Looks perfect. Why is drying before smoking it so important?
Bacon Rookie Mistake - Page 2
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It forms a pellicle for the smoke to stick to, instead of the smoke mixing with moisture on the surface, and forming a bad tasting scum.
At least that is my view of it.
I found this at http://www.3men.com/bacon_making.htm. Your view would appear to be correct Bear.
Preparation for Smoking
Rinse the pork bellies with fresh water, and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Before you smoke the bellies, you must further dry them so that a pellicle forms on the outside of the meat. A pellicle forms as a result of the cure pulling water soluble proteins up to the surface of the meat. When these proteins dry, they form a shiny, sticky coating over the meat, which will absorb the smoke much better. The meat will not take smoke until the surface is dry. If the meat is smoked when still damp, it will be smudgy, not rich in color and not taste as good.
LOL---I probably used a poor choice of words there, but the better words were in the back of my head, and I was in too much of a hurry to roam around back there.
Just sometimes can't take the country out of the boy.