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My bacon makin' experience (or lack there of)

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  • JimLinebarger
    Club Member
    • Jun 2017
    • 657
    • Spokane Valley, Wa.
    • Grills/Smokers
      Blaze 32" 4-Burner Gas Grill w/infrared rear rotisserie burner
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      About me
      Name: Jim
      Nick name: Bear
      Location: Spokane Valley, Wa.
      Born at a very young age at Egland AFB, Ft. Walton Beach, FL.

      USAF vet, ECM (F4 & B52)/B52 Crew Chief, Computer Systems NCO, disabled
      Former Computer Tech/Admin
      Campus Manager/Lead Tech/Tech (IT) for The Kemtah Group contracted to Intel, Rio Rancho, NM.
      Short Term Missionary to the Marshall Islands with MAPS of DFM of AOG

    My bacon makin' experience (or lack there of)

    After being part of this group for a few months, I started thinking about making my own bacon. I was even encouraged by my Orthotist who had been making her own bacon for years. So, I found out that my local spice company had their own mixture for making maple bacon. I purchased the bag and then got 2 pork belly slabs and set to work. Now, I had been seeing and reading a lot about dry brining. So I decided that was what I would do with these 2 pieces. However, the mixture I purchased was setup for wet brining and with a certain weight of pork belly. (Don't groan yet. More is to come.)

    I laid out the slabs and started spreading the mixture all over on each side, wrapped them in plastic, and set them in the refrigerator for a 7 day brine. (pausing so people can catch their breath. Now continue.) On the second day, while I went down to turn them over, I noticed that the brine had "melted" off. So, (hold on) I unwrapped them and spread more brine over them, covering them better than the first time. On the rest of the days, even though I noticed again that the brine had "melted" I decided that maybe that was suppose to happen and I just turned them over.

    Day 7, the glorious smoking day. I setup my vertical gas smoker with the charcoal minion method to keep the temp low since the lowest setting for the gas would just flame out with a slight breeze. I took the slabs out of the plastic, put them on my new bacon hooks and set them in the smoker. During the smoke I did have to augment the temp with the gas. It took about 4 hours but they looked and smelled good. (I know, you groaned again earlier but I was just going to ignore it.) I decided to slice off the ends and taste them. Well....that first bite was so salty that it probably was my daily requirement of salt for the week. The rest of the slabs were just as salty. It took us almost a year to go through those bellies where it usually would have lasted 3-6 months. We had to really think of how we could use them. I tried wrapping hotdogs with them and caught myself thinking that bacon was overrated and that you could have too much bacon.

    The next time I still had some brine left over so I did it again but this time did a wet brine. I didn't know the ratios since I really didn't know how much brine I had left compared to the original water/brine ratio. But I thought I would only do it for 3 days this time and it should be better. Setup the smoker the same and went from the brine to the hook to the smoker. Again it was too salty. I tried rinsing it after the smoke which killed the smoke flavor. I even tried soaking individual slices before cooking. Too salty.

    Now, this brings me to this weeks version of makin' bacon. I used Meathead's Maple Bacon recipe and followed the directions. I started on Monday, flipped 2x each day, pulled on Thursday. However, I forgot that we had stuff to do on Thursday so I scheduled the smoke for Friday. It was raining pretty good on Friday so had to wait until today (Saturday). I also thought, "I've go a PBC which is setup for hanging, why don't I use that?" One of those "Duh" moments. I have never use my PBC below 250F because I felt that just smoldering and wouldn't have the good smoke. Then I had another "Duh" moment. What is the difference between the PBC being at 225F and my Weber kettle being at 225F? So, into the PBC it went and 3 hours later pulled. I place it on a rack to let it cool before putting in the fridge for slicing tomorrow. But something haunted me. Did I take it up to the right temp? So I went back to the recipe and saw that I did take it to 150F. I read a little further and Meathead suggest that we slice off the ends because they would be more salty and possibly have a different texture in the fat and that we needed to take a taste. So, I jumped up out of my computer chair, trying not to knock it across the room, and grabbed a big knife and sliced the ends. I cooked them up and tasted them. Well, it tasted nothing like the other bacon I did. My wife said, great flavor and a little sweet. It wasn't salty at all. I like that better because I can control how much salt is needed when I use it in recipes, like bacon wrapped chicken thighs, or bacon wrapped corn. I can now see that there really can't be too much bacon. It's like coming out of a thick fog and seeing the sunshine again! (Can't say that now all things are right with the world since that is another topic of non-discussion.)

    So, what are the take-aways from this? That there are way to many things wrong with the previous endeavers to undergo a rewrite or even a redo. It is best not to chock it up to experience. It is better forgotten, as if it never happened. It will take me some time to completely wipe those experiences out because I have little reminders. Such as, if something isn't seasoned enough all I have to do is lick my arms before each bite, but soon that salt lick will disappear.

    Before you ask "So where be the pics?" just look up Meathead's Three Bacon Recipes and it will be close. Ours is slightly darker, didn't have anymore apple so used oak. The reason for the no pics is that we don't utilize cell phones like most people. Ours are used when we leave the house and are turn off the rest of the time. We have one vehicle, a 2015 Toyota Rav4 with less than 4000 miles on it. So, we don't leave the house much. I have to figure out how to use it almost every time we go out. We have 2 cell phones. Mine is an Iphone 5s and my wife's is a Kyocera Flip phone (not a smart phone).
  • Oakgrovebacon
    Club Member
    • Apr 2016
    • 1711
    • South central Illinois

    #2
    I am so glad that you kept trying. Now you can join the ranks of us that do not purchase bacon.

    Comment

    • mnavarre
      Club Member
      • Jan 2018
      • 343
      • San Diego

      #3
      I need to make some belly bacon, but thanks for reminding me I need to turn the loin I've got brining for back bacon.

      Comment

      • ComfortablyNumb
        Club Member
        • May 2017
        • 2752
        • Northeast Washington
        • KBQ C-60
          PK360
          Thermoworks Smoke
          Thermoworks Thermopop
          Thermoworks Dot

        #4
        Michlitch? They are great for spices, but I pass on their mixes. Glad you persevered and tried Meathead's recipe. Here's to more for you!

        Comment


        • JimLinebarger
          JimLinebarger commented
          Editing a comment
          Yes, Michlitch. I don't get many of their blends, just some of the new Himalayan mixes and their garlic pepper mix.
      • RonB
        Club Member
        • Apr 2016
        • 11030
        • Near Richmond VA
        • Weber Performer Deluxe
          SNS
          Pizza insert
          Rotisserie
          Smokenator 1000
          Cookshack Smokette Elite
          2 Thermapens
          Chefalarm
          Dot
          lots of probes.
          CyberQ

        #5
        Great write-up. And I am glad you finally figured it out.

        Comment


        • JimLinebarger
          JimLinebarger commented
          Editing a comment
          Figured it out to do Meathead's recipe cuz they work!
      • JoeSousa
        Club Member
        • Sep 2016
        • 625
        • Spokane, WA

        #6
        Awesome to have another bacon maker here in town. We should swap some sometime. I usually make 20-30 pounds every couple of months.

        Comment


        • JimLinebarger
          JimLinebarger commented
          Editing a comment
          Wow! Haven't made that much total yet. Only have 3 mouths to feed. But then again, it was so bad before that none of us really wanted to have bacon. Now we shall see what happens.

        • Livermoron
          Livermoron commented
          Editing a comment
          Same here. The neighbors have come to expect their cuts (they pay in bourbon). When I start the smoker, I see heads pop up over the fence like prairie dogs that heard a train whistle...

        • Mr. Bones
          Mr. Bones commented
          Editing a comment
          Livermoron
          When I start the smoker, I see heads pop up over the fence like prairie dogs that heard a train whistle...
          Dang! Now, that, right there, is quotable!!!!
          Consider it stolen!

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