I was going to put this in "Cold-Smoking", but my smoker temp got up over 100˚.
I checked on my Bacon supply a couple weeks ago. It looked like I had quite a bit left, but I decided not to take a chance of running out of Bacon before Tomato season ends. Got a fresh belly from one of my butchers, and began the process. Cut one 11 pound, 5 ounce belly into 6 smaller pieces, weighed each piece individually, and weighed out the right amount of Tender Quick for each piece. Rinsed each piece, dried them good with paper towels, and rubbed them good with 1/2 ounce (1 TBS) per pound of belly. Also added about a TBS of brown sugar with each pound of belly. Put each piece in it's own zip-lock bag (along with any TQ that fell off, because the cure was measured exactly----never throw away any cure that falls off), squeezed the extra air out, zipped them shut, and put them in the fridge. I kept the fridge between 37˚ and 38˚ for 9 days, massaging & flipping each bag every day.
On day 9 I removed them from the fridge, rinsed them off in cold water, and soaked them in ice water for 1/2 hour. Then I patted them dry, cut a couple slices, and did a fry test for salt Perfect!
Patted them dry again, laid them out on two smoker racks, not touching each other, sprinkled black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder on them, and put the racks in the fridge over night.
Next day, preheated my MES 30 to 110˚, put the two racks of belly pieces on the top two positions for about 45 minutes to dry them off a little more. Then I pulled the plug on my MES 30, because I wanted to try to do somewhat close to a "cold-smoke". I had a Prototype A-MAZE-N-Smoker to test, so I loaded it up with Hickory dust, lit it, and stuck it in to the left of the chip drawer. This new AMNS should put out as much smoke lighting one end as my 6 X 6 puts out lighting both ends. We expected it to run about 9 hours or more. It ran nearly 3 hours on the first of three rows, but the second row burned much faster, and jumped through the wall into the third wall. I put that out & continued. End result was 6 1/2 hours of medium heavy smoke---Very very good, but not perfect. I notified Todd, with my report & a few suggestions, and he is taking it from there. He will fix this---He is the man behind that little miracle!
Back to the Bacon:
After 4 hours of smoking, the temperature of the box got up to 129˚ and the meat up to 97˚, so I put a half gallon jug of ice in my water pan to cool it down (trying to cold-smoke). This brought the box temp down to 122˚, but then it started creeping up again. When it hit 124˚, I put another half gallon of ice in the water pan. That brought the temp of the box down to 108˚. At the end of 6 1/2 hours of smoke, the AMNS Prototype burned out. I left the Bacon in for another 1/2 hour & pulled it. When I pulled it, the box was at 100˚, and the Bacon was at 100˚.
I left it cool a little more, wrapped it in plastic wrap, and put it in the fridge for two days. Then I sliced it all, vacuum packed it, and stuck it in my meat freezer to await their turn with the tomato, lettuce, and toast.
My findings with this Bacon:
I have smoked Bacon to numerous degrees of internal temp. This Bacon was GREAT, but no better or worse than the ones I took to 128˚, 139˚, and 145˚. So I can still say, I don't care where it falls between 100˚ and 145˚----It is ALL GREAT ! Maybe it's just that I love Bacon soooo much!?!?
Thanks for lookin'
Enjoy the Qview below:
Belly pieces ready for the cure:
Tender Quick measured out for each piece:
Cure & Brown Sugar and ready for fridge. These are just stacked to carry to the basement fridge.
Lay them flat in the fridge, so the whole piece is in the juice that forms in each bag:
Out of cure:
On racks, ready for over night in fridge:
Note: Notice my Maverick probes in fridge. The smoker one hanging in air runs from 31˚ to 43˚.
The meat probe is in the bottle of water, and reads 37˚ and 38˚. Any fluctuation causes me to adjust.
Loading up the A-MAZE-N-SMOKER & lighting it up:
After 2 1/4 hours:
Bottle of frozen water (AKA Ice):
After 4 hours, cooling her down:
Out of the smoker:
All sliced up:
Vacuum packed for freezing:
"BLT Neat" (Take a bite--Pop a cherry, Take a bite--Pop a cherry)
That's All Folks !
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