Bacon. It’s the unofficial food of the internet and just about everyone loves it. But have you ever made your own? It’s much easier for the urban cook than you may think!
Officially cured bacon is often done with a smoker. Smokers are wonderful things that produce amazingly delicious meats, but they’re also not very practical for those of us in an apartment or suburb. Smokers can be created on a very small scale through wizardry with tin foil and wood chips, but fortunately for us there’s a way to turn slices of pork into the best bacon you’ve ever had in your life without also making all of your clothes smell like you live in a campfire.
There are two possibly unusual ingredients to curing your own bacon at home. The first is (of course!) slices of pork belly. You can probably buy a whole belly at your local butcher’s shop and just cure it that way. Personally, I stop by the local Korean grocer and get pre-sliced belly, intended for grilling. These slices are a fair bit thicker than your normal piece of bacon which means they don’t crisp up quite the same way, but I love the meaty bites.
The other unusual ingredient you’ll need is curing salt, also known as Curing Salt #1 or Prague Powder #1. Getting this exact powder is very important because unlike standard salt it contains sodium nitrate. This makes your meat safe to store after a very short amount of time.
Another benefit to curing your own bacon is that you can create your own flavors. I’ve read about people using juniper berries and vodka in their cure, or brown sugar, or hot chilis. I’m going to include my personal favorite in the recipe below: sugar and Sriracha bacon. The sweet offsets the salty nicely, and there’s just enough heat to creep up on you. But that’s just me — make sure you include enough Curing Salt #1 and regular salt, and flavor as you like!
Okay, let’s get to the details:
Sugar and Sriracha Home-Cured Bacon
1-2 pounds of pork belly, whole or sliced
1/4 cup of coarse salt
1 teaspoon of Curing Salt #1
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup Sriracha
a splash of smoke flavor
a few twists of coarse ground black pepper
Mix everything except the pork belly together in a bowl. Use your hands to coat the pork belly — if you’re using slices then make sure each side of each slice gets a rub down, but don’t worry about it too much.
Put the seasoned pork belly in a big ziplock bag. Put that bag in a dish (just in case of leaks!) in the fridge. Leave it there for seven days. You can turn the bag over every few days, and go ahead and give everything a stir once in the middle.
After the seven days has passed, remove the pork belly (proto-bacon!) from the bag. Rinse the seasoning off and pat it dry. Put the pork on a tray in the oven, and turn it on to 200°F. Take it out again after 90 minutes.
Let the bacon cool. Prepare a few pieces however you like to eat it. You now have the power of bacon creation! Use it wisely.