Disappointed with the bacon selection at local supermarkets? You should be. But you don’t have to do without. Making your own bacon at home is laughably simple, requiring really just about 30 minutes of actual work and a bit of patience.
2 kg pork belly
1 cup salt
2 cups brown sugar
a few dashes of whatever other spice you want, but we’d recommend thyme
First you’ll need a hunk of pork belly. The best place to get this is at your neighborhood wet market. Look for the pork butcher and ask them for wu jin du zi, roughly the equivalent of “five pounds of pork belly.” Get them to slice off the skin and excess fat for you by simply saying, wo bu yao pi, or “I don’t want the skin.” You might have to repeat it a few times but they’ll get there.
Once you get back home, wash the pork belly and slice it into more manageable, fridge-friendly hunks while removing excess fat. Note that you actually want a good amount of fat on the meat, as that’s where the flavor lies.
Next, in a small bowl, mix the salt, sugar and other spices you’ve selected until they are evenly distributed. This is called a “rub.” It’s called a rub because the next step is rubbing it all over every millimeter of the belly. Once you’ve done that, put the rubbed belly onto a tray, plate or other large flat surface and stick it in the fridge.
After one day, you’ll notice a large amount of liquid on the surface. Best to go ahead and drain that out so as not to let it overflow onto other items in your fridge. This is a mixture of the rub and water coming out of the muscle tissue. This is exactly what you want. If there isn’t much liquid draining out after a day, consider adding another coating of salt, as it is the active ingredient in the curing process.
After a week, you have bacon! To make truly American-style bacon (and who wouldn’t want to do that?) you’ll want to smoke the pork belly. There are several ways to do this in-home if you don’t have a smoker like we here at The Guide do, all of which will make your house smell like wood smoke. Mmm. Check out our website for meat smoking suggestions, all of which you should do with extreme caution.
Whether you smoke it or not, it’s easiest to slice your bacon when it’s really cold, but not frozen. You’ll need a really sharp knife or a meat slicer.
And that’s it. Easier than you thought, yea? Enjoy, and never live with crappy bacon ever again!
*Editor’s note: Most professionals using a special curing salt which is 6.25% sodium nitrite, 4% sodium nitrate, and 89.75% table salt called Prague Powder #2. It isn’t necessary but it is an extra step in safety, preventing any chance of botulism. We here at The Guide don’t use it ourselves because bacon is relatively safe due to its short curing time and some studies have shown sodium nitrate to be carcinogenic. But just thought you should know. Enjoy.