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Cold-Smoked Maple Bacon (plenty of pics)

couger78

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A few weeks ago I came across several packs of pork belly in Costco. They pork had been skinned and cut into sections 3-4" inches thick. The price was VERY reasonable so I grabbed a few (around 5-7 lbs total ) to make some bacon.
With these many sections, I knew using my bacon hangers in the smoker would pose a problem. Instead I opted to cold-smoke the pork flat, using the non-stick Q-Matz grill mats I picked up from A-Maze-n.
Standard dry CURE rub (kosher salt, sugar, pink cure) went on all the pieces for approximately 10 days. I then applied maple sugar to some, to others a dose of fenugreek—I wanted to see how 'maple-y' those with fenugreek compared to those without. (pictured below). These went back into the fridge for a few more days
Bacon_Curing.jpg

I then took the belly sections out and gave them a thorough rinse and drying.
Back into the fridge they go to form a pellicle...
Bacon_pellicle_fridge.jpg


Two days later, pellicle formed and firmly-cured....
Bacon_pellicle_formed.jpg


Application of real maple syrup and a sprinkle of maple sugar....
Bacon_psyrup_maple_sugar.jpg


Sunday was a cool, overcast day—perfect for cold-smoking.
9:00am - Into the smoker went the racks & matz with the sticky pork.
I used a pan of ice JUST to keep the temps on the cooler side (in hindsight this probably wasn't necessary, but I wasn't certain how hot the box would get when the afternoon sun hit.). I loaded both a tube and maze full of 80% applewood pellets and 20% hickory. Slow, steady smoke....

Bacon_start_smoke.jpg


3:00pm - Six hours in...sun peeking through but temps are mild. Refilled the ice pan. Good color forming...
Bacon_six_hours_in_smoke.jpg


Nearly 11 hours into the smoke (almost 8:00pm), swapped out the finished pellet tube and replaced it with another maze for the home-stretch....
Bacon_Nearly12_hours_in_smoke.jpg


12:00 midnight - 15 hours and time to pull the pig.
I have to say, using these racks is a far easier job than maneuvering one or two loaded bacon hangers. Color is uniform top to bottom.
Bacon_15_hours_pulled.jpg

Bacon_15_hours_detail.jpg

Bacon_15_hours_detail_02.jpg


Now the HARD part: these will now sit back in the fridge for the next day or so to mellow. THEN we'll fry some up!
Bacon_fridge_to_mellow.jpg


Slicing and frying still to come!...

- Kevin
 

Braz

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Looks great. 15 hours, a tube and two trays! That's a lot of smoke. Let us know how it tastes.
 

couger78

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Sample time after a day+ of bacon mellowing in the fridge.
I sliced two sections into relatively thin/thick slices.
Bacon_thick_slices.jpg

Bacon_thick_slices_2.jpg


Pan-fry— not TOO hot as the sugar content will cause the strips to burn to quickly.
Tasty! Sweet, smokey and good balance of saltiness with the maple sweetness.
Got a thumbs-up from the tasting crew!
Bacon_pan_fry.jpg
 

pc farmer

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Great looking bacon . Nice job.
 

pushok2018

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Looks great! How those with a dose of fenugreek taste? I use fenugreek only to make Basturma, Armenian charcuterie (dried beef).
 

couger78

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Looks great! How those with a dose of fenugreek taste? I use fenugreek only to make Basturma, Armenian charcuterie (dried beef).
To be honest, I get a lot of 'maple' sweetness—but I'd find it hard to differentiate between what is the fenugreek I'm tasting versus the real maple syrup and sugar.
Would I add it again? Possibly... as it would allow me to cut back on the sugars & minimize the burning when frying without losing the flavor.
 

phatbac

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That bacon looks seriously awesome! I need to try cold smoking bacon....

Happy Smoking,
phatbac (Aaron)
 

couger78

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That bacon looks seriously awesome! I need to try cold smoking bacon....

Happy Smoking,
phatbac (Aaron)
With the right weather conditions, cold-smoking is relatively easy! I find it considerably easier to monitor cold temps than keeping hotter temps (between 160-200°F-rang for sausages) steady...
 

couger78

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Everything is sliced and packed up in FoodSaver packets.
Two bags are full of 'end pieces'—those super-smokey trimmed ends that are great additions to beans, soups and this: homemade sauerkraut cooked with apples onions and smokey bacon hunks!
Smokey sweet and tangy! Beans are next....
kraut_skillet.jpg

kraut_bowl.jpg
 

Steve H

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Well, you owe me a new keyboard. It just shorted out from the drool! Very nice looking bacon. With how they are already sliced. They just SCREAM to be turned into burnt ends.
 

couger78

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Joined May 3, 2011
Well, you owe me a new keyboard. It just shorted out from the drool! Very nice looking bacon. With how they are already sliced. They just SCREAM to be turned into burnt ends.
Well with the way these belly pieces were already precut, I’ve over 10x the surface area exposed to smoke compared to a whole belly slab. This means some end pieces are very well smoked and ideal for use as flavoring chunks.
 

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