Alton Brown

Discussion in 'Smoking Bacon' started by wildflower, Jul 22, 2010.

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  1. Scrap Iron Chef

    Episode EA1E12

    has three cures listed

    honey mustard cure

    Molasses black pepper cure

    red pepper brine
  2. shooterrick

    shooterrick Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I read the recipe and some of the comments about cold smoking this.  I should point out for safety reasons that no commercial cure is in the recipe and therefore without nitrates/nitrites in known quantities, cold smoke at your own risk.  The recipe does sound good but I would add a commercial cure and follow recommended times of the cure.  This reply was not meant to be negative just my 2 cents on the safety of the process outlined.
  3. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I agree totally!  Cold smoking does impart a nitrite effect under 80° from substances in the wood, but your time would be greatly lengthened to get the effect from it, like weeks.
    scarbelly likes this.
  4. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Add another one to the list:

    Brining without real cure for 3 days.

    Then cold smoking for 4 to 6 hours.

    Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.

    I used to have more respect for Alton Brown.

  5. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'd have no problems with it.

    For one, the salt will draw out enough moisture that it will inhibit bacteria growth. Also the honey is so sweet that it will also inhibit bacteria growth(Honey is one of the few foods that will not spoil) Also, since the belly is not pierced there will be no bacterial penetration into the meat and it will also be in the fridge where cold temps will also help in inhibiting any bacterial growth.
  6. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    I'm new to this stuff, I'll stick with cure. [​IMG]
  7. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'd do the same. But I would suggest that one keeps an open mind to other methods of curing, some which have been proven over hundreds of years, long before curing salt & refrigeration was available.

    Look at it this way. You're uncomfortable about using a recipe that has been televised on national TV(in a society that is one of the most litigenous on this planet). But you're comfortable adding a product that is a known human toxin to your food. And then you're going to smoke it over wood or charcoal which emits carbon monoxide/carbon dioxide, and particulates(the smoke) which coat the food that you (and me) are eating.
    hannibal and aldersmoke like this.
  8. scarbelly

    scarbelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I agree with Shooter and Pops - This may not be a safe practice - the info is too vague to confirm the process in my opinion - Hope your methods work out safely

    Good Luck

  9. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Being a victim of the TV of the 60's, I have a very jaundice eye when it's on the telly.  Just because it's on national TV does not validate it.  And known human toxin's in the right quantity and under rigid controls actually become life saving medicine.  So, your point is what?  If you want to sponser the "old techniques" that may have existed before  curing salt and refrigeration was available, you go first.  I'll stick to what's been tested to death and found to be adequate when used as directed.  Safety is number one in my life, whether it's on the job or in the kitchen.  I can't afford to "EXPERIMENT" or keep an open mind when my family or guests are enjoying my efforts.  TV stars and supposed gurus come and go with the rapid change of what's relevant or trendy nowadays, my family does not.  And that, my fellow smoker, is what's important.
  10. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    How can you keep an "Open mind to a method of curing" when this is not a "Method of Curing"?

    Alton Brown is "Salting", not "Curing". It's that simple.

    From Morton Salt (This same statement is used in nearly all sites having to do with "CURING"):


    The highest quality cured product can not be produced by using salt alone, because salt hardens the meat fibres and tends to make meat salty and dry. That is why in most cases sugar and nitrite are added into curing solution. In case of products smoked at low temperatures it also provides margin of safety preventing possibility of botulism (food poisoning). Curing  is adding salt  and nitrates/nitrites to meat. If you use only salt it is called salting.  If you use salt and water it is called brining.  The moment you add  nitrates and salt to meat it is considered curing.
  11. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    But, if you smoke the salted meat, that does add nitrates doesn't it? Or is important for the salt & nitrates/nitrites to be added together?
  12. shooterrick

    shooterrick Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Interesting discussion going on.  Yes smoking does impart nitrates in very small amounts that are insignificant unless you are smoking for a very long period of time like several days and weeks like our ancestors did.   The smoke houses of old would run for weeks and did actually cure meat.  Of course my grandfather would then have to scrape the outer mold and rott off the meat to get to the inside layers fit to eat.  LOL  I would also be curious as to the food born illnesses that must have been present but not recorded as such in those good ole days.  Lets for the sake of safety use known products with known concentrations for curing coupled with proven technique.  If you are new to curing do not attempt to go outside the box and possibly make you and your family ill.  While the old ways can be learned from they were born out of nessesity.     I for one do not want to go back to leach therapy as a general cure all and my horse drawn buggy would have to have airconditioning.    
  13. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    Im sure that all the farmer john, tyson, and all other processed meat that hasn't killed me yet will offset what I've been curing myself.
  14. princess

    princess Smoking Fanatic

    You made me giggle out loud. Thank you for saying what I was thinking. My horse drawn buggy would also have to have a/c. Old ways are not better, they're just old. :)
  15. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  16. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I have a strong hunch I didn't get my point across very well.

    I didn't mean to imply that just because it's on TV it's valid. What I tried to get across is that using salt is a tried and true method of curing meat and has been for ages, and given the proper precautions it is an acceptable method and not just because Alton Brown said so. In bringing up the fact that it was on TV(on the Food Network), I was saying that given the type of network it is, they would have insured that it was a safe method of making bacon, prior to making and airing that episode, after all, the last thing they want is a bunch of lawsuits because people got sick.(I would hope!)

     Having said that, I need to add that I'm new at this curing meat thing, and I'm trying to find out as much as possible. Thing is, in doing some searching on the internet I'm seeing all sorts of different ways to cure(almost information overload), so when I see answers like "You have to use curing salt" or "You don't have to use curing salt, because that's used in commercial establishments because so many people handle the food..." I get confused.  Especially, since my parents never used curing salts making hams, sausages, bacon etc when I was growing up. They used to get a whole pig in Nov, Dec, and make all this stuff and I grew up eating it without getting ill.

    This is in no way meant to dismiss the need for food safety, and regulations, but I tend to believe that they don't need to be applied in all situations. Let me explain; Typically we tend to go to a supermarket, box store, etc to buy our meat. We have no idea where this meat came from, or how it was raised, slaughtered, packed, shipped, stored, etc...Food regs definitely come into play. However, what if that same piece of meat came from a place where you knew exactly that it was raised in a healthy manner, without antibiotics, hormones etc. It was also slaughtered properly, and stored properly, then you picked it up, got it home and have taken the best possible care prior & during cooking. Perhaps in this case following the food safety regs to the letter may not be necessary for the food to be safe. 


     When I said "curing" I meant it in the dictionary definition of the word.

    This from Webster;   :  to prepare or alter especially by chemical or physical processing for keeping or use <fish cured  with salt>

    From Oxford; preserve (meat, fish, tobacco, or an animal skin) by salting, drying, or smoking:

    On a few other sites, I have learned that the term "curing" literally means preserving food, it is generally accepted that in regular usage it refers to using "nitrates/nitrites"

     I hope this post helps explain where I am coming from.


  17. roller

    roller Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    I think that I am going with Brown on this one. I think that he is the MOST knowledgeable food expert on the tube and would not present anything harmfull to the public.JMO
  18. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I know where you're coming from. You like to argue & debate. Many of us do, but in something this important & this dangerous, picking out a few statements on the web from a few of the thousands out there, because they may support your opinions is not a good thing to do.

    You don't safely "cure" meat in any reasonable length of time (like most people on this forum would be willing to do) with salt alone. Using salt alone is called "Salting", not curing. With salt alone on a belly, it would be salted Pork---wouldn't be pink----wouldn't taste like bacon.

    Alton Brown is a TV celebrity, not an expert compared to those at State universities across the country, and those like Rytek & Kubek (sp), and Morton Salt, etc, etc.

    The problem with you pushing this so hard is you are already beginning to suck others in. This is what I try to keep from happening. I really don't want to go back & forth with you again, but if people start listening to you on this topic, it could be bad. If you don't know anything about "curing", as you state above, ask questions (that's the way we learn), don't make statements that are wrong. If you look hard enough on the web, you could find that 2 + 2 = 5. That doesn't make it right.

    You don't learn to cure meat in a Dictionary:

    You say you have information overload from searching how to cure, yet the only references you tell us about are Webster's Dictionary & Oxford Dictionary.

    Which "actual" smoking sites told you you can cure meat with salt alone ?

    Morton Salt:
    Can I use table salt or canning salt in place of curing salt?

    No, table salt or canning salt cannot be used in place of curing salt. If used, you will get salted meat but the color and flavor of the meat will not be properly developed. 

    Morton Salt Facts:

    Also ---- from Wikipedia-----Alton Crawford Brown  (born July 301962) is an American  cinematographer, author, actor, and television personality.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2010
  19. shooterrick

    shooterrick Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Over the years in this forum this situation has returned time and again. 

    Curing if mismanaged can be deadly!  Curing salts such as Mortons TenderQuick and Pinks curing salts such as Insta Cure are proven and safe if used properly.  They are also inexpensive and since it is excepted that nitrites/nitrates need be present to cure use products with known concentrations of these.  Other methods not using actual cures can be dangerous.  In the hands of a novice commercial cures can be used safely by following instructions to the letter.  Out of the box methods should not be used especially by the novice.  This isn't a slam or even my opinion.  It is a scientific fact based on proven chemistry. 

    I encourage all interested in curing your own product to do so first with safety in mind.   You and your families health is the first priority and curing is not the place to experiment.  Have fun with the endless methods of seasoning but not the cures.  Take care and this is my last statement on this subject since it is among most avid smokers a already settled subject.   
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