Okay, we don’t really travel for bacon. However, if the opportunity would arise, we would absolutely be up for it!
Bacon and Local Food
Wherever we travel, we tend to immerse ourselves in the local food fully. We have started our days in Bangkok with Chicken with Steamed Vegetables, Rice, and Sautéed Eggplant-and we’ve broken ranks and had some bacon!
Regardless of where we’ve traveled, the one meal of the day where we tend to break rank is breakfast and usually for crispy bacon. There’s just something about salty, crispy bacon that connects us with home.
COVID-19 and Travel Blogs
Right about now, we should have been returning home from a two-week trip to Machu Picchu. Exploring Ecuador, the Amazon, and several cities in Peru. This would have given us lots of travel content…
However, as the world was shutting down, we were on a fifteen-day trip through India. We realize we are way more fortunate than many people we know, who did no traveling this year.
With that said, between our India travels and a few local excursions, we had quite a bit of content to share.
But, Back to the BACON!
Food is always a big part of our travels. From local food tours in Xi’an China, Key West, and India to making Kuku Choma and Kachumbari before our trip to Kenya- we are foodies!
We both love to cook. So, during quarantine, after cooking lots of Indian foods and trying our hand at baking bread, we decided to make our own bacon!
It’s a slow process, but we think the anticipation was part of the excitement of butchering, curing, and smoking our own bacon.
The foodie in us thought we’d share the experience with everyone. While it’s a relatively long process, it’s actually fairly easy to do.
Pork Belly –
More and more restaurants offer pork belly on their menu, so access to a raw pork belly is reasonably easy. They don’t have many pig farms here in St Petersburg, Florida, so local ethnic markets were the place to start.
However, with local Asian and Latin markets in Saint Petersburg, we were able to find a pork belly. The Latin grocer had them for or a pretty affordable price. We also found that the pork belly was much meatier than the bacon you buy in the supermarket.
Removing the skin and curing the bacon will be easier if we cut it into two pieces.
The Cure –
There are wet and dry curing options for bacon. We chose the wet cure as it was easy to pop into a zip-top bag and put in our refrigerator.
The process was pretty simple. We combined the following ingredients in a large food-safe container and mixed them until dissolved.
- 5 lbs. Pork Belly – skin removed
- 1 gallon of Water
- 1 c. Kosher Salt
- 1 c. White Sugar
- 1 c. Brown Sugar
- 1 T. Pink Curing Salt
Each piece was placed in a zip-top bag, ladled the curing liquid into the bag, and sealed it.
*We wanted to add a little spice to our bacon. We substituted a ¼ cup of locally made Habanero Sea Salt for a ¼ cup of the Kosher salt the recipe called for.
The link to Florida Pure Sea Salt is not an affiliate link and we recieve no compensation. It happens to be a local product we like and are happy to support.
And, now we wait – the pork belly sat in the refrigerator in the curing liquid for 14 days. Every day we’d flip the bag over and make sure everything was submerged.
Rinse and Rest-
After 14 days, we removed the cured pork belly from the liquid, rinsed it well in cold water several times, and laid it on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet to air dry. We placed it in the refrigerator for about 24 hours.
Low and Slow –
After a 24-hour nap in the refrigerator, the cured pork belly was finally ready for smoking!
We smoked the pork belly in our gas smoker at 175 degrees for about three hours. We chose Applewood as it has a lighter flavor and wouldn’t fight with the habanero’s flavors.
We’re Gadget Guys
Yes, we have lots of cooking gadgets. We love to try new things and make unique foods. If you don’t have a smoker, you can add wood chips to a grill and achieve some smokiness.
With that said – we also have a slicer. We bought it because we found buying bulk lunchmeats and cheeses and slicing our own was much cheaper.
So once the bacon had finished smoking, we sliced, placed it on a cooling rack over a baking sheet, and cooked it at 425 degrees until brown and crisp.
The Final Product
As we mentioned before, the pork belly was a bit leaner than commercially produced bacon. It still had that delicious fattiness you want in bacon, but it makes it a little chewier.
For us, it was more about having fun with the process and making our own bacon. However, we’d do it again.
However, if we were investing the time, we’d do a much bigger batch as our family and friends are already asking for some.