OK, seriously, who doesn't love bacon?!
I mean.., yes. I know there of plenty of people around the world who don't eat pork. Actually, one of my brothers is one such person. And every chance I get, I wag a juicy, perfectly smoked spare rib in his face and tell him how much he's missing. That's family.
But for us pork lovers, there just isn't anything quite like bacon. And these days, that salty, fatty, crispy, smoked goodness is hard to escape. It's everywhere! From bacon bits in cream, to bacon in popcorn, to bacon in my Bloody Mary. Bacon is an obsession. It's practically one of the 5 tastes:
There's salty, sweet, sour, bitter, umami.., and now BACON!
So with that in mind we bring to you.., Jerk Central's Appleton Jerk Bacon!
If you've never made bacon before, you'll be shocked to know how easy it is. All you'll need is a few ingredients (most of which you already have), a week in the fridge and about 3-4 hours in the smoker or oven.
So run.., don't walk, to your pantry!
1 gallon Ziploc bag
1 meat thermometer
2 pounds of pork belly
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1.5 teaspoons pink salt #1 (not pink Himalayan salt) Can be found on amazon.com
3 teaspoons Jerk Central Jamaican Jerk Dry Rub
3 teaspoons Jerk Central Jamaican Jerk Marinade
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons agave nectar or grade B maple syrup
1/2 cup water
4 Tablespoons Appleton rum (or another dark rum)
* If cooking in the oven - Liquid Smoke (a few drops as directed on the bottle)
Place the ziploc bag into a tall container and combine the wet and dry ingredients in the ziploc. Swish the ingredients to mix well.
Next, add the pork belly to the bag and partially zip it. Squeeze the air out of the bag and and then seal the top.
Swish the contents of the bag around the meat until it is well coated and some of the seasoning particles are embedded in the meat.
Lay the bag flat in a tuperware container or rimmed pan and place the container in your fridge. Leave the bag in the fridge for 7-9 days. Every other day flip the meat so that the other side can react with the cure.
After a week, or so, remove the belly from the bag. You'll find that it is much firmer than when it first went in. Discard the contents of the bag.
Give the belly a quick rinse under running water to remove most of the cure and shake off the excess water. Resist the urge to pat the belly dry with a paper towel. Smoke adheres best to moisture.
Lay the belly on a clean surface and apply a liberal dusting of the jerk rub to the white fatty side of the belly.
Next, spoon a even layer of the jerk marinade over the top of the belly.
Finally add another dusting of the jerk rub (not as heavy as the first application).
Off to the smoker!
*For oven bacon, place the pork belly on a wire rack and put the rack inside of a baking pan. Place the pan in a 225 degree preheated oven. Bake to an internal temperature of 150 degrees.
Back to the smoker-
If using a grill set it up for 2-zone grilling. Place the belly on the cool side and adjust your burners/add enough lit coals, to maintain a temperature between 225 and 235 degrees. Add two handfuls of wood ships or 2-3 wood chunks to your smoker box. Once your wood starts to produce smoke, continue to add wood once the smoke productions falls off. Do this for approximately 90 minutes (half the cook time) After 90 minutes let the pork continue in the smoker until it reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees (check it with a meat thermometer). At this point remove the bacon and allow it to cool.
After the bacon has cooled to room temperature, wrap the belly in plastic or place in a clean ziploc and place it in the fridge to chill. The belly will be easier to slice once it's cold
After the belly is sufficiently chilled remove it from the fridge and use a kitchen knife (or meat slicer) to slice the bacon to your desired thickness.
Now, all that's left to do is fry it and nyam (eat) it! Supermarket.., I don't think so!
So Jerkin' Good!