Honey Cured Bacon

Few things taste as good as a piece of crispy-fried bacon and whether we like the sweetness of honey, molasses and maple syrup, or the stinging bite of coarse black pepper, the one thing that we can agree on is that modern day, store-bought bacon seems to be missing it’s good old-fashioned flavor. So what is a body to do to bring back this full-flavored staple of the American breakfast––make your own?

1 (11-12 lb) pork belly (5-5.4 kg)
2 1/2 tbsp liquid smoke (37.5 ml)
2/3 cup pickling salt (204 g)
2 1/2 tsp Prague Powder #1 (14.3 g)
2 cups brown sugar, packed (464 g)
1/2 cup molasses (168 g)
1 cup honey (336 g)
bacon hangers

1. Cut away the skin from the pork belly if rind-less bacon is desired; paint the entire surface of the belly with liquid smoke.
2. Mix together pickling salt, curing salt and brown sugar; rub mixture into top, bottom, sides and ends of the pork belly.
3. Spread molasses and honey evenly over all portions of pork belly, transfer to a large Ziploc freezer bag.
4. Seal bag and place in a refrigerator for 7days––turning bag over every other day to evenly disperse cure.
5. Remove belly from bag, rinse briefly with cold water.
6. Hang belly in a preheated 110°F (43°C) smoker (vents wide open) and hold (no smoke) until surface of the meat is dry.
7. Turn 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 draft, increase smoker temperature to 170°F (77°C); hold until bacon has an internal temperature of 125°F (52°C).
9. Remove the finished bacon from the smoker and refrigerate overnight. Next day slice and cook in usual manner.
10. Honey cured 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 o meat sliced as thin as bacon, to be safe it should be cooked until it’s crispy.

Check your smoker to see if you have ample space to hang the whole pork belly on bacon hooks above the heat source. If not, it’s okay to cut the belly in half or into thirds or just lay it on racks and smoke cook it horizontally.

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 about eight dollars apiece, but you’ll get a lifetime of use.

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