I make my own sausage, cheese, pickles, pasta,soap,elaborate cakes,etc. Yet I have never made bacon. The web these days is full of DIY charcuterie enthusiasts, and I applaud them. I’m just not into participating in the mass events that populate the blogs these days. So when I saw a blogger I have always respected and admired make her own, I asked myself why haven’t I done so? Naturally I had to Cocofiy it and add my exotic touch. This is grown folks bacon that’s infused with a rich sophisticated smokiness from smoking with Lapsang Souchong , Sichaun peppercorns, Star Anise and other spices. I used a commercial cure from Lem Backwoods in addition to other spices. I like this cure as it reduces the risk of botulism during the smoking /cooking process at lower temperatures. With these sort of commercial cures, the addition of more salt is not needed, so I didn’t add any to my spice blend. I cured for seven days as opposed to Lem’s recommendation of four days. Then rinsed my belly. I found my bacon wasn’t salty at all, unlike store bought bacon. I called Lem Backwoods and they said I was right not to add more salt and sometimes depending on usage or technique, some could find it salty. Either way I was happy with my results and the infused flavor from the tea smoke. The Alchemist, who’s vegan these days even requested some, as bacon is the hardest to give up.
Now most recipes call for the removal of the skin. Bah! I like thick slabs of bacon with the skin, country style. The skin slices through like butter once smoked.
You can smoke outdoor or indoors. I made a my own smoker with my roasting pan and lid, a rack used for baking, foil, and spices atop two gas burners.
The finished product keeps about seven days in the refrigerator, or can be frozen. I recommend slicing and freezing to use as needed. Are you ready for the recipe?
Tea Smoked Home Cured Bacon
Caution: make sure your kitchen is well ventilated with windows open, fan on, etc.
The Cure (4-7 days curing time)
- Pork Belly with skin on (I used about 4.5 lbs)
- 1/4 teaspoon for each 1lb of meat of Lem Backwoods cure or any other commercial meat cure containing salt and Sodium Nitrate (total 1 1/8 teaspoons)
- 1/8 teaspoon fennel pollen
- 2 tablespoon Brown Sugar
- 1 tablespoon coarse ground Black Peppercorns
- 1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- Smidgen of water to mix
The Smoking Aromatics
- 2 tablespoons Lapsang Souchong Tea leaves
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup Jasmine Rice (uncooked)
- 1 tablespoon Sichaun Peppercorns
- 7 Star Anise Pods
Mix your dry cure ingredients with a bit of water to dissolve . Add pork belly to a large resealable plastic bag. Add the cure and rub on both sides. Seal bag, place on a baking sheet or pan and refrigerate. Turn the bag every other day to distribute any seasonings and brine that forms while in the refrigerator. Cure for 4-7 days.
Take the pork belly and rinse off with water. Pat dry thoroughly.
Prepare your smoker. Take a large piece of aluminum foil and make a edges to contain your aromatics. Add the aromatics to the foil.Take a large roasting pan with lid, and place foil lined aromatics on the bottom of roaster. Place a rack , the kind you use for cooling baked goods, and place atop the aromatics. Place your pork belly , skin side up, on the rack. Cover and close any vents that may be on the roaster Using two burners , turn heat to med high for the first five minutes to start the smoking. Reduce heat to medium to low heat. Leave burners on for hour. Turn off heat and leave covered for 1 more hour.The meat should be brownish red in color.
Uncover and let the pork belly cool.Pat off any excess moisture with a paper towel.Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate. A few hours later take out to slice and prepare and wrap for freezing if you plan to. At this point you can fry your bacon.