I'm putting this under Pork since the primary adventure today is Bacon. However, since a full smoker is a happy smoker, I've also got smoked Sea Salt and chicken quarters for tonight's dinner. :-)
The Bacon adventure began last week, when I was at my local butcher shop and discovered that he had pork belly for a decent price. For this first attempt, I decided to start small and just got a single 3LB slab. This will be "dry" cured and then hot smoked (My AMNPS doesn't arrive until next week so cold smoke isn't an option yet).
The slab was slightly too large for my gallon size bags so I split it and weighed each piece individually. For this experiment I am also leaving the skin on, until after smoke and rest. I created separate dishes of cure mixture for each, based on the weight of each one. The rub is simply Tender Quick, measured by weight, to which I then added 2 TBS of dark brown sugar and 2 TBS of grade A dark amber Maple syrup. I placed the slabs in individual bags and then the sticky concoction was rubbed as well as possible into each slab. After the massage, each piece was sprinkled with approximately a tsp of fresh cracked pepper and the bags were sealed and sent to the bottom of the fridge.
After a full week of daily flips and massages, we have finally arrived at smoking day. you can see how much liquid was pulled from each piece.
They were rinsed and then the much anticipated fry test commenced!
OH MY GOODNESS! Even without smoke, that is some of the best pig I have ever tasted!
So...no soaking, just placed in front of a fan to dry and form a bit of a pellicle.
Meanwhile, back at the smoker, I started my first ever tray of Sea Salt and also loaded in our dinner. Pic below is halfway point on the chicken, time to rotate the trays and toss in a little more wood. I should also mention that I am NOT using a water pan today, due to the salt and placed the meat a little lower in the box than usual to help keep it from steaming the salt. We're running applewood chips at 230 degrees for everything today.
Was headed fro 160 with the quarters but overshot a little. Actually pulled at 165. :-( Set to rest and tented with foil for about 15 minutes.
And dinner is served!
While the chicken was resting, the bacon went into the smoker.
Forgot to check the time when it went in but was monitoring the temp. Pulled at 150 IT on the thicker piece. I think time was just under two hours.
One will be plastic wrapped and set in the fridge to equalize...there is no way I can keep from slicing and cooking at least one tomorrow! LOL