Making your own bacon from scratch is easier than you’d think. This recipe for DIY champagne miso bacon is all you need to know to for your first foray into home curing and smoking with a gas grill.
Someday you will find me, caught beneath a landslide, of some Champagne Miso Bacon, in the skyyyyyyyyyyyyy!
I Don’t Know What That Means
No one does! Well, kids, it’s still Bacon Month and I’m back with a how-to of sorts. You ever want to try making your own bacon from scratch?
Welp. Then I guess we’re done here. Are you sure? It’s not that hard!
Yay! Let’s start of by first mentioning that IT’S BACON MONTH!!! All throughout August of 2016, 11 other bloggers and I will be posting bacon recipes. Check out my first post on how to make bacon in the oven so that it comes out perfectly every time.
Who Are The Other Bacon Baes?
So Much Bacon!
Yup! We’re also doing 3 separate raffles so you guys can get free stuff! We have one raffle for $100+ worth of Lodge products. We have another raffle for a year’s worth of Torani stuff. Lastly we have a third raffle for $125 Paypal gift card! That’s a whole lot of stuff you could win, and you can enter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
You can enter to win once a day and the drawing will be at the end of Bacon Month. I can’t enter but I’d love to see one my readers win, because you guys and gals are awesome!
I should also mention that this post is a sponsored post for Lodge, the cast iron skillet folks. They sent me a new carbon steel skillet to try out. Honestly, I wasn’t a fan. Don’t get me wrong, I love Lodge’s cast iron skillets because they are so durable and so versatile. If you treat it right, a Lodge cast iron skillet will last you a lifetime. They have a natural non-stick coating that comes from a baked on seasoning of oils. That means no harmful chemicals are being released when you heat up the pan, unlike a teflon pan which is coated with carcinogens.
As opposed to aluminum or copper, cast iron is also a terrible conductor of heat. However, that’s what makes it so amazing. You can use cast iron on the stove top or the oven and cook perfect breads in a cast iron skillet, use a cast iron dutch oven for extremely slow braised briskets, or for perfectly crispy pizza crusts. The reason is that since it’s so awful at conducting heat, it’s also marvelous at holding heat. Carbon steel behaves similarly but cannot achieve the heat, or hold that heat for the amount of time cast iron can without warping. Again I LOVE my 4 cast iron products (two pans, a dutch oven, and a chicken roaster) because they can do anything. I would implore you to buy a cast iron skillet from Lodge because it is a basic that every kitchen needs.
Carbon steel is lighter so I suppose if you could swing it easier in the case of a zombie apocalypse. So, if you are expecting to fend off a horde of walkers in the kitchen, go carbon steel.
Enough! I Need Bacon!
YES! Baconing! Let’s get to it! Making bacon from scratch is actually extremely simple. Essentially it is pork belly that is cured for long term storage, which was important during pre-refrigeration days. But wait, I saw this factoid in a print version of Scientific American and couldn’t find the article for citation. Until now:
Chinese cooks were the first to salt pork bellies not only as an early form of preservation but also as a way to bring out the flavor of the meat. (Processed Food: A 2-Million-Year History)
That’s right bacon is a Chinese Invention. They gave use fireworks, pasta, and now bacon! Hey, are you ok? Do you need some glue to put your mind back together after having been BLOWN?!
So, we need to start with pork belly. A lot of the bacon recipes on the interwebs will tell you to use a whole 6 pound slab of pork belly. That will leave you with 5ish pounds of bacon. Well, let’s be honest, bacon’s not very healthy and that’s a whole lot of bacon. We’re only going to be using a more reasonable 2 pound slab. You can ask the butcher in the meat department of your grocery store for pork belly, but I’ve found they aren’t the best cuts. You will get a much better cut from a real butcher.
Next, we need to cure the pork belly. To cure any meat, you need sodium in either the form of a brine or a rub. In this case, we will be using a wet brine. There are 3 basic flavors when it comes to bacon, sweet, salty, and a little spicy. Of course, this isn’t the rule but it’s a good place to start experimenting. We are going to achieve this with champagne (sweet), awase miso paste (salty), and some gochugaru flakes(spicy).
WTF Is Awase Miso?
Miso paste is fermented soybean paste made with soybeans (duh), various grains, and salt. Awase miso is your standard miso, which is a blend of red and white miso. With a medium, umami flavor it makes for the perfect curing agent for bacon. You can read more about miso on this primer from Just One Cookbook. You can get miso paste at any asian store or on Amazon (much cheaper in the stores though).
WTF is Gochugaru
Gochugaru is a Korean red pepper with a smokey flavor that’s a bit spicier than your standard red pepper. It’s what gives kimchi that unique kick. You can substitute red pepper flakes, but it just won’t be the same. Gochugaru is available at any Korean grocer and, of course, Amazon. The thing about it, though, is you have to buy the good stuff. There is such a massive difference between the cheap and expensive shit.
We also need champagne. Don’t buy a bottle pricier than $10 dollars for this as it really won’t make a difference.
I Got My Shit Together. When Can I Start Makin’ Bacon?
Right Meow! Mix the champagne, miso, and gochugura until well combined. Rub it all over the meat making sure it is well coated. The next step is simply to put it into a gallon sized Ziploc bag. If you have leftover miso sauce, just throw it into the bag as well. Force the air out of the bag, seal, and place in the top rack of the refrigerator for 7 days.
Yep. The pork belly needs one week to cure. Making bacon is a simple process but it needs that time for the meat to be flavored and the water to be drawn out. So, let the meat cure in the bag, flipping it once a day.
OK It’s Been A Week. Pfft. When Can I Have My Bacon?
Patience. Do you know what the difference between bacon and pancetta is? Pancetta is pork belly that is cured but not smoked. Bacon is pork belly that is cured and smoked. At this point, you have a pancetta of sorts. You need to smoke the pork belly in order to call it bacon. You can also roast it but that’s just not the same.
I Don’t Own A Smoker. How Do I Smoke Something On A Gas Grill?
Neither do I. What a coincidence you should ask! Smoking on a gas grill is actually pretty simple. You could either A) buy a smoker box or B) go to the dollar store and buy a small aluminum tray. I went the dollar store route and you should too. A pack of 3 will a cost you a buck and you can recycle it when you are done.
Now, you need some form of wood to put in the your DIY smoker box. The most commonly used types of wood for smoking bacon are hickory and applewood. For this recipe, we will be using hickory. The question is if you want your meat smokier tasting or not. If you buy hickory chips, you will get a longer burn but with less smoke. If you buy sawdust, however, it will burn faster and give you more smoke. Your meat will be smokier flavored and it’s honestly up to you. I went with chips this time for a less intense smoke, but I think I may go with sawdust the next time I make bacon. With sawdust, you also don’t need as much heat because the pieces are smaller so you can have a longer cook time and smokier flavor. You can buy wood chips for smoking meat at almost any hardware store or Amazon. You can pick up hickory sawdust on Amazon as well.
Now simply fill 2 small aluminum trays with hickory chips and cover with aluminum foil.
I say two because at some point during your smoke those chips might burn out and it’s a good idea to have another on hand. Poke a few holes ( I did 12 because it seemed like a good number) in the foil to let the smoke out.
Also, poke 9 holes (because, why not?) in the bottom of the pack.
Now pick up your grill grates, place the foil pack on the grill bars over the back burner, and put the grates back.
Turn the back burner on high, close the lid, and wait for it to start smoking (about 10-15 minutes). Lower the temperature on the back burner and bring the grill to 200ºF. This is important. Your other burners should remain off the whole time. Place the pork belly on the front part of the grill and let it smoke for 4-6 hours.
Try and resist the urge to frequently check on your meat, because every time you open the grill you are letting out all that tasty smoke. You may, however, flip the meat every hour. If you discover that wood chip pack stops producing smoke, swap it with the other one. Don’t bother turning up the heat to get more smoke again. It’ll get there.
After 4 hours take the temperature by sliding a meat thermometer into the front of the belly. If it reads 150ºF then you’ve got bacon. If it doesn’t, give it more time.
Once the meat hits 150ºF your bacon is ready!
Hold on there, tiger. First, you should let the bacon cool before cutting because it’s just easier to cut it after it’s chilled. Cut it into strips like you’d see at the store and store it for whenever you want bacon.
I WANT BACON RIGHT NOW, DAMMIT!
Ok! Fair enough! Heat up your skillet or oven and go to town.
Currently Jamming To:
This recipe requires a little something special. Here’s a list of what you will need: