting!

          [​IMG]
     
  7. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Tick Tock Tick Tock

    Todd
     
  8. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Adio, I'm sure you did everything fine, just by the fact that I could see you were really looking into it, but I'll try to answer your questions with my opinions (In Red):

    Finding lists of ingredients was no problem; how it is assembled and played out was another matter.  Information was either contradictory or just plain thin on details.  For example:
    1. Do you mix everything with the TQ and then apply the rub, or do you rub the TQ on the meat first and add everything over the top of that?  Does it really matter?   (I saw both methods advocated.)I always apply the TQ first, so I can see that it is distributed evenly over the whole of each piece. Then the other stuff, and anything that falls off, I make sure I shove it into that same bag (especially the TQ).
    2. At what stage do you add the maple syrup/molasses/honey?   (some sources say put it right in with the cure process, others say brush it on right before smoking.) I would have to say, if you're gonna use it, put it on just before smoking. It will make your Bacon all sticky, but I tried injecting it, and I tried putting it in during the curing process, and I got very little if any added flavor. It seemed a waste of good Maple Syrup.
    3. Do you loosely vacuum seal or apply a full vacuum?  (Again, I saw both advocated.) I just put each piece in it's own ziplock bag, and squeeze out most of the air (Doesn't matter much).
    4. How long to cure?  (Surprisingly, there is a wide discrepancy of thought on this subject, but I'm going with the precise instructions on the TQ package.) I go by thickness---One day per each 1/2" of thickness. Then I add 2 or 3 days to that for safety. If the Butt is more than 3 1/2" thick, I would slice it in half (thickness wise), or I would have to inject it. I'd rather slice it in half.
    5. Don't a lot of your seasonings & flavorings wash off during the after-cure rinses?   Do you apply then?  Re-apply then? Some does, but all I ever put in with the cure is Brown Sugar to counter the salt in the TQ. Then after I rinse, dry with paper towels, and fry test, I sprinkle CBP, Garlic powder, and Onion powder on it.
    6. Do you leave it to air dry before smoking, or does pat-drying with a paper towel suffice?  How long to air dry?  In the fridge or in a cooler or on the counter (assuming no heat wave)? I have an extra fridge, so I dry mine good with paper towels. Then I put the pieces on the smoking racks, and sprinkle my extra seasonings on. Then into the fridge overnight (uncovered). Then I still put it in 130˚ heat, before I start smoking, to be sure to get the pellicle started. If I didn't have the extra fridge, I would probably put it in without smoke for 2 hours at 130˚. You can also put it in front of a fan for an hour or two, if you don't want to add heat.
    Every post I perused started by saying how great and easy making BBB is; however, after reading a mess of posts and web sites, I failed to discover the simplicity -- and, based on the landslide of questions and requests for clarification all over the web -- I'm not the only one.  I have never done a "step by step" on BBB because I used Hi Mt, and I did not care for the results. The next time I do a BBB, I will take it to 145˚ (new USDA rules), and I will use TQ like I explained above, and I will do a "step by step" on it, because I know exactly what you're saying.

    Sorry I wasn't here sooner,

    Bear
     
  9. adiochiro3

    adiochiro3 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks everyone --especially Bear! Now inquiring minds know what's going on! I think you just did that step by step, Bear. Maybe your post could be reworked into a sticky? My plans were pretty spot on to your instructions -- save the maple syrup (which I now think I'll skip this round).

    The main thing is now I am completely confident I won't make anyone sick!
     
  10. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    [​IMG]
     
  11. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    [​IMG]

    Waiting is about the hardest part of makin bacon. I always mix my cure and other seasonings for it will mix and distribute around the meat during the curing process. The slat cure will pull the moisture out of the meat and that will help with the distribution of your spices. Now I would recommend curing your bacon for at least 10 days ( do mine 14 days) but it does depend on the thickness of the meat also. Now after it is cured and time for smoking I do recommend the fry test but your bacon will not taste like your fry bacon. Now I would also dry your bacon by hanging it in your smoker with your heat source on low for at least an hour. You should be able to touch it and it will have developed a skin almost. Then just smoke it as you normally do. Remember that you are only flavoring the bacon and not cooking it. You want to keep your temps down. After smoking for however long you want to left it hang out in he refrig for overnight or at least 12-16 hours and then slice it. Then believe me you will never buy bacon (except for ABT's and Fatties) at the store again. We don't and have a few friends that only eat my bacon. So I'm making bacon all the time around this house.
     
  12. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Great information and a very good consolidation of information for those of us contemplating making the jump.  Gotta get an extra fridge first though. 

    One thing that really amazes me is why everyone seems to have a tough time finding Tender Quick.  You'd think that Morton being a national supplier would target all the markets.  Up in my region (Pacific Northwest), I can't turn around in any store without finding Tender Quick and Morton's Sugar Cure, for that matter.  Son-In-Law (Denver Area) has a care package request in for Tender Quick when we visit in August.  Can we say leverage?

    [​IMG]  10 day supply.
     
  13. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I used to wonder that too Dave, but I think it might be a "Nitrite/Nitrate Phobia". The grocery store I get my TQ in doesn't sell any cure #1 either.

    I guess they'd rather not be involved.

    Bear
     
  14. raptor700

    raptor700 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

      I can't buy either one where i live.

    Thank god for Al Gore  [​IMG]  that Internet is awesome!
     
     
  15. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Even the so called "butchers" and "sausage makers" in my area carry no curing products.  Had to buy them all off the net.???

    Go figger?

    Good luck and good smoking.
     
  16. adiochiro3

    adiochiro3 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    [quote name="mballi3011" url="/forum/thread/107339/curing-my-first-buckboard-bacon-w-q-view#post_642324"]
    [​IMG]


    Waiting is about the hardest part of makin bacon. I always mix my cure and other seasonings for it will mix and distribute around the meat during the curing process. The slat cure will pull the moisture out of the meat and that will help with the distribution of your spices. Now I would recommend curing your bacon for at least 10 days ( do mine 14 days) but it does depend on the thickness of the meat also. Now after it is cured and time for smoking I do recommend the fry test but your bacon will not taste like your fry bacon. Now I would also dry your bacon by hanging it in your smoker with your heat source on low for at least an hour. You should be able to touch it and it will have developed a skin almost. Then just smoke it as you normally do. Remember that you are only flavoring the bacon and not cooking it. You want to keep your temps down. After smoking for however long you want to left it hang out in he refrig for overnight or at least 12-16 hours and then slice it. Then believe me you will never buy bacon (except for ABT's and Fatties) at the store again. We don't and have a few friends that only eat my bacon. So I'm making bacon all the time around this house.

    [/quote]

    Thanks, Mballi! I was definitely planning on the fry test, and I will dry the bacon before smoking. And I will TRY to be patient and let the bacon mellow overnight before slicing (& eating!)!!!!!!

    The meat is about 2 inches thick. Is 10 days enough? 12 better? Some advocate a 6 or 7 day cure on a 2 inch slab of meat. Seems risky to me.....
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2011
  17. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    2" thick by the formula I use means a minimum of 6 days (4 halves plus 2 days for safety). I usually throw another day or two on that, so my call would be 7 or 8 days.

    The main thing would be no less that 6 days. But then if you're busy, or bad weather, it wouldn't hurt to go to 9, 10, or 11 days, just make sure you do the fry test, in case it needs a little soaking.  You probably won't need to, but you never know.

    Bear
     
  18. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Taking this one step further,  meat thickness, say up to 2 1/2 inches on average.  Much thicker presents it's own problems due to penetration of cure?  Is there a maximum length or a point where no benefit would be derived resting in the cure (assume 2 1/2 " thickness for answer)?   I'm seeing a suggestion of 11 days but what if a longer time might be needed due to some unknown reason where the lucky guy would be away from his home.  I know I'm getting kinda picky but heck, let's say, some dumb slob runs into my beautiful truck and I end up in the hospital for a couple of weeks and I've got bacon in the macon (sorry, couldn't pass that up).  I certainly couldn't expect SWMBO to handle the situation.

     
     
  19. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    good luck on your bacon.............. will be watching.....[​IMG]
     
  20. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    For your first part,
    Personally, I would either slice in half anything more than 3 1/2" thick, or inject it. I have injected some Eye rounds for Dried Beef, but I would rather avoid that. So if I had a 4" piece of meat, I would cut it down to two pieces, 2" thick, that would need a minimum of 6" in cure. Then I would probably cure them for 8 days.

    The later part:

    There was some discussion about holding things  for longer times, like you mention. Freezing was brought up, but I can't remember what became of that discussion.

    It's on this forum some place, and bbally might have been in that one.

    Bear
     

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