Three Questions for Bacon Makin'


Steve_A (Tatoosh)

TVWBB Super Fan
I am pretty happy with the bacon we have been curing and smoking. I use my own rub that Martin helped me work out. The cure is basically maple sugar, salt, and pink salt #1. We add some flavorings when curing but often just do a straight cure and a hickory smoke. But I am curious about changing up a few things:

1) Sweet Bacon - usually honey cured. When I do this, I end up with a bacon that burns easily, particularly the edges where the honey is heaviest. Is there a better approach to honey cured or sweet bacon? Should I be shifting to a brine for this?

2) Which leads me to the idea of a combination cure. I like the dry cure approach, but if flavoring such as honey or a spicy cayenne bacon is the target, maybe some sort of "stitch injection" would be a good way to to get that flavor through out the belly. While I can figure a dry cure by weight or a brine by weight - I'm a bit baffled if I combine the approach. With dry I simply use the green weight of the belly. If I do a brine, I have to figure the total weight including water.

For a combined method - maybe use the dry weight for my amounts - but mix one third of it into a solution that is equally injected through the belly, then the other two thirds used as a rub? The amount of cure won't exceed the correct amount but may be diluted a bit by the water? However easy to do a spicy bacon by adding a hot sauce or cayenne pepper to the injection and rub. For a sweeter bacon - some warmed honey to be included in the injection. Does this sound like a feasible approach?

3) Last Q is for pepper bacon. I want to get a nice cracked pepper exterior that adheres to the bacon prior to slicing. I coat it prior to smoking but much of it seems to come off. So is there a coating I can use to keep that pepper sticking to the exterior? Maybe the infamous "meat glue"? I wonder if that will keep it from picking up the smoky flavor? Not the pepper so much as the meat glue?

Anyone with ideas, experience, or just the need to talk about bacon is welcome to add their two cents worth here.
A guess for q3: what about a mustard slather/cracked peppercorns after the brine/before the smoke? We do it on ribs. Although we also know that the rib bark can be scraped off if you're not careful, it might work.
And for q1: instead of curing it with honey, what about omitting it from the brine and instead, using it as a mop near the end of the smoke time? It will adhere to the belly but not really have time for the water content to evaporate. You'll lose heat each mop opening but the belly is mostly done anyways.

OR what about injecting a slightly diluted [so it can flow through the needle easier] honey.
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I simply put cracked pepper on a platter and press it onto the slab.
This of course is after cure, rinse, and letting a pellicle form.

One of these was plain, one with pepper, and the other with sugar and cinnamon.

Looks amazing Bob.....You coating both sides with pepper, one side or is it preference?
I was thinking like a 28-30 mesh black pepper on a shee and pressing the fat side down into the pepper as you said right before putting on the WSM
I've never had success drowning it in syrup or honey. I just put my tender quick on and put a ton of cracked pepper on it. Let it sit for 8-10days depending on size. The salt will break the pepper down and pull it into the belly


Wow! That is some great looking bacon there! And I very much appreciate the various ideas. I'm tempted to buy some of the meat glue to adhere the cracked pepper on the exterior. But Todd's approach sounds interesting. I make my own cure mixture - very simple - and do a dry cure approach, as I mentioned. I give the bacon 7 to 8 days to cure, turning it daily and giving it a light massage. Now there is a calling I never saw listed in the "Help Wanted" section - "Bacon Masseur"

I have done a sort of mop on with honey, but still had the problem when the bacon was sliced and cooked. It may be that honey bacon needs to be cooked in an oven, not fried in a pan, so that the honey is less likely to burn. But thinning it and injecting is an interesting solution (no pun intended) and if I can figure out how to get the cure balanced in with the injection - I may try this pretty soon.

Bob C. - How is the cinnamon and sugar come out? Very interesting flavor combo - but again I'm worried about it burning if fried. How do you cook it after it is sliced? Your bacon looks superb and I wish I could taste a bit of it.

I really would like to add 1) pepper bacon 2) sweet bacon 3) spicy bacon to my repertoire. We have almost 20 kilos of my standard in the cure for July and will smoke it all on my 22.5 Weber OTG kettle. This about twice our normal monthly amount.