Havent updated in awhile…
Just made some Maple cured smoked bacon. The recipe was from Michael Ruhlmans book, Charcuterie.
I started with a pork belly.
This was then cryovaced for two weeks with a mixture of salt, brown sugar, maple syrup and sodium nitrite.
After being cured, the belly looks like this.
The meat has a more translucent look from the cure and has taken on more colour from the addition of nitrites.
The belly was then placed in the smoke oven at 30 degrees centigrade for four hours. This is to dry out the meat a little to allow the smoke to adhere to the meat by forming what is known as a pellicle. If the meat is too wet, the smoke will not attach itself to the meat.
After this, the belly was smoked with redgum sawdust at 85 degrees centigrade until the internal temperature of the belly reached 68 degrees centigrade. When it came out, it looked spectacular as can be seen in the two pictures below.
After placing the belly in a cooler for 24 hours and the bacon reaching an internal temperature of less than 4 degrees centigrade, it was ready to slice and eat.
This bacon was very easy to make and similar results could be achieved merely with the use of an oven rather than a dedicated smoke oven.
The recipe called for approximately 15g/kg salt. By Australian standards this is very lightly salted for a bacon. The results confirmed this with nearly everyone who tried it saying it was not salty enough except for one person who was known for not liking things with any salt added. Next time I make it, I will add closer to 22g/kg salt to the cure. Some people also said it was a little sweet although not overpowering. This was acceptable given that it was a sweet maple cured bacon.
I will surely make this bacon again and even though the results were acceptable to a group of meat connoisseurs, they far outweighed the results from commercial bacons. This is because this bacon was not pumped with brine prior to cooking. Most commercial bacons are pumped significantly with brine. This not only shortens curing time but also increases the yield of the final product which essentially equates to more profits.