All, I have a couple questions about homemade bacon.
A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a pork belly at Costco that was just around a quarter pound shy of 10 pounds. For the next couple of days, I watched videos, read about recipes and techniques, etc etc etc, to the point of my head almost exploding. At that point, I sent a private message to DaveOmak (?) because he seems to be an expert on this subject..........as well as many others. Which is awesome.
I also got some information on another thread and someone posted a link to a handy calculator for measuring how much curing powder, salt and sugar it would need. Sorry, I can't remember who that was to give them credit, but here is the link to the calculator for those that might not know about it already:
Short story long......(er), I mixed up my curing solution, put it on as evenly as I could and then cut the belly in half because the whole thing wouldn't fit in my 2 gallon Ziploc bags. Wrapped them in plastic wrap and put them in the bags and into the refrigerator, turning them over each or every other day.
According to Dave, I should have left them in the fridge for two weeks, took them out, rinsed and dried them and put them back in the fridge unwrapped for another week and then cold smoked them.
Well, I just couldn't wait that long and was anxious to try it out, so I rinsed and dried just one of the pieces (going to leave the other in the full two weeks (comes out Sunday) and cut a small piece off and cooked it to see if it was too salty. It was not, so I put it unwrapped in the fridge for what ended up being a full day and a half, instead of a week and started the smoking process. The first 8 hours didn't seem to produce very much smoke flavor at all, and since it was only 59 degrees when I got up today, I put it in again until the temperature in my smoker got up to 73 degrees.
Now for the questions:
What is the science behind this all, if anyone knows, because there are SOOOOOO many varying ideas, recipes, techniques, etc?? Why the two week cure and then a week in the fridge open? Does that do something special to the belly? Is there a certain way to cut the belly into slices like there is with brisket so it's not so chewy?
I ask these questions for a couple of reasons. First, because my bacon is a bit on the tough side. I tried slicing it two different directions to see if that made a difference, but I really can't tell much of one. And I sliced it almost as thin as the cheaper bacon in the stores, like the Farmer Browns at Sam's Club. I was hoping it would be nice and crisp, but not so much unless it was on the burned end of the spectrum. The flavor is AMAZING, I have to say. The wife LOVES the flavor.
Did my being impatient make this first try at makin' bacon not as successful as I had hoped? Does the shorter curing time have something to do with it being a little bit tough and will leaving it in longer make it cook crispier?
Thanks in advance. I wish I could "tag" Dave in this post, but I will probably just send him a link via private message, but if anyone else has any thoughts, I would love to here them before I do the other one that's still in the fridge.