When I make maple bacon I do a dry cure which always results in a good end product, it can tend to be a time consuming but defiantly not messy. Never used maple syrup as this way too messy in my line of business, if there is any chance that you can get hold of some maple sugar this is the way to go
A quick run down to what I do; Bellies are boneless with the rind on. I rub all sides of the bellies with a AP salt and start stacking them in a tub that has a rack in the bottom so that the bellies will not sit in the juice/liquid that comes from the bellies while curing. Next I give the bellie that I have placed in the tub (rind down) a dusting of a spice combination that I have for this job on top of this I will give a light dusting of the maple sugar.
This I will repeat for all the bellies that I will be putting down, will place in my cooler for seven days after which I will give the bellies a quick rinse under tepid water to remove excess salt from the outside, I will then put into a container and cover with cold water for one (might go over depending on my jobs) this will remove any excess salt.
after one hour I will hang to dry until the bellies are just about dry but still slightly tacky. I will then re-stack the bellies (top one down first and the previous bottom one will now become the top one) first one down and I will cover with more maple sugar; repeat until the whole stack has been rebuilt -- leave for one more week in the cooler
A week later I will cold smoke --- do not rinse -- just pull from container and hang in smokehouse -- depending on how one likes the smoke depends on how long you would/will smoke them -- I do three smokes which will take four days after which I hang for between two to five days (depends on weather and humidity) to dry and mature (build up flavours)
A very good friend has stated that I produce pure crack -- one taste and you are addicted for life --- a year ago this friend was up visiting frends and dropped in to see me, I sent him home with two packets of maple bacon -- his wife has let him come visiting again (a year later) with the very strict instructions that he had to learn the secret and the recipe before retuning home -- and not to return home unless he had done so.
That friend is a very well respected person on most of these forums, some may or may not know him ---- vagreys
This is my latest batch -- and yes the maple flavour is over the top but not over powering as the hint of the spices come forward along withe the smoke and maturing