Makin’ Bacon

When I first began fermenting foods many years ago, in a place far, far away, it didn’t take me long to start curing my own bacon. Back then I made a sugar-salt rub for curing, but didn’t smoke the meat. Heck, I didn’t even use curing salt, just kosher salt. While that bacon was good, I decided to up my game recently.

Awhile back I got a smoke gun. I don’t have a grill or smoker at the present moment, but I figured if the fancy chefs on the cooking shows I like to watch use smoke guns with successful results, maybe I could too. I got applewood chips to use in it. Applewood or hickory are usually advised for smoking meat. I also invested in some curing salt. It only takes a small amount, mixed with the kosher salt and sugar to do the job.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to start some fresh bacon. When I made my sugar-salt rub this time around I also added fresh ground pepper and juniper berries. It takes 2-3 weeks for bacon to cure, so today I rinsed it off, let it dry for a while at room temperature and experimented with my smoke gun.

I wanted the smoke to be able to reach all around the meat, so I slid my cured bacon and the baking rack it was resting on into one of those large bags you can cook a turkey in.

Then I filled the bag with smoke. To simulate the experience of a smoker, I put the pan with my bacon in the oven at 200* F. After an hour all the smoke had been absorbed by the bacon. I pulled out the pan, loosened up the opening of the bag and filled it with smoke once again, then let it continue to slowly roast in the oven for another hour. Afterwards, I pulled the bacon out of the oven and out of the bag so that it could cool to room temperature, then popped it back in the fridge to cool down further.

During the curing and smoking process the hunk of meat shrunk a little. I started out with 2 lbs. When it was finished smoking, it weighed 1 lb 12 oz. Once the meat was cold I sliced and cooked a little bit to make BLTs. I’m not even kidding when I say that this is some darn good bacon! In fact, it’s better than most of the bacon I’ve ever tried, and I’ve tried plenty! I have a feeling that we’ll go through this pretty quickly. I might have to start another batch pretty soon.