Hillbilly Bacon

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)
bacon hanger*

1. Trim external fat from pork butt if desired; place in a shallow container and paint the surface of the butt with liquid smoke.
2. Mix together curing salt, pickling salt, white pepper, garlic powder and brown sugar; rub mixture into all surfaces of the butt.
3. Spread molasses evenly over all portions of the pork butt, transfer to a large Ziploc freezer bag.
4. Seal bag and place in a refrigerator for 7 days, turning bag over every other day to evenly disperse cure.
5. Remove pork butt from Ziploc bag; rinse away excess cure with cold water.
6. Hang butt in a 110°F (43°C) smoker (vents wide open) and hold (no smoke) until the surface of the meat is dry to the touch.
7. Close dampers to 1/4 open, raise smoker temperature to 130°F (54°C), smoke 2-3 hours or until desired color is reached.
8. Close damper, increase smoker temperature to 170°F (77°C); hold until bacon has an internal temperature of 125°F (52°C).
9. Hillbilly bacon can be stored safely in your refrigerator up to 7 days or vacuum seal and freeze up to 6 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, 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 somewhat expensive but you’ll get a lifetime of use.

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