My dad is a fantastic cook, and often has creative ideas involving food. His latest ambition was to cure his own bacon, and he was generous enough to give me a piece of the pork belly at the beginning of the process.
The initial step is to rub the pork belly with brown sugar and salt (a specific kind, with nitrates, to prevent the meat from turning gray) and place it in the fridge in a plastic bag. For seven days, you're supposed to drain any liquid that's accumulated and add more of the rub.
After the week is up, the meat needs to be rinsed and then dried completely so that you can smoke it. We left it in the fridge, uncovered, for about 48 hours, and then Davy prepared the grill.
We used hickory chips to smoke the pork belly, and monitored the charcoal so that it generated a very small amount of heat. Davy and I kept tabs on the grill for about three hours, and took the smoked meat inside. I sliced the skin off of the top, which was surprisingly easy to do, and then we left it alone to cool.
When we couldn't take it anymore, we cut a few slices to try for ourselves.
This bacon has a great smoky flavor, although it's saltier than we would prefer. We loved eating it since we'd made it ourselves, and I'm trying to decide if it would be best to combine it with another ingredient, or just eat it plain.
My dad is looking into ways to reduce the saltiness, and once we've gone through our bacon, I'm sure he'll be ready for all of us to try again.