How to cure and smoke your own bacon

Written by | Food

OK, so you’ve shaved your head, grown a goatee, and you just bench-pressed a couple hundred pounds while listening to AC/DC, but you still feel like you need a little something else to feel like a man. What you need is to cure and smoke your own bacon. That is exactly what I’m going to tell you how to do.

First, go kill a pig—with your bare hands if possible—and rip out the pork belly. It is called pork belly and not pig belly because when a pig dies it’s called pork. If you can’t kill a pig yourself, go to the butcher and ask for some pork belly. If you can’t do that, just go buy some bacon at a store.

Next, you will need a knife to cut the pork belly into strips 20-30 inches long and about 8 inches across. With the pink and white stripes on the side, the pig will begin to look like the kind of bacon unmanly people buy in the store.

Now you need to cure the bacon, because that is what we set out to do. First step: rub the hog down with 4 cups kosher salt. That’s right, kosher salt on pork. Go figure. Also, for extra flavoring, add any of the following: 2 cups brown sugar, then black pepper, garlic, ground bay leaves, paprika and cinnamon. Cover the pork belly with your spices and seal it in a zip lock bag, and leave it in the fridge for 7 days and 7 nights. Check on it periodically, just in case.

A week later, pull it out, rinse it off, pat it dry, and spank it. You’ll notice it looks like cured meat because that’s what it is. The last step to cure the bacon is to uncover it and leave it in the fridge so it can develop an outer layer of proteins, which in bacon jargon is called a pellicle. The pellicle is important for flavor, as we will now see.

On to smoking the hog. You will need a barbecue. Fill your barbecue with enough charcoal to reach 200 degrees Fahrenheit (typically about half as much charcoal as needed to cook the bacon). Put some pieces of hickory or maple for extra flavor, and light. Place the pork belly on the barbecue rack, rind side up. The pellicle serves to absorb the flavor of the tasty hickory and maple smoke. Light charcoal and leave the bacon in the barbecue for about two hours, with the lid closed, and add the briquettes and wood chunks as necessary to keep that pig smoking.

After about 2 hours, remove the bacon and bring it home. Cut the skin away while it’s still warm and leave as much fat underneath as possible. If you have followed these instructions precisely, you should be standing before a chunk of swine that you cured and smoked—and maybe even killed—all by yourself. Goes great with eggs for breakfast and on hamburgers for lunch or dinner.

Last modified: March 17, 2017