Buckboard and Belly Bacon

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nlife

Meat Mopper
Original poster
Nov 16, 2023
238
441
After seeing some of the posts for Buckboard Bacon, I figured that I would try my hand at it. I figured that it would be ok to run the Traeger during the rather mild (for us) el nino temperatures. I started the buckboard bacon (on the right) on December 26. Then when I was at Costco I picked up a slab of belly and got it into the cure on Monday Jan 1.

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I've been flipping and rubbing these every day. The belly is ~2" to 2 1/4" thick. The BB is ~2.5 to 2 3/4" thick. For the cure I used:

Belly Started Jan 1/24 (on it's 8th day in the fridge at the time of writing this post):
  • 1.5% salt
  • .25% Cure #1
  • .75% brown sugar
Buckboard Bacon Started Dec 26/23 (on it's 13th day in the fridge at the time or writing this post):
  • 2.5%
  • .25%
  • 2% brown sugar
I've read a lot of varying opinions on how long to leave it cure in the fridge and was looking to pull the buckboard after sitting for 14 days, let dry in the fridge and hot smoke it at 160-180f (lowest my Traeger will go). I was going to follow up with the belly a few days later after it sat for 14 days.

Unfortunately the weather seems to be shifting into winter mode over the next few days. So rather than the mild 3c to -5c days and nights we've been having, we're going to drop down to -10c to -28c. I'm not terribly sure how long it'll last as weather forecasts beyond three days are sketchy at best.

I guess my question to the board is, should I pull these now, pat dry, put on racks with a fan on them for a few hours and smoke today, or chance it and see how the weather goes over the next few days? I'm really not sure how long you can leave a piece sitting in cure before it needs to be dealt with.
 
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You can go 21 days fairly easy and depending on how cold the fridge temp is (needs to be in the 30’s F) you can push towards 30 days. Around 25 days is about as far as I would push time with 1.5% salt (I use the same percentage)
 
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Thanks. Since I started curing, I put a thermometer in the fridge. It's currently sitting at 8c (46f).

I'm leaning towards pulling and running them today. Mostly because of the cold. Tomorrow isn't looking too bad temp wise, but they're predicting 30km wind gusts.
 
Thanks. Since I started curing, I put a thermometer in the fridge. It's currently sitting at 8c (46f).

I'm leaning towards pulling and running them today. Mostly because of the cold. Tomorrow isn't looking too bad temp wise, but they're predicting 30km wind gusts.
In that case I tend to agree with smoking them today.
 
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Ok. I took them out of the bags, gave them a quick rinse under cold water and patted them dry. I put a fan on them for an hour, flipped them, patted the other side dry and left the fan on them for another half hour or so. They're good and tacky now, so I fired up the smoker and set it to the smoke setting. It's currently holding 155f and the bacon is on with my smoker running TBS.

I put a small amount of fresh cracked pepper on one end of the belly to see how it'll be.

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This is going to be fantastic. You get a little bit different (most say better, I agree) flavor with a longer bacon cure but I've done a couple of shorter cures and was just as pleased as punch with them.
 
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I had to open the smoker to get the probes in and they're looking pretty good so far. The belly is running 118f and the BBB is running 107f after 2 hours of smoke. The smoker has been running a tad cooler holding between 145-155f for two hours now. I just bumped it to 180f which means it'll likely run around 165f-175f to help finish the cook.

I've seen most people cooking these until 145-155f, but I've also seen recommendations to cook until 135f since you'll be frying it anyways. Am I still on track to pull at 135f since I'm planning on frying these rather than eating as sandwich meat?

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Thanks SE! I just checked the belly and it jumped to 133f in the thick part. That didn't take long at all. The BB still has a ways to go yet. Smoker is hopping along at 175 like I figured it would. It's about 5f below the setting due to the -2c (28f) weather.

Pulled the belly since it hit 135f. The BB was at 121f though it's climbing fast. The belly is in the fridge cooling now. Man it sure smells awesome!

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Without a smoke tube in there helping out your smoke profile will be low, which is ok but smoke flavor is a big part of bacon, at least to me.
 
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The belly ended up being in there for just about 3 hours. The cooler temps here had my Traeger dropping pellets in the hopper on a regular basis. Lots of smoke billowing out.

How long do you tend to smoke for SmokinEdge SmokinEdge ?
 
In my smokehouse I like my bacon to finish about 5 hours, but this is largely because my ambient humidity is usually in the teens and the good draft dries the surface if I’m not careful, water pans make little difference. My big hams I like to go closer to 10 hours but because of the low humidity I sometimes don’t make it. Smoked sausage are all 4-5 hours as well.
 
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I'm pretty happy with how these look. The BBB hit 135f so I pulled it and it's now in the fridge with the belly. Y'all are going to have to wait until tomorrow to see how it looks when I cut into it.

I pulled the belly after 3 hours or so when it hit 135f. The BBB went 3 hours 40 minutes before hitting 135f. I could have left them on the smoke setting longer, but it was getting dark and I didn't really want to be running this all night. Glad I got this done today since the forecast is calling for bitter winter cold for the next week or so. The inspiration for the BBB was from seeing DRKsmoking DRKsmoking post about it.

Heads up David, you'll likely get a scolding phone call from my Dr. about my blood pressure and the bacon...

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If I could make a suggestion it would be to either wrap your bacons in plastic wrap (tightly) or even into a vacuum bag if you have a vac sealer and let it 'rest' for an extra day or 2. It really helps the bacon retain a smokier profile. Not saying you can't sample tomorrow ;) but the added rest will be worth it.
 
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If I could make a suggestion it would be to either wrap your bacons in plastic wrap (tightly) or even into a vacuum bag if you have a vac sealer and let it 'rest' for an extra day or 2. It really helps the bacon retain a smokier profile. Not saying you can't sample tomorrow ;) but the added rest will be worth it.

I was actually wondering if I should be storing these in any particular way. The reveal may have to be postponed a bit...
 
All looks good and good luck.
I tried BBB once and wasn't impressed with my results.
My last belly (streaky) bacon was cold smoked for around 10 hours over a 3 day period.
You could do the same in the Treager with no power and a smoke tube.

135°F sustained for over an hour will pasteurize the meat to safe eating levels. I do this with loin bacon.

Thanks. Since I started curing, I put a thermometer in the fridge. It's currently sitting at 8c (46f).
...
Isn't that higher than the 39°F recommended maximum for curing meat?
I thought curing should be held between 35° and 40°
 
Isn't that higher than the 39°F recommended maximum for curing meat?
I thought curing should be held between 35° and 40°

Yes it is higher than the recommended temperature for curing meat which is 36f to 40f. I looked it up in the Marianski book and it appears as though higher than normal temperatures speed up the curing process, but increase the chance of spoilage. Higher temperatures will also decrease the overall shelf life.

"Salt and nitrite will stop CI. botulinum spores from developing into toxins, even at those [46-50f (8-10c)] higher curing temperatures. Due to increased bacterial growth at those higher curing temperatures the shelf life of a product would be decreased..." p36

I'm not overly concerned about spoilage since this has been salted, cured, smoked and will be cut and vac packed into manageable portions before being put into the freezer tomorrow.
 
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