Mmm, bacon. I need some bacon for the BLT From Scratch Challenge, and I've never cured meat before, so it's time to do a test.
For this first bacon I used the recipe and method in Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It. There are excellent recipes in Michael Ruhlman's Charcuterie and The Paley's Place Cookbook by Vitaly Paley. I'll try both eventually.
For this recipe you'll need to get some curing salt, sometimes called "pink salt," Prague powder, or Insta-Cure #1. Don't confuse this pink salt with actual pink salt from Australia or the Himalayan Plateau. Curing salt includes salt, sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite, and other ingredients, and is commonly dyed pink to make it visually different from regular salt.
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
2 tablespoons kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon curing salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Rinse, trim, and dry one hunk of pork belly of about 2½-3 pounds so that it's rectangular. Then mix the cure ingredients together and rub it into the pork belly on both sides and along the edges.
Put the belly into a plastic bag if you have one big enough, or into a glass dish that will hold it and cover with plastic wrap. Put into the refrigerator to cure.
Every day for the next week, massage the juices that have accumulated back into the meat and turn it over. If it still feels squishy anywhere after a week, continue to cure for another day or two. Then you're ready to smoke or roast the bacon.
For this first batch I roasted the bacon in a 200°F oven for about 2 hours until the interior temperature reached 150°F. Then I brushed genuine liquid hickory smoke on both sides and let it cool.
This was my first home-cured bacon and I will never buy bacon again. It's just plain silly to buy that which can be made so easily and so very much better than store-bought.