OK, final notes.
Now, I've been PM'ing Mr T 59874 a bit on this, and in his last note he mentioned that cooking bacon cured with nitrite at temperatures in excess of 350 isn't recommended, so he's been baking his at lower temperatures:
A bacon cooking study, "Effect of Frying and Other Cooking Conditions on Nitrosopyrrolidine Formation in Bacon" (Journal of Science, Vol. 39, pages 314-316), showed no evidence of nitrosamines in bacon fried at 210 °F for 10 minutes (raw), 210 °F for 15 minutes (medium well), 275 °F for 10 minutes (very light), or 275 °F for 30 minutes (medium well). But when bacon was fried at 350 °F for 6 minutes (medium well), 400 °F for 4 minutes (medium well), or 400 °F for 10 minutes (burned), some nitrosamines were found. Thus, well-done or burned bacon is potentially more hazardous than less well-done bacon. Also, bacon cooked by a microwave has less nitrosamine than fried bacon.
I thought I would give this a shot, so I placed a few strips on a rack in a baking sheet in the oven at 325° for about 35 minutes, Pop's brine on the left and dry cure on the right:
- On the taste we had a split decision, as predicted. My son and I both liked the dry cure better, my wife the wet brined. The bacon done in Pop's brine definitely had a 'sweeter' flavor, but certainly not overpowering or even pronounced. I think it only tasted that way because we were comparing to the dry cure, which did not have the same 'sweetness'. Neither one was salty, but in a direct comparison the dry cure tasted 'saltier' than the brined. In either case, both were very good. There is a high end privately owned breakfast restaurant in our area that offers their own 'thick sliced bacon'. You get 4 pieces on a plate for about $4-$5 (they have 3 locations with different prices), and it's well known to be the best bacon around. Both of these are better than that.
- The dry cure seemed to absorb more smoke. Again not overpowering, I wrote in my own notes that this was about the perfect amount of smoke, but I think we might like a little less than some folks here on the forum. If I was just doing Pop's brine I might be tempted to give it a few more hours, but the dry cure was about perfect. The kitchen had a wonderful aroma when slicing this up.
- The texture was just a little different, the dry cure crisped up a bit sooner than the brined. Again, I think only noticeable in a direct comparison, if you were just cooking the brined you would just cook it a few minutes longer and not think anything about it. When slicing the dry cure was definitely firmer.
It's been many years since my wife and I compared the differences between wet (recipe long gone) and dry cured belly bacon and I purposely did not tell you as I wanted your personal results without outside influence. Although both are very good we simply prefer the dry cured bacons color and texture over the wet. We also thought that the dry cured bacon had a more pronounced bacon flavor as the wets bacon flavor seemed to be somewhat diluted. This was our personal observation, others may be different.
My only disappointment was in the belly itself, it was very fatty. The next time I will definitely take more time trimming before hand. I ended up with at least 2 pounds of just fat I cut off, but I did this after curing and smoking, so I have a bag of cured / smoked fat in the freezer, not at all sure what I can do with this (if anything). Even my son, who would eat butter by the spoonful if we let him, said the bacon was really good but there was too much fat in it, and that he liked the Canadian bacon better because of that.
Render that fat down and use it for your cooking needs. Those eggs will love it.
Other observations are that I need a slicer and a vacuum sealer. And my lovely wife said that she is officially 'bacon-ed out', and doesn't want to see another piece of bacon until at least after the holidays.
Glad you took the time to properly cure your bacon using Morton Tender Quick and enjoyed the results.
The slight sweetness and saltiness can easily be corrected by adjusting the sugar amount or type in your ingredients, we prefer the dark brown. By allowing your bacon to completely equalize, you are very close to finding the balance needed in producing the perfect bacon for yourself.
When applying rub on our bacon, I half the bacon, weigh each and place each half in separate 2 gallon zip bags, mix the proper ingredients along with any flavorings for each half and apply to the bacon in the bag. This is similar to using Morton sugar cure products. This method saves from making a mess and insures all the cure is applied.
Enjoyed working with you on this test. Good job.