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Home-Cured Bacon

Order five pounds of fresh pork belly from your grocery store, the pork guy at your farmers market, or from a local butcher shop.
—Buy a box of 2-gallon zip-top bags if you don’t have a container big enough to hold the belly.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 7 d
Course Breakfast, Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 5 lbs

Ingredients
  

  • 4 tbsp coarse kosher salt (I like Morton or Diamond Crystal)
  • 2 tsp pink curing salt (order from butcherpacker.com, sold under the name DQ Curing salt)
  • 4 tbsp coarsely ground pepper
  • 4 bay leaves crumbled
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ cup brown sugar or honey or maple syrup
  • 5 garlic cloves smashed with the flat side of a chef’s knife
  • 2 tbsp juniper berries, lightly crushed (optional)
  • 5-10 sprigs thyme (optional)
  • 5 lbs pork belly

Instructions
 

  • Mix the salt and spices together in a bowl.
  • Combine all the ingredients except the pork belly in a 2-gallon zip-top bag. Shake the bag to distribute the ingredients. Put your belly in the zip-top bag (you could also do this in a plastic container, or on a sheet tray with plastic wrap. Rub the salt and spice mixture all over the belly. Close the bag refrigerator it for seven days. Redistribute the seasoning twice or more throughout the week.
  • After seven days, take it out of the fridge, rinse off all the seasonings under cold water and pat it dry.
  • Cook the belly in a 300˚F oven to an internal temperature of 150˚F, about 40 minutes.
  • Let it cool and refrigerate it until you’re ready to cook slice and cook. But I know. You won’t be able to wait. So cut off a piece and cook it. Taste it, savor it. Congratulations! It’s bacon!

Notes

If you don’t have five pounds of belly, either guesstimate salt based on the above or, if you have a scale, multiply the weight of the belly in ounces or grams by .025 and that’s how many ounces or grams of salt you should use.
If for any reason you find your bacon to be too salty to eat (it happens, especially if you measure your salt by sight, which I sometimes do), simply blanch the bacon and dump the water before sautéing it.
Pink curing salt means “sodium nitrite,” not Himalayan pink salt.  It’s what’s responsible for the bright color and piquant bacony flavor.  You don’t have to use it, but your bacon will turn brown/gray when cooked (you’re cooking it well done, after all), and will taste like pleasantly seasoned spare ribs, porky rather than bacony.
If you have a smoker or a grill, you can smoke the bacon (strictly speaking, it needs to have the pink salt in the cure if you’re going to smoke because, in rare instances, botulism bacteria from spores on the garlic could grow; pink salt eliminates this possibility; but I never worry about this, you’re going to cook it again in any case).
You can also, instead of roasting it or smoking, hang it to dry, in the manner of pancetta.
There are plenty of reasons not to cure bacon: fear should not be among them.
Bacon is life itself: embrace it!
Keyword bacon, cured, homemade