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My 1st attempt at belly bacon

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Since there seems to be a good amount of talk about bacon lately, I thought I would show ya what I did about a month ago.

When shopping at the local Mexican Market, I saw fresh pork bellys in the meat case... Had to give it a try, so I picked up 10lbs of it. Looked around the net and various forums looking to see how much Tender Quick to use and found a lot of various opinions on the subject. I sort of took all of the amounts and decided to go about half way... So for 10lbs of belly, I used 7 oz of MTQ, 1/2 cup of fresh cracked black pepper and a little more than 1/2 cup of turbinado sugar. I ran the sugar and pepper corns through the burr grinder so they were fairly small and consistant granules, but not as small as the TQ. Rubbed the various pieces of belly and bagged them up and put 'em in the 38° fridge. I turned them once a day for 8 days.

Here they are fresh from the market and then rubbed up with cure and those two with maple syrup.

After 8 days in the fridge, rinsed and patted dry.

Put the cured pieces on the big ugly pit. 2 bottom pieces with fresh cracked pepper and the 2 top pieces with Sucklebusters Hoochie Mama. The little piece was just left plain.

Tried to keep the temps down and the smoke up, so I used the basket from one of my UDSs with some briquettes and small hickory splits.

Temps were a little iffy in the early going (I've got a plan for better control on the next attempt). They got up to 200 for a very short while, but I managed to get the temps back down to ~150° for most of the cook. Took them off at about 140° internal. They finished up a bit earlier than I wanted. here they are after 5 1/2 hrs, I was shooting for about 8 hours in the smoke.

Wrapped and ready to sit in the chill chest for a day or so.

I know your supposed to chill it several hours for the flavors to bloom (or what ever they call it), but I couldn't stand it no more... I had to try at least a piece, so I took the skin off the smallest slab, sliced then fried it in an old CI skillet... Over all, not bad... not bad at all really. Maybe a little salty. Next time I might back off on the TQ a bit, or leave the cure on it for 1 less day...

These are the slices from the small piece of belly. They were only about 2/3s as long as a regular bacon slice.

Got the rest of the bacon sliced up and most of it vac packed for later use. Slicing by hand sure ain't no fun. I'll be looking for a decent, economically priced slicer... Maybe Santa will bring me one.

Also had to have an obligatory BLT.

Over all, I'm impressed with the final product. Other than having to wait a week or more, it was a very easy process and I will be doing this again and again...
post #2 of 21
Your bacon looks great. If it tastes as good as it looks you did really good. The amount of TQ is very specific on the package. Doesn't really matter what folks opinion on it is.. you need to follow the instructions, as too much can be a health hazard. One tablespoon of tenderquick per pound of meat. Great smoke!
post #3 of 21
That looks great! I love a post with ton's of Q-view! Thanks
post #4 of 21
good looken bacon thanks for the qviewPDT_Armataz_01_37.gif
post #5 of 21
That looks great!!! points.gif

I agree with the bad part of waiting, by the looks of it, you got plenty of room on your smoker to do more at a time.
post #6 of 21
Looks GREAT James !

I can taste it from here.
If it was a little too salty, like you say, I wouldn't cut back on the number of days. I'd go with less TQ. You used 7 ounces of TQ. That would have been enough TQ for 14 pounds of meat. I would cut back to 1/2 ounce (one tablespoon) per pound, and maybe a day or two longer curing.

Other than that, like I said----"Darn that looks good !"PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif

post #7 of 21
That's some real fine looking bacon you've got there.
post #8 of 21
Well it looks better than anything I have ever seen in the store, that's for sure. Great jobPDT_Armataz_01_37.gif
post #9 of 21
Looks great James. At first I thought you got it too hot, but your sliced picture look really good. I can't believe you sliced those by hand....you ought to be a surgeonicon_mrgreen.gif!

post #10 of 21
Bravo to you....PDT_Armataz_01_37.gifI really like the looks of your BLT.
post #11 of 21
awesome post, and step by step instructions, points.gif

this is on my list to try asap
post #12 of 21
The problem with using too much TQ is the nitrite/nitrate level. Those are the bad boys you don't want to get too much of. I picked up a book from Mortons and they instruct 1 tablespoon per pound of meat and cure at 1 day per 1/4 inch. I'm a salt nut so I don't usually have a problem with the salt content but you would need to soak and rinse until you lower the salt taste. Another thing they suggest is an equalization time after the cure and rinse. That is just some time sitting in the fridge covered. If you want to have more control over the salt content try the instacure 1. I get it as an LEM product from basspro. You use way less and there is little to no salt in it. Again.... awesome Qview.
post #13 of 21
i'll give ya points for that. Looks AMAZING
post #14 of 21
I SWEAR one of these days I'm gonna try this.

points.giffor some beautiful looking bacon. Just get those curing ingredients dialed in and hopefully it'll taste as great as it looks!

Give us some details on what you thought of how the different spice blends turned out. I may have read it wrong, but it looked like you did 1 plain, 2 with pepper and turbinado sugar and 2 with just maple syrup. Did I read that right?
post #15 of 21
Great looking BLT, wow I want to try this.
post #16 of 21
JamesB - RIGHT ON! I've got my first batch curing right now, and if it turns out half as good as yours looks, I'll stamp it a success!

Just curious if you soaked yours in fresh water after you rinsed? In my research that is recommended to deal with the saltiness. Can't wait to give mine a try on Sunday.

Thanks for sharing.
post #17 of 21
James that is Awesome looking bacon! That BLT really got the juices flowing I can tell you that...biggrin.gif

I definitely see smoking some bacon in my Near future. This forum makes me feel like a kid in a candy store - every time I turn around I see something else I want.. Great job..

post #18 of 21
very informative thread. Both your step by step descriptions, as well as follow up comments. I bookmarked this and will be reviewing it when I decide to make this.PDT_Armataz_01_37.gif
post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks again folks. It was fun and I can't wait to give bacon another go with all the additional info that I've picked up along the way.

I had 5 pieces to work with. I cured all of them with the same concoction of MTQ, pepper and sugar. 2 pieces I added maple syrup to them along with the base cure.

After the cure, the smallest piece, I just left plain. I applied fresh cracked black pepper to one of the maple cured pieces and the Hoochie Mama rub to the other.

The two non-maple pieces, I did the same.

All in all, I couldn't really tell that the maple syrup did anything for the bacon. The pieces with the rub, had a sweet outer crust as would be expected, but I liked the pepper crusted pieces the best.

I rinsed the pieces off very well, but I didn't soak. I will next time though! I did pat all of it dry with paper towels after the rinse and let it sit in the fridge uncovered for about 7 hours before I added the additional pepper and rub and put it in the smoke.

On the next batch, I'll cut the cure back to 1/2 Tbsp per lb. It was only the smallest piece that tasted too salty to me at the time. The bacon had excellent smoke flavor in spite of teh relatively short smoke time. Next time, I will shoot for a longer smoke.
post #20 of 21
Nice looking bacon. I can't wait to try belly bacon myself. I need to locate the pork bellies and then I'm going to try.
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