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Old 01-10-2009, 03:45 PM   #1
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Ok, after making breakfast today I have come to the conclusion that I am tired of over priced tasteless grocery store bacon. I have tried all the bacons available around me and I am extremely unimpressed. I have decided I am going to make my own. Soooooooooo what does everyone know about cold smoking and bacon making? I dont have a smoker yet but I am going to be making the alton brown ceramic smoker and i am pretty sure I should be able to make this into a cold smoker. Now I just need tips/suggestions/ideas.s


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Old 01-10-2009, 05:44 PM   #2
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Ok, after making breakfast today I have come to the conclusion that I am tired of over priced tasteless grocery store bacon. I have tried all the bacons available around me and I am extremely unimpressed. I have decided I am going to make my own. Soooooooooo what does everyone know about cold smoking and bacon making? I dont have a smoker yet but I am going to be making the alton brown ceramic smoker and i am pretty sure I should be able to make this into a cold smoker. Now I just need tips/suggestions/ideas.s
I make my own bacon fairly regularly. It is spectacular and spectacularly easy. First, though, get a copy of Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn's Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. It is the bible. You will find yourself not only making bacon but breakfast sausage, salamis, cured hams and the incredible chicken-tomato-basil sausage.

You can get away with curing with just salt if you are a no-nitrate or nitrite kinda guy (and you don't smoke the bacon), but I'm more comfortable with the added safety of including pink salt in the cure. Pink salt, aka Prague Powder or Cure #1, is salt with 6.25% sodium nitrite. It not only acts as a preservative but it also keeps the meat safe from bacterial growth (particularly botulinum) during the cold smoking process. If you use pink salt you can also get away with using much less salt overall, so you don't have to blanch or soak the bacon before use.

I cold smoke my bacon in a Weber Smokey Mountain and fill the water bath with ice, which cools the smoke on the way up to the grill racks. It's not ideal, but it works quite well, giving me a three hour smoking time before the meat reaches an internal temperature of 150. I smoke with apple wood, a much milder smoke flavor than hickory.

The cure is 2oz kosher salt, 2tsp pink salt and 1Tbsp cracked black peppercorns. You can add 1/2 cup of maple syrup if you like that kind of bacon. Dextrose also works well. It is less sweet and is easier to use in the cure. Rub the belly liberally with the cure and place in a large Ziplock bag. I can find the 2 gallon size fairly easily. Refrigerate for 7-10 days, flipping the bag to redistribute the cure every other day.

After 7 days check for firmness. It should feel firm at the thickest point. If it is still squishy, return to the fridge for another couple of days. The thicker the belly, the longer it will take to cure.

Chad


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Old 01-10-2009, 05:55 PM   #3
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I'm not saying that you shouldn't make your own bacon, it actually sounds easy and a lot of fun, but have you tried a butcher? My in-laws raise a couple of pigs each year and we always get a half, the butcher we use makes awesome bacon. I made breakfast for my office a couple of weeks ago and everyone was raving about the bacon and wanted to know where I bought it from. I got to think that any decent butcher would have good bacon the stuff in the supermarket sucks, always too thin, flavorless, and has a very high fat to meat ratio.
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Old 01-10-2009, 05:57 PM   #4
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Ok, I will defiantly look into that book. I have been wanting to get into smoking and sausage making for a while now.

Tell me if you think this is going to even work or not. I am going to take a pretty big ceramic pot put a hot plate and wood chips in there to make the smoke. Then have some duct work to take that smoke to another container that will have the pork belly. If need be I could run that duct through some ice to cool it off even more in the summer.

Also, what is too cold for cold smoking. From what I have read it just says under 70 or 80 degrees but since this time of year it is usually 25-40 outside I dont know if that will be too cold.
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Old 01-10-2009, 05:59 PM   #5
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I'm not saying that you shouldn't make your own bacon, it actually sounds easy and a lot of fun, but have you tried a butcher? My in-laws raise a couple of pigs each year and we always get a half, the butcher we use makes awesome bacon. I made breakfast for my office a couple of weeks ago and everyone was raving about the bacon and wanted to know where I bought it from. I got to think that any decent butcher would have good bacon the stuff in the supermarket sucks, always too thin, flavorless, and has a very high fat to meat ratio.
There are 3 butchers around here and two of them dont make their own and I dont know about the other but I refuse to go back there because ive had a problem. I know there are some places online that have really good bacon but im not paying 15+ dollars a pound for it.
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Old 01-11-2009, 02:01 AM   #6
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...get a copy of Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn's Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. It is the bible.
+1 to that. I got that book for Christmas this year, and it truly is the dog's bollocks.
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Old 01-11-2009, 04:10 AM   #7
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Chad: Thanks for the links & the heads-up on this book, I've got one ordered now! Regards, GF.
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Old 01-11-2009, 05:20 AM   #8
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check out Alton Brown's recipe on food network...

I haven't tried it, but I love everything else he makes!
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Old 01-11-2009, 02:47 PM   #9
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Tell me if you think this is going to even work or not. I am going to take a pretty big ceramic pot put a hot plate and wood chips in there to make the smoke. Then have some duct work to take that smoke to another container that will have the pork belly. If need be I could run that duct through some ice to cool it off even more in the summer.
That should work quite nicely. I'm familiar with Alton's setup, and the only problem I can see is ensuring that it is capable of holding up a side of bacon. Make sure the cardboard box can hold five to seven pounds of pork belly. The cold smoker was originally featured in the salmon show, if I recall. A 5lb slab o' pork belly weighs a lot more than a couple of slim salmon fillets. But if you've got the structural integrity to hold a belly or two, go for it. That is real cold smoking, as opposed to what I do, which is more properly termed smoke roasting. My smoking routine on the Weber Smokey Mountain lasts about three hours. I pull the bacon when it reaches an internal temp. of 150. True cold smoking can last much longer and the bacon won't heat up, making the use of pink salt all the more critical. You are holding it in the danger zone (40 - 140) in an anaerobic environment -- perfect growth conditions for Clostridium botulinum.

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Old 01-11-2009, 03:02 PM   #10
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Yea, I am going to be using the pink salt. Any idea how much pork belly should cost me?


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