Bacon is a common food we use in every family meal. However, this type of meat is totally not easy to cook. The question is now, how to make bacon correctly?
We have 8 useful steps that will help cook this food with perfection. All the 8 steps are based on our own experience. We have made tons of quality bacon and use them to create many delicious recipes.
After trying to cook this type of food many times, we also find out some mistakes that most beginners have while cooking bacon at home. Therefore, just follow our guidance, and you definitely will never fail at making bacon!
Are you ready to learn? If yes, scroll down and get started now!
How To Make Bacon At Home?
You don’t have to wait any longer! We will dive right into the main detail. In the first section, we share with you the 8 useful steps of how to make bacon at home correctly.
Step 1: Pick Up A Quality Pork Belly
Pork belly is a perfect meat part that most people use to cook bacon. But keep in mind that the belly comes up in many different types. You can not just pick meat without consideration.
In detail, most supermarkets sell industrial pork bellies. These types of meat are cheaper, however less flavored than organic hogs. We always advise you to choose organic pork bellies, as they have a rich and meaty flavor.
You probably wonder what organic pork bellies are. It is very simple to understand! A pig that is raised humanely (without any hormones or antibiotics) will create organic meat. You can find this type of meat from the heritage hog breeds, such as Berkshire, Kurobuta, or Duroc.
Another thing to notice is the size of the belly. Depending on how many people you want to make bacon for, you will decide how many pounds of a belly to buy. A full pork belly is about 10 – 12 pounds heavy, which can serve up to 12 people.
Step 2: Get Rid Of The Meat Skin
We assume that you have found a good part of pork for making bacon. The next step you need to do is prep the meat, which specifically is removing its skin.
You can easily find the skin (also known as rind) right at the bottom of the pork belly. The rind of the pork is quite tough and is not suitable for making bacon. If you don’t remove the skin, it may prevent the meat from absorbing the smoke flavors.
In industry, all commercial smokehouses apply a slicing machine to remove the pork rind. It is very convenient if you have this appliance at home. Otherwise, you will need to manually get rid of the skin.
To do the job, you require a sharp knife. You begin removing at a corner of the pork. Use the knife to slowly separate the rind from the belly. Please be careful when angling the blade toward the rind and make sure that you don’t cut into the meat.
In some supermarkets, the butchers also support removing skin for you. You can ask them to do this work for you.
Here is a note for you! After removing the skin, don’t throw it away! Although the pork rind can not be used to make bacon, you can still use it for cooking many other good recipes that go along with the bacon.
For example, you can grill both 2 sides of the pork rind directly on a high flame to make them crispy and golden brown. After that, you crack them into small pieces and put them on the plate to eat with bacon.
Another great way to cook the rind is to fry them deeply in hot oil. Fried skin is also known as chicharrones (pork cracklings) – a famous food that has crispy and tasty flavor.
Step 3: Prepare The Cure For The Meat
You need to cure the pork so that it can be softer and absorb more seasoning. The question is, how to prepare the cure for the highest quality of bacon.
The common ingredients used for curing pork are white sugar, salt, and pepper. Some people also use sodium nitrite – an optional salt used for curing. Those ingredients are the basic ones that help you cure any type of pork belly.
You can vary the proportions or types of these components for a higher subtle range of flavors. For example, you can use brown sugar or maple sugar instead of white ones. If you don’t like sugar, you can even use the juice of frozen-dried cane. On the other hand, many people prefer hot pepper flakes over ground or cracked pepper.
There is no limitation on the ingredients used for curing the bacon. That’s why many kinds of bacon from different regions have different flavors.
Step 4: Start Curing The Pork Belly
Now you have all the required ingredients for curing. You can begin the next step – cure the belly.
First, place the meat on a rimmed sheet (one used for baking). Season the belly carefully. Make sure that you rub the seasonings on both 2 sides of the meat.
After seasoning, you put the pork belly in a big, sturdy, and resealable airtight container, plastic bag or foil pan for example. Remember to seal the bag (or pan) so that the seasoning smell can not escape. Open your refrigerator and leave the sheet (or pan) on the bottom shelf.
Don’t unseal the bag (pan) during the curing period. Normally, 5 – 7 days are enough for you to cure the meat. But if you have more time, leave the meat longer. The more you cure the meat, the more flavor the bacon will have.
Step 5: Rinse The Pork Belly And Leave It Dry
After finishing curing, you should put the meat in a colander and rinse it under cold water to get rid of the excess salt. This work will help you reduce the salty content inside the bacon, making it more healthy to eat.
Don’t forget to leave the meat dry after rinsing. You can place it on a wire rack on a baking sheet and then leave it uncovered on the bottom refrigerator shelf for more than 4 hours. It will be very great if you can dry the belly overnight.
During the drying period, you should turn the meat side 1 or 2 times. This work will help create a pellicle for the meat. This is known as exterior skin that helps the meat absorb more smoke for extra crispy flavor. A great sign that tells whether the bacon absorbs a lot of smoke or not is the bronzed surface on the above side. The belly only looks bronzed if it has a good pellicle.
Step 6: Smoke The Belly Meat
Alright! There are enough steps for preparation. We can start smoking the pork belly to make bacon! Hurray!
The first thing to do is set up your smoker. Each smoking machine has a specific design. You have to read the manufacturer’s instructions to set up the oven temperature correctly.
After setting up the machine, preheat it until it reaches 175 degrees. In case you smoke the meat using a charcoal smoker, the ideal heat should be between 160 and 180 degrees.
It is essential to choose the smoking fuel (pellets). Different pellets give a specific amount of smoke. You need a lot of smoke to give your bacon a strong flavor.
Here are the best pellets you can use for smoking bacon:
- Blend of hardwoods
If your smoker does not support pellets, you can try using chunks, chips, or stardust instead. They also work very well to add flavor to your meat.
Smoke the bacon for about 2 – 3 hours. During this period, don’t adjust the temperature.
Step 7: Let The Bacon Chill And Rest
After 3 hours of smoking, you can take the meat out of the smoker. The next job to do is to let the bacon chill and rest. This work allows the meat to achieve a better texture and flavor.
This work is very simple to do. All you need to do is cover the bacon in plastic wrap and then let it cool at room temperature. As the meat is cool and dry, put it on a baking sheet (or baking tray) and store it in the refrigerator for the next 3 – 4 hours.
The bacon is then ready to eat! You are now able to cut the bacon for your family meal or cook it as you desire. If you don’t eat the bacon, leave it in your refrigerator, and it will last up to 5 – 7 days. You can also freeze the meat to keep it for many months.
Step 8: Slice The Bacon And Cook It As You Like
The best thing for self-making bacon is that you can decide your favorite bacon slice size. Feel free to cut the homemade bacon as thick as you like. You don’t have this benefit if buying pre-made bacon from the supermarket.
If you like to eat a big piece of bacon, cut the meat to a high thickness. Otherwise, if you want the flavor of the bacon to melt on your tongue, just make thin cuts for it.
You can also use your cooked bacon as an ingredient to cook many delicious dishes. Different recipes require a specific thickness of the bacon.
When buying from the supermarket, you may have difficulty choosing suitable bacon that is thick enough for your recipes. However, this bad situation will never happen, as you can slice your self-made bacon as you like!
Mistakes You May Have When Cooking Bacon At Home
There are several mistakes that most beginners have while cooking bacon at home. Just 1 mistake may lead to a failure of cooking. We have summed up all these issues and given solutions for them. Remember them, and you will never fail in making bacon!
#1: The Bacon Cuts Are Too Thin
During the cooking, thin cuts of meat will become unappealing and unappetizing. Also, if the pork piece is too thin, you may burn it when cooking at high heat.
Therefore, if you want to slice your homemade bacon into pieces for cooking other recipes, you should always make thick cuts.
#2: You Don’t Season The Pork
Bacon is delicious due to its salty, smoky, and crispy flavor. If you don’t season the pork belly, your self-made bacon will become tasteless.
We have taught you the way to cure and season the meat above. Follow it, and your bacon will be better.
In case you have already cooked the bacon without seasoning it, don’t worry! There is still a good way to fix this issue.
In detail, you can add available barbecue spice to your cooked bacon. Besides, you can put the meat on a pan and mix it with coriander, paprika, cumin, and brown sugar. This will help the meat taste saltier.
However, the quality of the meat will not be as good as when you cure it before cooking. The reason is, seasoning the meat after cooking only adds flavor to the surface, not the inside of it.
#3: Cook Bacon In A Pan That Has A High Temperature
Never put your bacon in a hot pan, or else you will regret it! This work may burn the surface of your bacon, making it unhealthy.
On the other hand, if you leave the meat in a hot pan, you can only cook the surface. The inside of the meat may still be raw.
Due to this reason, you should put your bacon into the pan when it is still at a low temperature. Keep an eye on the meat. If you notice that the meat is burned, turn the side of the meat and reduce the heat immediately.
Cooking bacon using a pan is very difficult and requires a lot of patience. We always advise you to make the bacon using a smoker.
#4: Choose The Wrong Type Of Meat
The best part of the pork for making bacon is the belly. This part contains a high amount of fat. When you smoke, the fat will melt and make the meat wet. This prevents the bacon from being too dry.
Other parts of the pork are not fatty. If you choose these parts, your bacon may not be soft and juicy.
Also, it is very important to choose the right type of belly. As mentioned above, organic hogs are always better than industrial meat. The organic pork bellies are much richer and meatier.
#5: Smoke The Bacon Without Getting Rid Of The Skin
Many people don’t remove the rind (skin) on the bottom of the pork belly before cooking the bacon. As explained above, the pork skin is very tough. It does not allow the smoke to soak through it. If you leave the skin on the belly, your bacon will not be able to get enough smoke for a strong flavor.
Thus, please get rid of the rind before cooking the bacon. You can ask the butcher to remove the skin for you. Otherwise, you can follow step 2 above to do the work by yourself.
#6: Throw The Excess Grease Away After Smoking The Bacon
When you cook the bacon, its fat will melt. It is such a waste if you throw this meat grease away!
The fat of bacon still has the flavor of your seasoning. You can reuse this grease to cook multiple types of food.
For example, you can use the fat to fry fries. You can also put some spoons of bacon fat into the soup so that it can have a meaty smell and flavor.
In some cases, you cook the bacon at high heat for too long and make it dry. Just soak the meat in its own grease for several hours, and it will be juicy!
#7: Use The Wrong Pellets For Smoking
We have listed the best pellets for smoking bacon above, including hickory, mesquite, applewood, cherry, and hardwood. You need to keep in mind that every type of those pellets adds a different flavor to your bacon.
A flavor can be someone’s favorite, but it may not please another different person. Even if you use our recommended pellets, the bacon may still not have the taste that you like.
Your job is to understand how the flavors of all pellets differ and then choose the correct smoking fuel that has your favorite taste to add to the bacon.
For example, if you want your meat to have a little bit of sweet taste, choose the applewood pellets. For a strong smokey and bold flavor, the mesquite will work its best. In case you prefer subtle smokiness of meat, just go for the hickory pellets!
#8: You Don’t Preheat The Smoker
You have to smoke the pork belly in 2 – 3 hours at a temperature of 175 degrees (medium heat). Please remember that the entire 2-3-hour cooking process requires the same heat.
Many beginners put the meat into the smoker right after turning it on. This is very wrong! The machine requires 15 – 30 minutes to heat up and reach 175 degrees.
If you put the belly in too early, the cold oven will cook it at a lower temperature than 175 during the first period. Smoking at the wrong heat will badly affect the quality of the bacon.
It is important to heat up the smoker before placing the pork belly in! Nowadays, many modern smokers feature a meat thermometer that indicates the internal temperature. You can read it to see when the temperature reaches 175 degrees and put the meat in at a suitable time.
#9: Add Too Much Salt To The Meat
Flavoring the bacon is essential. But what too much is, is not good.
Basically, the bacon itself already contains an amount of salt inside. You season and cure the meat just to emphasize its flavor.
If you put too much salt in the bacon, it may become bitter, and you will not be able to eat it.
Also, too much salt is not healthy. In fact, a high amount of sodium and salt can increase the blood pressure in your body, leading to many consequences, such as stroke and heart attacks.
Please pay attention to the amount of salt you add to the meat. As our recommendation, you should only add ½ – ¾ teaspoons of salt into 1 – 1.5 pound of bacon.
#10: Not Rinse The Cured Meat Before Smoking
It is not a big deal if you don’t rinse the cured meat under cold water before smoking. The quality of the bacon still remains good. However, it is better if you do this work.
Rinsing the cured meat will help get rid of all excess herbs, black pepper, and salt remaining on the surface. This work also helps reduce a high amount of salty content in the meat. As a result, the bacon will be healthier to eat.
Don’t worry about the flavor! You only rinse the meat quickly for 2 – 3 seconds. This work does not affect the taste of the meat. Actually, the bacon can even be more delicious, as rinsing prevents it from becoming too salty.
Recommended Recipes To Make With Bacon
That’s how to make bacon at home. Now, we will share with you some easy recipes with bacon that any chef, from beginners to professionals, can learn and do after.
#1 Bacon Cheddar Popcorn
The first recipe that we want to introduce to you is bacon cheddar popcorn. Basically, you will make popcorn, which is super cheesy and has a spicy flavor of bacon. You can cook this recipe for your breakfast or for any fast meal in the day.
#2: Bacon Apple Sandwiches
You can use bacon apple sandwiches for your breakfast or lunch. This fast food is super easy to make! It is not wrong to say that this food is a combination of sweet taste (from apples) and smokey flavor (from bacon).
#3: Spaghetti Carbonara
Spaghetti Carbonara, also known as Pasta Carbonara, is a famous dish of the Italians. You can cook this food as a main dish for your family lunch and dinner. The delicious taste of pasta will combine with the spicy bacon, the cheesy parmesan, and the fragrant parsley.
Why buy pizza when you can make it at home? We share with you a great recipe for pizza with flavorful bacon as the main topping! Your family member can enjoy this food at any meal, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Now you know how to make bacon at home. We have also explained 10 common beginner mistakes and give the solutions for them. Follow our guidelines carefully, and you will never fail at cooking this smoked meat anymore!
Our 4 recommended recipes with bacon are very easy to make. You definitely have to try making them! Of course, if you have other good dishes, don’t hesitate to share them with us! It is always good to learn more delicious bacon recipes.
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