If pork bellies are a hassle to get in your area, there’s no need to despair because you can make shoulder bacon, known in some circles as “hillbilly” bacon, from pork butts which are readily available and less costly. Using lean pork butt instead of pork belly is also an excellent way to reduce the fat content in your home-cured bacon.
5 lbs pork butt (2.27 kg)
1 1/2 tbsp liquid smoke (22.5 ml)
1 tsp Prague Powder #1 (5.7 g)
1/3 cup pickling salt (102 g)
2 1/2 tsp white pepper (6.75 g)
2 tbsp garlic powder (18.6 g)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar (348 g)
1/2 cup molasses (168 g)
1. Trim external fat from pork butt, place in a shallow non-reactive container or large Ziploc freezer bag.
2. Use a clean brush to paint the surface of the butt with liquid smoke.
3. Mix together remaining ingredients except molasses, rub mixture into top, bottom, sides and ends of the butt.
4. Spread molasses evenly over the butt, seal bag, cure at 40°F (4°C) for 2 weeks, turning butt every third day.
5. Brush off remaining surface salt and soak for 1 hour in fresh, cold water.
6. Hang butt in a 110°F (43°C) smoker, vents wide open, hold (no smoke) until surface of the butt is dry to the touch.
7. Close vents, add chips, raise smoker to 165°F (74°C), hold until butt has an internal temperature of 135°F (60°C).
8. Pull butt from smoker, hang at room temperature until internal temperature drops to 100°F (38°C); refrigerate.
9. Next day, butt bacon can be sliced thin or thick but must be fully cooked before eating.
10. Hillbilly bacon can be stored safely in a refrigerator up to 7 days, or vacuum seal and freeze up to 4 months.
*Though bacon has been cured and smoked, it must be fully cooked before it can be eaten. Since there’s really no way to determine the temperature of meat sliced as thin as bacon, to be safe it should be cooked until it’s crispy.
If the finished product seems too salty for your taste buds, soaking it in cold water for one hour will remove much of the excess salt. Pat dry before slicing.
*Stainless steel bacon hangers are available at most online sausage and jerky supply stores. They are a bit expensive but you’ll get a lifetime of use.
For more bacon recipes and more bacon information go to Sausage And Jerky Maker's Bible.