Mostly about food, this blog is just a place for me to throw things that are of interest to me. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by an look around. This represents just some of the stops on the various pathways that this amateur home cook finds himself.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Buckboard bacon at home

Buckboard bacon, made from a pork shoulder rather than pork belly, is a simple to make treat with many rewards. It's fresh, since you made it, you can control the amount of fat included in your bacon, and you can control any flavors you want, like hickory, maple, mesquite or others. A big plus is that it is much cheaper than store-bought bacon. A pound of thick-cut pepper bacon goes for at least $4.00 per pound - this pork butt (I used half for bacon) was purchased on sale for $1.00 per pound and used maybe 75 cents worth of spices, ending up with 3.5 lbs. of bacon. Here's part of the boneless butt, trimmed to just over an inch thick:
Then I mixed up the cure and spices - 1 tbsp of Morton Tender Quick per lb. of meat, a couple of rounded tablespoons of fresh black pepper, and some granulated garlic for flavor.
This mix was rubbed thoroughly over all exposed surfaces of the meat, into the recesses and any cracks, making sure there were no spots left uncoated:
Next comes the hardest part - waiting. the rubbed meat was put into a gallon Ziploc and placed in the coldest part of the fridge for 5-7 days, depending on thickness. The meat will release some liquid during this time, and that's okay. You might consider putting the bag in a tray or pan just in case it leaks. Each day I turned it over to make sure it cured evenly.

Once the fridge time is up, you'll want to take out the butts and rinse them exceedingly well under cold water to remove any residual salt and cure. Do this a couple times. Then, before putting it in the smoker, I often coat the wet surface with coarse ground black pepper for some pepper bacon.

Into the smoker it went at 225 degrees until it reached an internal temperature of 150 degrees. It was pulled and left to cool on the counter. Once it was cooled, it was time to slice. I used a 12" roast beef slicing knife, since a good slicer is behind a good sausage stuffer on my list of things to buy. Here is the finished product:Starting to slice through it, you can see just how lean it is compared to regular belly bacon. I could have left a large fat cap on the meat, which would have given a nice fat strip on the upper surface. Personal preference, really, but here's how my slices came out :
Three and a half pounds of buckboard bacon, fresh from the smoker and sliced. I can't wait to be eating on this:
Here's a closer view of the slices, with a good look at the typical fat/meat percentage when prepared this way. Lots more meat to eat, lots left fat left in the pan, on the plate, or in your arteries!
Probably the best reason to make rather than buy bacon is your control over what goes in it. Have you ever noticed a watery, lightly whitish liquid left in the pan after cooking bacon? That's added water and other additives that were put in the bacon to 'enhance the flavor'. These often include things like Sodium Phosphate, Salt, Sugar, Dextrose, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite, Flavour, Colour, Polysorbate 80 (mfg aid), Calcium Silicate (mfg aid). I used a salt cure, pepper and garlic powder. Period.


Dave Maggard said...

I've got my second attempt at the bacon goin right now. I did two whole butts, one whole loin, and I stuck in a couple tenderloins for the fun of it. My first BB turned out rather bland. I think I fixed it this time. Yours looks shweeeet!

Dave said...

That is some truly fine-looking bacon - thanks for nudging me over here to take a look. I'm definitely going to try it out - when I do, I'll link back here with a tip of the hat.

Anonymous said...

Wow, had the same idea independently. I only found this site after I was done. Just looking for more ideas for next time. I used the directions on the back of the Morton's Sugar Cure for my roast. Then I cold smoked it, 50 degrees F, with our sausage in the smoke house for a day. Plenty of smoke and flavor. On the salty side though, had to soak it in water over night to pull some salt out before slicing