Just the word bacon gets most mouths drooling. But you haven’t really tasted bacon until you cure and smoke it at home. We use amazigribs.com recipe for curing and smoking maple bacon here to show you just how easy it is! Trust us, once you try this at home store bought bacon will never taste the same.
Start with a ~ 3 lb pork belly, skin removed. Trim length and width, as necessary, to fit inside a gallon-sized zipper (Ziploc®) bag. The belly should be 1 1/2″ thick or thinner. Thicker bellies will work too but curing time in the fridge will need to be increased.
For a complete explanation about the science behind curing meats, we highly recommend this AmazingRibs.com article.
Brine: Prepare the brine in a bowl or directly in the bag.
4 ½ tsp kosher salt
4 ½ tsp ground black pepper
3 Tbsp dark brown sugar
½ cup Canadian Maple Syrup*
¾ cup distilled water
½ tsp Prague Powder #1 (readily available on-line, if you have trouble finding it locally)
(*Don’t want/like maple flavor? Replace the maple syrup with an additional 3 Tablespoons of dark brown sugar and follow the rest of the recipe as written.)
Once the curing liquid is prepared, add it and the belly to the bag. Remove as much air as possible from the bag and seal tightly. Place the belly in the fridge (we place it in a pan to safeguard against leaks) for 4-5 days, flipping the belly once per day to evenly distribute juices and brining liquid.
After a few days and a few flips, remove the belly from the bag and wash under cold water to remove any large deposits of salt. Your belly is now ready to smoke!
We are going to cook low ‘n slow at 225° F in order to both cook the belly and achieve a great smoky flavor. (Click here for low & slow/225° F lighting instructions for the Slow ‘N Sear.) You’ll want to use water in the reservoir to promote smoke adhesion. If you choose to add wood, we like maple, apple, or hickory for this recipe. A small chunk or two will be plenty.
Once the grill is up to temperature (225° – 250° F) and there is clean smoke coming from the grill (pale white or blue), place the belly on the indirect side to begin cooking. We highly recommend using a dual probe thermometer (one probe for the pit, one for the meat) to monitor temperatures during the cook.
Cook until the internal temperature in the deepest part of the belly reaches 150° F, about 2 hours or so. At this point, your belly is now bacon! To make slicing easier, chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before making the first cut.
Slice as desired and cook up some of the best bacon you’ve ever had!