First I want to thank HCT, for posting the instructions on how to make triple smoked bacon. I modified the instructions for use with the Bradley smoker, and the following is the results of my third trial. The hardest part in making this bacon is scheduling the time to put into it, and hoping that the weather will cooperate. I can’t stress enough the importance of planning ahead, to ensure you have the time to monitor this project, and to protect the smoker form the elements, in case the weather does not cooperate.
The goal is to apply at least 3 hours of smoke per day (nine bisquettes), and keep the bacon in the smoker for most of the time at temperatures between 70 to 90 degrees F. This will reduce the moisture of the bacon, and give it a rich smoke flavour. The flavour of the bacon concentrates, and the fat becomes very firm. You can use the bacon cure recipe included, or use your favorite. I prefer a cure with a high sugar content. It seems to give the bacon a more pronounced flavour, and since there in no need for further cooking you don’t have to worry about the sugar burning during frying.
While doing some research, I couldn’t find that much information on triple smoked bacon. Most of my other information was obtained from blogs, and retailers that sell triple smoked. But most hits were for use in recipes and menus. Like most foods, there seems to be no particular authentic way to make it. Some sold it fully cooked, some had it fully dry cured and did not require refrigeration, while others were had just been cold smoked which needed to be refrigerated and further cooking before serving.
- Pork Belly (amount depend on how much you want to make)
- “Basic Dry Cure” 1 Tbsp per pound
- Sugar; 1 Tbsp per pound
- You will need to start with some cured pork bellies. You can use your favorite cure, or use the above recipe. Another possibility is to purchase commercial un-smoked slab bacon and triple smoke it. I have never done it that way, but I don’t see why it would not work.
- Don’t be afraid to add your own spices and/or herbs.
- For triple smoked bacon I prefer to skin (remove rind) prior to curing. It requires a little more work, and it’s not easy, but I feel the end result is worth it.
- After measuring out the appropriate amount of Basic Dry Cure, and sugar, place in bowl and mix well.
I did this solely because I didn’t want any other flavours added, but if you have a favorite cure go ahead and use that instead.
- Evenly coat the belly with the cure mixture on all sides of the meat, pressing the cure into the belly to ensure that it adheres.
- Place the belly in a 2-gallon Ziploc bag. Expel as much air as possible, close bag and place in a refrigerator, and cure for 7-9 days.
- Everyday you will need to shake it gently to redistribute the cure liquid, and turn the bag over. This is called “overhauling”.
During curing the belly will give off some liquid. Do not pour this liquid off; it is important that this curing liquid remain in close contact with the belly during the full curing time.
- After 7 days check the belly for firmness, if it is firm in all areas; especially the thickest points, it is fully cured. If it feels soft in some areas, refrigerate 1-2 days longer.
Since this was going to be left unrefrigerated for at least three days, I decided to cure it for 9 days instead of the recommended 7 days (although I don’t think this is necessary).
- When belly is fully cured, remove from the Ziploc bag, rinse thoroughly under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Also thoroughly rinse out the Ziploc bag. After the belly has been rinsed and dried with paper towels, place it back into the Ziploc bag and return to the refrigerator for at least one day and up to 3, to rest.
When any cured meat is removed for its cure or brine, the heaviest concentration is still located at the surface of the meat. This resting period allows the cure to equally redistribute itself.
- Remove belly from the refrigerator, while the belly is on the counter prepare your smoker. I find using the “cold smoking setup” is the only way to achieve the low temperatures that are required. Preheat the smoker to 90-100 °F, and also preheat your generator at this time.
- Place the belly in the cabinet and to air dried bacon until the pellicle has developed (surface should be tacky to the touch).
- Once the pellicle has formed reduced the temperature to 80 °F.
- Cold Smoke Setup: can also be made using a card board box. Cut a rectangular hole in the side of the box large enough to allow the bisquette burner to fit through. Make sure that the hole is large enough that no part of the bisquette burner touches the cardboard; this part of the smoke generator gets quite hot. Next cut a circular hole in top of the box for the flexible dryer vent to fit in (use the pictures in the provided link above as a guide to assemble your Cold Smoke Setup). Don’t forget to place the water bowl inside the box to catch and extinguish the burnt bisquettes. When using a cardboard box for a cold smoke setup, never leave it unattended while the smoke generator is on.
- Bellies should be placed so that it is in the middle of the smoker, if you have more then one rack, use the upper racks before using the one closest to the heating element. Also for more even drying; rotate the rack(s) front to back, and top to bottom every 4 hours. If you are leaving the bacon in the smoker for the full time, you don’t have to rotate during the night. Just start rotating again the following day.
- After the pellicle has been formed, keep the smoker cabinet between 70-90 °F, and apply 3 hours of smoke (don’t forget to preheat the generator before adding the bisquettes). I use apple, maple or pecan. If you would like a stronger smoke flavour you can use hickory.
- After applying the smoke, ideally you should leave it in the smoker at 70-90 °F, until you apply the second and third applications of smoke, but if that is not practical you can remove it from the smoker and allow it to sit at room temperature. Make sure the belly is on a wire rack so that air can circulate underneath it.
- Follow steps 4 and 5 of day one.
- Follow step 4 of day one.
- After applying the smoke, increase cabinet temperature up to 180 °F, and cook until the belly reaches an internal temperature of 150-155 °F.
- If you don’t want to fully cook the bacon, increase the cabinet temperature to 170 °F, and bring the bacon up to 137 °F. At this temperature it is not safe to eat, and it will require further cooking. You should treat it as regular cured bacon.
- Remove from smoker and allow to cool. At this point the bacon is fully cooked, and you can slice and eat as is. Or you can fry it at a low temperature; it will not shrink as much as regular cured bacon.
- Leave belly whole, and slice off only what you intend to use. Refrigerator or freeze for longer storage.
- You can use triple smoked bacon as you would use regular bacon. It gives added flavour to BLTs, bacon hamburgers, dice and add to a salad, or use as is for a side dish, and works great in baked bean dishes.
- Because of the bacon’s firmness, using a sturdy chef’s knife works best for slicing.
- By fully cooking it, you can eat it as is, or further cook it if you wish. Fully cooking may render some fat at the thinner areas of the slab, but I was satisfied with the final out come.
- The more time in the smoker at 70-90 degrees F for air drying, the better the end product will be.
- The selection of the slab is important. Try triple smoking the thicker part of the slab for best results. More meat does not mean a better product. For me the fat tastes better, and has the best texture (I need to keep that information away from my doctor).
- If you don’t have a full cabinet, when ever possible, plan to cold smoke other foods during the smoking period; such as nuts, cheeses, vegetables etc.
Comment by Habanero Smoker: I’m not sure if this is what one would call triple smoked bacon, but it sure comes out good using this procedure. I have made triple smoked bacon three times so far, and it is the best smoked bacon I have ever made. If you have the time, it is worth the effort.