Not sure where my brain was when I started this project. I guess because I realized that I missed taking pictures of the first step or two I gave up documenting till the end... This bacon (both kinds) turned out so well that I figured I should share even though the pictures are lacking. I hope you enjoy.
The maple brine below is something my uncle Rob (an ex-butcher) shared with me. The Honey Cured bacon was a season packet (that I bought from Michlitch Spice Co) that does a 10 pound belly and all I had to do was add 1 pound of honey and flip it a bunch of times. Both like I said turned out amazing!
After both styles of bacon were done curing I let them dry a day or so in the fridge (on a drying rack) and let them get tacky to the touch. I heard somewhere that smoke does not stick to water / moisture. Weird huh...?!
Maple Brine Recipe (Great for Bacon and Hams):
3 Gallons Water
6 cups Brown Sugar
2 cups White Sugar
1 1/2 tsp maplelene (concentrated maple flavoring - blue and white box in the spice section of your local grocery store)
3 TBS Liquid Smoke (I would cut this back a little if not completely out - for heaven sakes I smoked it for 8+ hours)
2 cups Salt
3 tsp #1 Pink Salt
2 TBS of Fennel Seed
Inject Belly with brine then cover pork belly with remainder so that it is completely submerged... 5 to 6 days and you should be ready. Fry test (a little drying out) and then smoke. I cut the recipe in half and was able to do one 10 pound belly in a tub.
I smoked the bacon with Hickory Pellets in my Amazin Pellet Smoker! Never had to refill it with fuel...
Temp in my smoker started around 100*F for an hour or two and then climbed it up to 125 to 135*F for the remainder of the smoke until the internal temp of the meat reached around 125*F.
I cut it extra thick on a 12" Hobart Slicer. My favorite watering hole is 10 houses away and they let me borrow it for a small fee..
Vacuumed sealed in 8 strip packs and in the deep freeze! BLT's Anyone?!
P.S. Thank you Bearcarver for the behind the scenes advice!
This is the link for Michlitch Spice Co (AKA Spokane Spice Co) where I purchased the honey cure
Honey Cure on the right and Maple on the left....