Bacon fan needs basics

Discussion in 'Info and Practices' started by berninga87, Oct 8, 2011.

  1. berninga87

    berninga87 Smoking Fanatic

    So I've been reading a lot about different practices on makin' bacon! Have to admit, I'm a die hard bacon fan, and a cautious cook, (after the servsafe classes I cant help it!). I've been reading about cures and brines and cold smokes and all, but I haven't been able to find everything in one spot, so I have some questions.

    1st concern is safety, regardless of extra flavoring, what do I need to do to ensure the bacon I'm making is safe for me, my family and the friends I will be giving it to? I've heard dry curing is preferred but I'm open to opinions. 

    2nd, I'm pretty sure I want to cold smoke the bacon once cured. I just chose this because I'd rather only really fully cook the meat once in my frying pan than once in the smoker then again in the pan(I'd feel like I'm re-heating?). As far as temp goes for cold smoke, is there an ideal temp? It's going to be cooling down here in WI pretty soon, and the cold thing wont be a problem, but what is an optimum temp if there is one, and how long?...weight of meat unsure as of now, a time per lb or general rule of thumb will be fine!

    3rd, Flavor! I've seen some great looking recipes but again, any opinion or input welcome. 

    Also, just for clarity, I'm using a Brinkmann SnP or ECB. Never tried a cold smoke, although before the mods I thought it would be easier than trying to hold 225 in this beast! I think with the area I have in the cooking chamber I should have plenty of room for the meat and smoke generator, unless it would still be a good idea to keep the smoke generator in the firebox(again, opinions/input please!)

    As far as the meat goes, when I go to the butcher I'm planning on asking for pork belly(and hopefully not getting the same looks I got when asking the guy at the hardware store for expanded metal for a charcoal basket..haha), is there anything I should look for in the cut? 

    I've been tossing around the idea of ordering the AMNS, heard a lot of good reviews on it, otherwise going with the soldering iron & tin can method.

    Finally, I'm not one to assume anything when learning something new, so dumb it up for me as much as you can! and I'll make from it what I want in the future. Sorry for so many questions at once( I have about 1M more!), but this seems like a great place to learn, and I want to know as much as I can, one meat at a time! 

    Promise to post Qview when bacon is complete!
  2. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  3. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Hope this helps

  4. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Bacon is one of those foods, that once you make some, you'll be hooked!!!

    Craig and Al both gave some good info and methods to cure bacon

    I suggest you find a very simple recipe and make a slab of bacon.  I've tried brine curing and dry curing, but prefer dry curing.  It really comes down to personal preference.

    Once you get comfortable with the process, you can make some changes to customize your bacon experience.

    Whether you brine cure or dry cure, follow the curing instructions very carefully.

    Keep a log of what you did, and how you did it.  Days curing, time smoking, wood used for smoking and temp in the smoker will all affect your final product. 

    I dry cure for 7-10 days and cold smoke with apple wood for 12 hours.

    Try the soldering iron method to generate some smoke, before you invest in more equipment.  It's simple and effective.

    Get started and post some pics!

  5. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Since it's your first time I would follow Craig's method. It is just too easy to mess up.
  6. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Craig, Al, Todd and Al have all make some great bacon... Pops too... When you have an urge to try "Old World Recipes", AK1 has a Croatian method that sounds pretty darn good..  I have been trying to get bacon perfected for about 6 months... close but no cigar... There is an art involved that I may never achieve   [​IMG]     but the taste tests make it worthwhile..  

    AK1 and his recipe for Croatian style bacon (Old World Stuff)
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2011
  7. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    If you want any other alternatives from the great ones above, there are two "Step by Steps" below in my signature.

    The one I used a little bit of heat with is the best of the two (IMO).

  8. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    The BACON GODS have spoken!...Best of Luck and Welcome to the Q Crew...JJ
  9. berninga87

    berninga87 Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks for the replies everyone! Hopefully I'll get started sometime this week. I bought a soldering iron today and have been doing some trial runs. The tin can trick works pretty well, so far I've managed to get about 2 hours of smoke per can of chips and the temp hardly climbed at all. The only thing now is that the smoke is fairly thick and white, not thin and blue like I'd hoped. My setup is just an average size tin can with a hole about 3/4" from the bottom, run the iron through the hole, fill it with chips and set the lid of the can cut off by the opener on top of the chips to keep the chips from flaring up. Any suggestions?
  10. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Suggestions???  Alrighty:

    Look into getting an "A-MAZE-N-PELLET-SMOKER".

    That will make your smoking so much easier.  You really won't believe it, until you experience it for yourself.


    Best to you,

  11. jrod62

    jrod62 Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Bacon is next on my list.
  12. berninga87

    berninga87 Smoking Fanatic

    haha, I knew that was coming! I've looked at their site a few times using Todd's link, and it truly does sound like a great product after all the great reviews it receives here. I'm just being me trying to save a buck. I'll probably have one ordered in the next week or two. Thanks Bear!
  13. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    It must seem like some of us "hound" people about those little miracles, but it feels good to read how much everybody loves them, once they start using them.

  14. I suggest that you forget the soldering iron thing and get the A-Maze-N-Pellet smoker that has already been suggested.

    I got mine about a month ago and would not trade it for a truck load of cans and soldering irons.

    Fill it with pellets, light it, put it in your smoker and forget it.

    I use mine in an upright Brinkman smoker I bought at Home DePot, I don't light the burner, I just get my pellet smoker going, set it in and on a 60 degree day, the pellets bring the chamber temp up to approx 113 degrees, IMO a perfect temp for cold smoking Bacon.

  15. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hey Rich,

    We older guys like them even more than the young guys, because of the "light it & forget about it".

    We're so good at the "Forgetting about it" part.  [​IMG]

  16. teeznuts

    teeznuts Master of the Pit

    I agree with the AMNPS. I use mine for bacon(belly and buck board), cheese and nuts. If you're going to do soldering iron I'd suggest having a back up or two. I tried it before getting my AMNPS and my brand new soldering iron was dead in less than an hour. They are unpredictable when running em constant for long periods of time.
  17. dpeart

    dpeart Smoke Blower

    The only change I would make to my AMSPS is to make it 4 or 5 rows wide instead of just 3.  I could do a multi-day cold smoke.  Maybe I could buy two and put them back to back and get 22 hours out of them [​IMG]
  18. berninga87

    berninga87 Smoking Fanatic

    Looks like it's gonna be an AMNPS. Is that preferred over the AMNS? The only differences I see are the smoke time and that the AMNPS can run on sawdust or pellets. However, 11 hours of worry free/babysitting free smoke sounds very nice. I did some test runs on the soldering iron and it ran for a good 6 hours no problem, just had to refill the can every couple hours, but I can always use a backup for my car wiring jobs. When I do get the AMNPS I know it comes with pellets, 2lbs I think, and when that runs out I'll probably buy more, but in case I get the itch to smoke something during that in between/ran out of pellets time, can I use sawdust I have at home? I have a woodshop and home and the means(saws) to make different types and thicknesses of sawdust and collect it. If I have some scrap laying around(raw scrap, no stain/varnish/glue/chemicals) can I just hack that up and use it in the AMNPS? Either way, I can't wait to make some bacon. When that time rolls around I'll be posting pics and asking a lot more questions. I plan on using a brine cure the first time around, and would like to make something like the "Diablo Powder" that JIRodriguez posted about and sprinkle some in the brine. I'm a spicy food nut, and the thought of some spicy, smokey, peppery B piled on some LT is making my mouth water!
  19. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    The AMNPS is preferred over the AMNS mainly because you can use pellets in it all the way up to at least 275˚ in the smoker, and the AMNS can run into problems above 180˚/200˚.  

    If you have good smoking wood around home, yes you can make dust for your AMNS, but try to use the chop saw (Miter saw), Radial Saw, or the table saw (with miter gage), because dust from crosscutting works better than from ripping, jointing, planing, shaping, or sanding.

    Also---Be careful !

    Hope that helps,

  20. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    You just can't buy good bacon once you have made it yourself. Then you can changer the flavors also.

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