In my original post on Buckboard Bacon back a few months ago, I just gave all of you a link to Third Eye’s “Playing with Fire and Smoke” blog for his buckboard bacon recipe … which is awesome, and one of my inspirations for becoming an at-home bacon maker, too. I don’t ever want to steal his thunder, because he was most DEFINITELY one of the people who inspired me. However, I’ve tweaked it a little for my own consumption now, too … plus, I keep confusing people who think “I remember! Lane has that recipe on her blog” … but then they can’t find it here. Therefore, I’ve decided to publish *MY* recipe for the bacon here, too …. just so I don’t keep confusing people. But please go read/support Third-eye’s sites as well. The man knows smoke and flavor!
So here’s Lane’s Buckboard Bacon Recipe:
Start with one whole boneless Pork Loin. Trim the excess fat off of it–as much as you like–but, personally, I don’t really trim mine much at all. Most of the ones I buy come from Cash and Carry, and they’re already pretty closely-trimmed when I buy them. All I ever remove is any fat that’s HARD. If it’s thick enough to be hard, then it’s thick enough to impede the curing process. It won’t stop it completely–just in case you’re one of these people who really love all the fat on their bacon–but it does slow it down some, so I remove it. Beyond that, I leave the “silver skin” and the rest of that thin layer of fat that surrounds part of the loin. It helps keep the meat from drying out too much, and–if I ultimately decide I don’t want to eat the fat, I just strip if off after I cook the meat/before I eat it. Given the way a pork loin is built structurally, once you slice it thin enough to cook–then cook it–that strip of fat around each slice comes tight off.
I originally cut my loin into four pieces and cured them two chunks -to- a plastic gallon zipper bag, but–these days, after a few batches–I cut my loin into eight pieces instead, curing four -to- a bag instead. The loins from C&C weigh 8-10 pounds each, so cutting it into eights basically portions it right for us. It gives us approx. 16 meals for two, cut into two-meal portions. That way, I can wrap each chunk tightly using my new FoodSaver … and they stay wonderfully fresh in my fridge until we eat them. Granted, it never really takes us all that long to eat it around here. When we have Buckboard Bacon around and ready to eat, we tend to plan bacon meals
For each pound of meat in each bag (do the math!) I add:
- one tablespoon Morton’s TenderQuick
- two teaspoons brown sugar
- one teaspoon ground black pepper
- a whisper of fresh-ground cinnamon
- a whisper of fresh-ground nutmeg
When I say a whisper … I really do mean a whisper. I don’t overload my bacon with cinnamon and nutmeg. I don’t even want to taste it in the final product. I just take my small spice grater, hold it over each bag, and just go wisp-wisp with a cinnamon stick … and then wisp-wisp with a whole nutmeg right behind it. It hardly puts any into the bag overall, but that little hint does wonderful things to the overall flavor of the bacon.
I let my bacon cure for seven days. Make sure you turn the bags over once each day to circulate the cure … which will liquefy in the bag. I use a rectangular food service container to hold my bags, kinda like this one … but mine is bigger, the kind you’d find in a commercial kitchen. If you have a restaurant supply store in your area (like I do in Cash and Carry) you should be able to find one for less than $10 (I think I grabbed mine on sale for less than $7) that will easily hold a whole pork loin in zipper bags. The reason I put my plastic bags of meat into an additional container in the fridge is simple: those bags leak on occasion … and I’d rather have something there to catch all that salted sugar and blood … before it glues itself to the bottom of my refrigerator. I like the rectangular-shaped container … because it fits nicely in the bottom of my fridge
After seven days, I drain off the cure, drop all of my chunks of meat down into the plastic container, fill it with water, put the lid on it, and let it soak on the counter for about an hour. After my first hour, I drain the water off, replace it with fresh water, and let it soak for another hour. We don’t necessarily have problems with the salt, but–trust me–there will be plenty left after that soak! If you want to take more salt out of your bacon, they say you can soak it as long as 24 hours. I’ve never soaked mine nearly that long, but if you ever do … please come back and comment here about how it came out. I’m curious!
Note: I soak my bacon sitting out on my countertop … because I live in the PNW, where it stays pretty cool most of the time. In the middle of Summer, it’s often a blistering 75 degrees here. Plus, I have these great concrete and tile countertops that act as a heat-sink. I hate cleaning them because I have to deal with grout, but they can suck the heat out of ANYTHING you set on them. It’s amazing how fast they can cool a cake, so they have no problem keeping my bacon–that’s already been refrigerated for a week–cool while it soaks for two hours. If you don’t–and if it’s too hot where you live–let it soak in the fridge.
Once my buckboard bacon has soaked to my satisfaction, I drain the meat, pat it dry, and store it back in the fridge–open–to let it dry for a couple more hours, turning it once. It doesn’t have to be bone-dry, but you don’t want it sitting in a puddle when you go to smoke it. When it’s dry enough for me, I put it in my smoker–that runs at about 190-200 degrees–over hickory chips, and then I smoke it for six to eight hours, depending on how long it takes the pieces to become firm to the touch and perfumed with smoke. For those of you who prefer to work by temperature rather than nose and feel … Third-Eye suggests shooting for an internal temperature of 140 to 150 degrees.
After smoking, I’ve started shrink-wrapping each piece individually with my new FoodSaver. That way each piece stays sealed away–nice and fresh–until we’re ready to use it. I haven’t tried freezing the pieces yet, but I’ll bet they have a similar shelf-life to commercial bacon when treated that way.
Oh, and if you need a smoker, you can always make yourself one out of a flower pot … here’s how!