Hello folks! It's been almost an hour since anyone has posted a first BB thread, so I thought I'd pick up the slack. I consider myself pretty capable when it comes to my smoker, I've already prepared many examples of beef, pork and poultry, including a signature 5 rib standing beef roast (see profile pic), but I have yet to brave curing anything at home. I've always wanted to do a bacon so I spent a few days scouring this forum then decided now was the time. As a first-timer I figured the smart thing to do was to go the foolproof route and mix up a gallon of Pop's brine. I have a jar of #1 Prague Powder I ordered some time ago to make some Hawaiian Portuguese sausage, which I have yet to tackle but I'll put it to good use on a couple of pork belly sections from my local meat market. They sell perfectly trimmed vacuum-bagged slabs for under $4 a pound, not a bad deal considering they look much meatier than sliced commercial bacon.
ON TO THE INGREDIENTS!
As you can see all the major players are there. I used 3/4 cup of salt and the sugars, halfway between the regular and low-sodium recipes. I went with pickling salt because I had a whole box of it and it dissolves well in cold water. They recently had to bump up the chlorine level in my tap water, so I thought a jug of the bottled stuff would be a wise investment. I also threw in an airline-sized bottle of whiskey just because, probably not enough to make a damn, but can't hurt. The beer is for me, there's some kind of law in Texas that requires it (GO SPURS!).
I'm a stickler for cooking by weight, so I thought I'd see how close a heaping tablespoon of pink salt came to one ounce:
Close enough for me. Everything went into a big pitcher and mixed up nicely. I'd like to put the bellies on end in a bucket which allows for the best brine exposure, but that won't fit in my fridge. I found some plastic slotted spacers in a couple of salad storage containers, a respectable cause but they will now be utilized for a more noble purpose. I layered them between the slabs in a big flat container, this should allow for plenty of contact with the precious fluid:
I collapsed an old Gatorade bottle and filled it water to hold the meat under the liquid when the lid is on, love the color of that brine:
All closed up and ready a couple of weeks in the refrigerator. Longest half month of my life:
To be continued...