Homemade bacon – this post features a recipe, but more importantly, it is about tradition, family tradition passed down through generations.
As some of you know, my wife Jody and I purchased her grandparents old home. We very much enjoyed spending time with her grandparents in their later years, listening to their stories of life. I enjoyed their recipes. My wife’s grandpa was a butcher in his former life and he loved to process his own meat. In fact even in his retirement years, he still loved working with pork, beef and wild game. He had his own equipment, the highlight of these butchering tools was his smoker.
It is a simple smoker, built out of an old culvert with a door cut into the bottom and some sheet metal on the top. It is not pretty, but it works and the results are yummy.
Before grandpa passed he “showed me the ropes”. I was taught to make everything from smoked fish, ham and sausage. But my favorite thing to make is….BACON. Everyone loves bacon and it is not as hard to make as you might think. Here is the recipe for old fashioned/old school smoked bacon.
1 pork belly (you can ask any butcher for this)
1/4-1/2 a cup of pink Himalayan sea salt
some chopped and split hardwood (I prefer apple and/or oak)
a match(s) (number of matches depends on how good of a boy scout you are)
First you get your belly. You can get it with or without skin. I prefer without the skin so the salt can absorb in better. Next you salt the belly with all the salt. Be liberal with your salt and ensure the belly has all been “kissed” by the salt. Now let it sit in the fridge for 2-3 days. You need time for the salt to penetrate the belly all the way through. After you feel the belly has soaked long enough you can light a fire. I have an old culvert, but there are many many many homemade designs that can be found on google that are simple and cheap to make. Now the trick is to light the fire and then “kill the fire”. You don’t want heat, but you do want smoke. I like to build the fire so it is crackling good and hot and then I place the lid on my smoker so it is starving from oxygen. As a result it will smoke. That is when you add the belly. You can lay it down on a rack or hang it with hooks. Now let it be, it should smoke for approx 2-3 hours. Check the fire every 15 min to ensure it is still going and not too hot.
Making homemade bacon is something special that reminds me of my elders and family. This also helps my wife remind her of our grandmother who also loved to do handwork. “Grammy” claimed her hand work was her outlet and a pleasure for her. She often made tea towels and dish cloths. We have a nice collection at home, so for this post it only seamed fitting to feature one of her tea towels. This post helped to remind me/us that our house is not just a house but a home. And that makes this extra special it us.