Which part of the pig does bacon come from? Technically, bacon can come from any part with a high fat content (the pig's belly, back or sides), but Americans are most familiar with “streaky” bacon cut from pork belly.
What we call bacon is typically salt-cured and smoked (although uncured bacon is available, too). Making your own homemade bacon is great because you can experiment with different recipes and smoking methods until you discover the ones you love most!
I like the slight sweetness of this homemade bacon recipe, and I think it is the perfect breakfast bacon. Of course, it also works great on a bacon cheeseburger, in baked beans, or anywhere else that you want to use bacon!
This recipe is based on a 5-pound slab of pork belly. Pork bellies come in all sizes (you may need to work with whatever your favorite meat market has to offer), so just scale up or down the quantities of ingredients for the size of the pork belly. If the pork belly slab is more than 5 pounds, I suggest cutting it in half so that it will easily fit into bags.
1. If pork belly is more than 5 pounds, cut in half.
2. Mix together pink salt, brown sugar, kosher salt in a small bowl.
3. Place each pork belly piece into a two-gallon Ziploc bag.
4. Rub half of the pink salt, brown sugar, kosher salt on one side of the pork belly pieces.
5. Pour half of the maple syrup on the same side of the pork belly.
6. Flip the pork belly pieces to the other side.
7. Rub the remaining pink salt, brown sugar, and kosher salt on second side of the pork belly.
8. Pour the remainder of the maple syrup on the same side of the pork belly.
9. Seal the Ziploc bag(s). Stick duct tape along the seam to make sure it is sealed. The brown sugar will soon dissolve from the moisture of the meat, and you do not want this raw pork/sugar liquid to leak in your refrigerator!
10. Seal the pork belly and Ziploc bag into a second bag, and seal that bag with duct tape, as well. You won’t be sorry for this extra precaution against leakage.
11. Place your pork belly in the refrigerator to cure for seven days.
12-18. Flip the pork belly bags daily, massaging the fluids into the meat a little bit each time.
19. After seven days, discard the bags and rinse the pork belly with cold water in a large sink.
20. Pat the slabs dry with paper towels.
21. Place the slabs on cookie sheets and return them, uncovered, to the refrigerator overnight to dry out.
22. Preheat your smoker or grill to 225 degrees.
23. Place the slabs of pork belly in the smoker with fat side up, and smoke until internal temperature is 150 degrees Fahrenheit. The time needed to reach the internal temperature of 150 degrees will vary, but it usually requires between 3-5 hours.
24. Allow the pork belly to cool for a few minutes, then place in the freezer for a few hours, until almost frozen (this will make it much easier to slice).
25. Use meat slicer to slice to the thickness you like.
26. Enjoy! Be aware that due to the sugar content of this bacon, you need to use a lower heat than usual when frying/baking so that the bacon doesn’t burn.