first try at bacon, any suggestions?

Discussion in 'Smoking Bacon' started by basselope, May 20, 2013.

  1. I have been lurking for quite a while and I  finally joined and started curing some pork belly

    Unfortunately finding pork bellies in the store here in LA is not an easy task.  I located some at an Asian supermarket, but the pieces were rather small 1.5-2 lbs each. (if anyone knows a good source for PB in the LA area, please speak up)

    I have three of them (total of 5 lbs) individually bagged after applying the cure.  I got the amounts from the calculator at Digging Dog Farms (Thanks!)

    Yes I weighed each piece and did each one individually.  I did one with just salt sugar, and pink salt, I added pepper to one, bay leaf to another and all three got dark molasses sugar.

    Since the pieces are rather small I am thinking about 5 days in the bag should be about right.  Thoughts?

    Anyway after removing from the bag, and a test fry (and water bath if needed)

    I guess about a day in the fridge and then smoke to 150 internal.

    If anyone has any suggestions, I am all ears.
  2. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Get friendly with the Butcher at the Asian Market. When they order they may hold back a whole Belly for you. Additionally, some Restaurant Food Distributors do walk-in sales to the public and if you have not already checked, Latin markets are usually good sources as well, Chicharrones from Belly is very popular.  Smoking to an IT of 150*F is ok if you wish to eat it straight from the Refer, but if you Cook your Bacon before eating there is really no need to hot smoke. I like 10 hours of Cold Smoke on my Bacon. Some guys go 3 or more times that...JJ
  3. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Back when I lived close to Houston I got where I would go the the slaughter house. Look in the phone book for an auction barn (thats where they buy and sell livestock) ask the sec. where the closest slaughter house is and the name. These days of mass transportation it can be close or far. But I would think a large as LA is and the indigenious population there should be more than one slaughter house. There are some serious open pit cooks out there.

    Then just show up one moring with a HUGE box of donuts and make friends.

    It never hurts to find and make friends at the slaughterhouse. And Sale barns, are the most fun to just attend. Just keep your hands in your pockets and don't scratch your nose.... J/K
    Last edited: May 21, 2013
  4. Have you tried a Mexican store or supplier? Maybe Smart and Final?

    I was out in the San Diego area about 3 months ago and priced bellies. $4/lb.

    They kept their bellies and I made Buckboard Bacon. Butts came from Smart and Final.
    Last edited: May 21, 2013
  5. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I just remembered, there is an excellant post here on buckboard bacon using butts. Starts with how to cut and lay 'em out to frying some and making your mouth water. you could always look at that if you can't find any sow belly.

    Another thought, jowls also work great, they were like the rich folks bacon cause they had so much more meat than sow belly.

    Just an idea or two.
    Last edited: May 21, 2013
  6. While I live in the barrio, I have so far struck out with all the Latin / Hispanic markets I have checked for pork bellies.  Smart and Final around here does not carry pork bellies. 

    Getting to know the Asian butcher sounds like a good idea, I will pursue that.

    I'm not sure if there are any slaughter houses in LA proper, I will have to look into that.

    Chef JimmyJ I like the idea of cold smoke, but it has been pretty warm here as of late, and I am a bit concerned about what temp I will wind up with if I try to cold smoke.  I could probably run the Weber bullet all night with just my a-maze-n pellet unit inside, I'm guessing the temp would be in the 60-70 degree range.

    If this sounds reasonable, I will give it a shot.

    Thanks for all the help guys.
  7. Last edited: May 22, 2013
  8. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Don't worry about the ambient temp. If it is too warm to keep your smoker under 100, it certainly isn't going to hurt it---might even help it.

    I have cold smoked & warm smoked "Belly Bacon", and the least tasty were the ones cold smoked under 10 hours. The best were warm smoked, at about 130, for 10 or 11 hours until I got my nice dark color. Also I have never had any fat rendering at that temp.

    You can get the same thing with cold smoking, but it will take a lot longer. Most cold smokers do 20, 30, or even 40 hours. I haven't done that yet, but I'm betting it will be Awesome!!!

    This Step by Step shows all, including times & temps:


    On Edit:  Almost missed: The size of your Belly pieces has nothing to do with how many days to dry cure. I go by the thickness. The link above has an explanation for curing time too.
    Last edited: May 22, 2013
  9. Jarhead - thanks I'll check them out.
    Bear - thanks, I'm off to read the linked thread.
  10. Not sure if this place is too far But I bought a whole slab "11 pounds" at Valley Produce Market 23975 Newhall Ranch Rd. Valencia,Ca

    They had pork bellies on sale until 5/18 for 2.89 - 2.69? a pound they have cut up pieces in the deli case but if you ask the butcher for a whole 

    one he'll get it out of the walkin cooler.
  11. You rock! That only a few miles up the road from me. (I'm in Sylmar)

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