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Bacon - My Journey

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    Bacon - My Journey

    Followed the recipe from AR to the letter with the exception of salt. I am a Diamond Crystal user. After tasting the bacon yesterday, I realized the error in my ways. I have spent the past couple hours reading about why there is a difference. Live and learn. This is my first bacon I have made by myself. I think I overdone it on the smoke.

    Post Cure
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    Post Smoke
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    Sliced after cooling down
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    Small chunk cooked off
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    It slices beautifully using a long scalloped slicer that gboss talked about in his thread about his weekend
    Flavor is good, but very heavy on the smoke, like Nueske’s. I welcome all feedback!

    What wood did you use? What temp and time? I have gone away from almond wood for smoke and to oak. It tames the smoke (sometimes too much). I really dry the belly after rinsing. I have found that if I leave it in the fridge overnight before slicing, it tends to be smokier throughout. The leaner the belly, the smokier it seems to be. I really go low on temp (200 to 210) with much smaller splits of wood. They tend to burn cleaner and allow me to keep my dampers fully open. I have to tend the fire a bit more that way but I like the results. The slice you show looks really lean for a belly. Was it lean to begin with or did it render? Don’t know if any of that helps. Just my observations from my cooks.


      I hovered at about 225F pretty consistently on KJ Jr. I used hickory, next time will be applewood. The taste test was yesterday after cooling. Funny you say about it being smokier the next day. I wrapped it very well and my fridge still smells pretty strong. The belly was lean and there was some rendering, too. I am getting ready to cook up another slice. I will report back.


      • Sid P
        Sid P commented
        Editing a comment
        SheilaAnn I assume it’s not salty enough?  I do like a lot of smoke, but I would think it’s difficult to over-smoke meat in the couple hours it takes to get the pork belly up to 150°. I used hickory for my first bacon cook and apple today, and my first impression is that I prefer apple. Did you wrap it in several layers of cellophane and then a layer of foil? I can’t imagine why, but bacon stinks up the fridge a lot more than leftover brisket or pork butt.

      • Oak Smoke
        Oak Smoke commented
        Editing a comment
        You can’t go wrong with apple wood. I have all the oak and pecan I could ever want. I still end up buying a bag of apple wood chunks every so often.

      Keep in mind the end pieces will be a bit more concentrated with salt, smoke, etc. I prefer hickory as I like it on the smoky side, but as Sid mentioned you shouldn't be oversmoked in that short of time. However, if you want less of a smoke profile then go with fruitwood like apple or cherry. I also prefer a more savory bacon so I cut MH's recipe's brown sugar to 4 Tbsp, and add 1 Tbsp of garlic powder plus 1 tsp of smoked cayenne. After curing and rinsing I'll hit it with a nice dusting of coarse black pepper right before it goes in the smoker.

      As MH says in the recipe, get the basics and safety down then experiment from there.

      Oh, and I've started taking one portion of the belly and make bahn mi or PB burnt ends.
      Last edited by CaptainMike; November 22, 2021, 12:45 AM.


      • SheilaAnn
        SheilaAnn commented
        Editing a comment
        Yes, next time I will cut the sugar a bit and do the pepper thing like you said.

      So I cut into it a bit more. Definitely a little less smokey. And I really feel like the flavor profile is a bit more balanced, but still not as salty as I would like.

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      • CaptainMike
        CaptainMike commented
        Editing a comment
        Something else I've become accustomed to is slicing off the ends rather thickly, 3/4" or so, and save them for a recipe or two that calls for bacon, it really amps it up.

      • jfmorris
        jfmorris commented
        Editing a comment
        CaptainMike I do that as well - I just go ahead and dice the end peices up in cubes and vacuum seal for a future pot of beans or something like that.

      • SheilaAnn
        SheilaAnn commented
        Editing a comment
        CaptainMike and jfmorris that is exactly what I did tonight for some greens.

      yeah, AR uses Morton's and uses volume measurements. If you're using Diamond, double the amounts AR asks for and you're close (it's 1.8:1 IIRC)


        This is my current personal favorite bacon brine recipe. I smoke with hickory, but I like smoky!

        3.5 grams Prague Powder #1
        4 tbsp kosher salt - this is Morton’s, not Crystal :-)
        4 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
        2 cloves garlic (or 1 tsp minced garlic)
        3/4 cup distilled water
        1/2 cup maple syrup
        2 tbsp rye whiskey

        This is enough for 3 lbs pork belly and needs to brine for 4-6 days. I cook at 250F until a temp of about 150F … more looking for good color on the outside, honestly.

        I often pepper the outside heavily before cooking. Or use my EBR rub pretty liberally. One time I tried out Montreal Steak Seasoning, that wasn’t bad.

        Hopefully this helps you with figuring out the brine. The key thing is the Prague powder and kosher salt, plus right amount of liquid. The other stuff is about flavor profiles.


        • SheilaAnn
          SheilaAnn commented
          Editing a comment
          jfmorris after years of narrowing down what causes my heartburn, it’s mostly nitrates/nitrites. I can do the “uncurled” stuff like Nueske’s Cherrywood Bacon and other similar products. But go figure…. I can go heavy on crushed red pepper, some hot sauces, etc. Raw garlic was the culprit for a while, when I needs lots of garlic, I lean toward confit or roasted.

        • ecowper
          ecowper commented
          Editing a comment
          SheilaAnn you don't have to use prague powder. You can use just salt to brine. You will get a more hammy flavor, less bacony. Using celery salt won't help since it also contains nitrites/nitrates ..... it's just a way for food manufacturers to claim their food is "uncured".

        • jfmorris
          jfmorris commented
          Editing a comment
          SheilaAnn all that uncured stuff uses celery salt as a nitrite source. It's really a marketing ploy more than anything. Read the second paragraph here:


          And then look at the fine print on the next uncured meat you buy, and see if it has celery powder or juice as an ingredient... the "uncured" bacon I bought the other day sure did.

        SheilaAnn So what was your problem with the salt? Did you use table versus kosher, or just a different brand than Morton?

        I've found the stock recipe is a little sweet and not as salty as I am used to, but having not made bacon in several years, I just followed it to the letter recently, and will probably tweak the sugar down by about 50% and increase the salt about 50% next go around myself.

        Your bacon LOOKS great, and I don't think it can be oversmoked if you pulled it at 140 to 150... just the end pieces maybe, and I like to cut the ends off and dice them up and freeze for use in beans and other recipes that call for bacon.


        • SheilaAnn
          SheilaAnn commented
          Editing a comment
          I used diamond crystal because that’s what I had. Pulled at 151*F because I didn’t hear the timer.

          Overall, I am feeling good about my bacon game and will keep tweaking for our tastes. Of course, my fellow pitmasters are my best advisors!

        • efincoop
          efincoop commented
          Editing a comment
          I have read that some folks find Diamond Crystal less salty compared to Mortons.

        Looks really good, especially for a first time, bravo.

        The slicer really makes a huge difference.

        I slice off the ends and save them for collards, beans, soup, etc. The end pieces are too intensely flavored for me to eat on their own.

        I like hickory for smoking my bacon. We both enjoy Benton's bacon and the intense hickory flavor that it has. I can't get anywhere near the flavor Benton's has at home but I like the similar smoke profile.

        I am with ecowper on this one regarding the "uncured" bacon that is our there. It is cured, just using celery powder or celery juice.

        Nice job! Eat it quickly so you can make it again!
        Attached Files
        Last edited by gboss; November 23, 2021, 11:50 AM. Reason: Edit: grammar.


          Using a kitchen scale is the best way to go when you are curing anything. There is no better way to get it right!

          Another thing on the smoke and the KJ. I find that when I am using mine, I do not add any wood until I am putting the food on. Use chips, instead of chunks. And put them right on the hot fire. Then sprinkle a few around the fire for them to light later on. They will burn up fast, but in that small of a smoking chamber, you do not need much.

          Remember, kamados have a lot less airflow than another smoker, so there is much more residence time for the smoke to adhere to the meat. We do not need to load the cooking chamber with smoke to get the desired amount of smoke. You will be better served to use a small hot fire, with a half a hand full of chips over a few chunks thrown in the fire bowl.

          I would not worry about the difference between apple and hickory, both of these woods will work fine. The key is to get them to burn, not smolder. That is where chips come in. Or at least chunks split into smaller pieces.

          Another point to consider.....there is no reason on earth to cook at 225 F. Especially when cooking pork belly. Kick the KJ up too 275 and let it go. You will have better combustion, a cleaner fire and a cleaner smoke profile. Plus, your bacon will be done sooner so you can enjoy it!


          • gboss
            gboss commented
            Editing a comment
            (continued) elements causes them to smolder and give dirty smoke. If you only have a small amount of coal lit and the wood on top of that, you get the "small, hot fire" you're looking for.

            I see your point about 225 vs 275 for this, but I think I slightly disagree on this one. If your fire is sufficiently small and hot, smoking at the lower temperature gives you longer time in the smoke. With bacon only going to 150F, I appreciate the extra time. But, this still hinges on a properly small

          • gboss
            gboss commented
            Editing a comment
            (continued) burning fire, which is definitely easier to do at higher temps on a kamado, as you mention.

            Anyway, just a couple of ramblings from my experience with my Akorn and Akorn Jr.

          • Spinaker
            Spinaker commented
            Editing a comment
            The scale I have can measure in OZ, lbs and mgs. Which makes it nice. Always my go to when curing. gboss

          Thanks for this post SheilaAnn I am soooo going to make some more bacon soon and I appreciate the information and inspiration !



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