Fan Recipe Contest
Congratulations to Beth B. of New Orleans for being our first winner in our new fan recipe contest! We’ve provided Beth’s recipe for curing and smoking our very own pork belly below. Be sure to submit your recipes next week for a chance to win 20% off your next purchase!
I use Michael Ruhlman’s recommended cure proportions then create a flavor profile for individual slabs of bacon, generally about 1.5 to 3 lbs per batch.
- Mix equal parts Kosher salt, black pepper and some sort of sugar or syrup (I’ve used brown sugar, maple syrup, Louisiana cane syrup, and raw Louisiana sugar.) The ratio is the weight of your pork belly multiplied by .025. A 3 lb. slab is about 1361 grams, so you need about 34 grams each of brown sugar, salt and pepper.
- Add to that Prague powder #1, the curing salt that makes bacon pink and controls botulism – multiply your pork belly’s weight by .042 for that amount. A 3-lb. slab uses about 5.7 grams (roll up to 6 grams as most kitchen scales won’t do decimal digits.) You can find this online, and at some local butcher shops. (One example: http://www.americanspice.com/prague-powder-no-1-pink-curing-salt/)
- Add to the curing rub the zest from a large orange, and 1/2 small can of chipotles in adobe sauce (mash peppers and sauce together). Smash about 8 big garlic cloves and pick eight big twigs of fresh rosemary.
- Put 10 grams each cinnamon stick, star anise and whole cloves into a spice grinder and blend together coarsely.
- Mash 10 grams each of garlic and ginger together and mix into the cure.
- Rub the pork belly thoroughly with the cure and seasoning mix. Get in the crevices and rub the ends and sides.
- Place the pork belly in a large ziplock (the 2-gallon size is perfect) and add any leftover rub right into the bag. If you have whole seasonings, like garlic cloves and rosemary or other herb sprigs, distribute them on both sides of the belly. Press the air out and zip the bag tight.
- Keep refrigerated for at least 7 days. Turn the bag and massage it every day. When it’s done, it will feel like a medium rare to medium steak to the touch. You can leave it a day or two longer if it feels too loose after 7 days.
- Once it’s cured, remove it from the bag, rinse it and pat it dry. You can slice and cook it at this point, but smoking adds a beautiful laquer and more flavor.
- Smoke at a temperature of between 175-225 until the internal temperature hits about 150. This can take several hours.
- If you’re using a Weber or barrel grill, build a very small fire with a mix of hot coals and wet chips or chunks in one corner of the grill, near the bottom or side vent. The vent should be barely open. The meat should be over on the other side, under the top vent. You want to draw air (smoke) to move across the wood, over the meat, and up through the barely open top vent. Use foil to put a baffle between the coals and the meat if you want to minimize direct heat transfer, and you can also seal the grill’s leaky places with foil as well.
- I recommend pecan for either of these savory combinations, but applewood is also a big favorite.