Last Updated on August 23, 2022
Photo by Marco Verch
Bacon is a nutritious food packed full of protein and healthy vitamins. You can use it in various recipes, from salads and sandwiches to pasta dishes and quiches. It’s delicious, with its crispy texture, smoky flavor, and sweet, fatty aftertaste.
The fantastic news for bacon lovers everywhere is that it’s easy to make these rashers from the comfort of your own kitchen. All you need is a cut of pork belly, some basic seasoning ingredients, a sealable plastic bag, and an oven.
Once you’ve got all these items, you can fry up the most exquisite bacon you’ve ever tasted!
How Do You Make Bacon From Pork Belly?
You might think that this all sounds too good to be true, but here’s a step-by-step guide for how to make bacon from pork belly.
Cure and season the bacon
Before curing the pork belly, check to see if there’s any excess flare fat around the outside of the cut. If there’s an irregular or patchy spread of flare fat, remove it. This fat can negatively affect the curing process and is far more useful as lard.
Mix your curing ingredients in a bowl. This mixture should be a combination of sugar and salt. You can also add seasonings to give your bacon a distinctive flavor, from nutmeg and fennel to coriander seeds and bourbon.
Rub a handful of this curing mixture onto the pork belly cut, kneading it into every part of the meat. Once you’re finished, place the seasoned pork in a plastic bag and seal it to create an airtight environment. Put the bag in the fridge and cover your cure bowl with plastic wrap to keep it dry.
After 24 hours, take the bag out. There should be a bit of pickled moisture in the packet’s bottom, so drain this liquid into the sink. Rub another handful of your cure mixture onto your pork, then seal the bag up and place it back in the fridge.
Take the pork out of the fridge and apply a fresh dose of cure every 24 hours for 5-7 days. After a week, you can move on to the next step.
Smoke or cook the bacon
When considering how to make bacon from a pork belly, it’s up to you whether you want to smoke or cook your meat. Some people prefer using pellet smoker for the intense woody taste of smoked meat, while others might not have access to a propane, offset, or charcoal smoker and must use the cooking method.
If you’re smoking your bacon, wash the cured meat. Place it on a metal grid or rack and allow it to air dry for two hours. This process encourages a protein coating called the pellicle to form on the meat’s surface. The pellicle is gummy and sticky, meaning more smoke particles stick to the pork during the next part of the process.
Put your bacon in the smoker at a temperature of between 200°F and 225°F. You want the meat to reach an internal temperature of around 150°F, which should take 1-2 hours. For more flavorful bacon, use a wood-burning smoker rather than an electric or gas option.
Those who are cooking the meat preheat the oven to 200°F and roast the bacon until it reaches an optimal internal temperature of between 150°F and 160°F. This will take a little longer than the smoking method, so expect to wait for 2-3 hours before you can move on to the next step.
Once your meat is ready, remove it from the smoker or oven and leave it to rest on a cutting board for 5-10 minutes.
Fry the bacon
Use a knife and carving fork to cut the cooked or smoked pork into slices. You can then add some vegetable oil or butter to a skillet and fry the bacon over medium heat until it’s ready to eat. If you’d rather not use oil, just place the bacon slices into the pan and set your burner to low heat. The bacon produces its own fat as it cooks.
Save the grease
Take the fried bacon out of the skillet and transfer it to a plate. Let the meat’s excess grease and juices sit in the pan for a while. After an hour, this grease will solidify, becoming fat. You can store this fat in the fridge and repurpose the bacon grease as a delicious alternative to olive oil in a variety of recipes.
Bacon grease is excellent for homemade popcorn, roasting vegetables, a gravy base, or gingerbread. You can even make baconnaise by substituting bacon grease for oil and use the spread on your favorite sandwiches. Replace butter with bacon grease in a pie crust, or melt it with sugar, mustard, and red wine vinegar to create a bacon salad dressing.
You can also add some of this bacon fat to vodka, rum, whiskey, or bourbon, then leave the mixture to sit at room temperature for two hours. Put the liquid in the fridge until the fat solidifies and forms a thick layer on the surface of the spirit. Scrape this coating off, and you’re left with a delicious, fat-infused drink.
Taking the time to make homemade bacon from a pork belly cut results in an intensely flavorful bacon rasher. If you follow this step-by-step guide closely, you’ll find the entire process is simple and incredibly satisfying.