Here is my another attempt at smoked bacon, although it is not quite the bacon most people think of on this forum. First of all, I eat my finished bacon raw, or better to say I never fry it. After bit of a googling around I found the English term for it - salo.
Salo was the stuff I remember gorging on. The wikipedia has pretty good article on salo, although in my opinion there are few mistakes there - it claims that it is mostly smoked in southern parts of Europe and unsmoked in north - from my personal experience it is other way round. Also it claims that it is rarely made from bellies - again I remember that one that was streaked with meat was sought after. Actually, some guys would not make one unless had three equal layers of meat and fat (hence the jargon name "adidas" belly). The minimum thickness was at least one inch, two inches were considerd ideal.
Anyway, here we go. Ordered some bellies from my butcher - ended up taking home ~8lb of meat. I'd prefer belies thicker than I've gotten, but I didn't have enoug time to shop around, although they had 1.5inch thick 2lb bellies in local supermarket meat section - I'm staying clear from that stuff as I don't trust the meat quality.
After trimming I've ended up with 3 pieces ~2.5lb each:
And another pic:
Prepared dry cure: salt, sugar, garlic powder and cure #1.
And here they are before rub, cure amount divided according to the weight of each slab:
Into ziplock bags and in fridge for 10 days, turned over twice a day. After 10 days of curing, rinsed well and soaked in iced water for 15 min. Put homemade hooks in and hang them in draft, assisted with fan. The pellicle formed in 2 hours.
Fired up AMNS loaded with mesquite dust. On the the top shelf went few pieces of New Zealand made havarti and Italian provole cheese.
Bacon stayed in smoker for two days and nights, cheese lasted only one AMNS load (8 hours). It made dint in my dust supplies.
On Sunday night, I've zapped the bacon with hour of heavier smoke from oak chips to get nice dark color.
And few pics of finished (still warm) product:
All three pices were cut in half, one piece always resides in fridge redy to be eaten, the rest awaits their fate vacuum sealed in freezer. I can tell you they will not last very long. Kids love my salo and few friends also discovered great taste of this humble delicacy.
It is consumed sliced thick (or thin for some heretics), always with bread (rye preferrably) and all possible combinations of whatever pickles or fresh vegetables are on hand. Yum!
Cheese is still maturing in the fridge, looks great, hope it tastes OK. I've smoked havarti before and I like it because it is still soft after smoke, whereas cheddar tends to dry out too much and becomes crumbly.
Cheers to all and happy smoking.