1 cup light or dark brown sugar (well which is it? I'm so confused!)
7 Tablespoons Kosher salt (the salt is Kosher, the belly is not)
2 teaspoons pink curing salt (get this at Butcher & Packer...called DQ curing salt - $3.50 for a pound, lasts forever - great for corned beef and pastrami)
2 Tablespoons course ground black pepper
Cut off rind (use rind to make chicharrón or a football) After rind removal, you will probably have about 12 lbs. of belly. Cut into 6 slabs, approx. 8 or 9 inch square.
OK, but do I just throw the bellies in the ice chest?
After 7-10 days (I've gone as short as 5
days), rinse thoroughly with
cold water and dry with paper towels. The rinsing and drying is
important. During the brining process the right amount of sugar
and salt has entered the meat. If you leave the brine on, it will
be much too salty. Put the slabs on racks and set in cold
air (fridge or garage if winter) for 2-3 hours. This allows proteins to
move to the surface and forms the
pellicle which helps the smoking
Smoke in electric “cold smoker”, 3-4 hours (2 pans of hickory sawdust, also from Butcher & Packer) should be enough. The temperature in a cold smoker only gets to 80-90 degrees so the bacon is still "raw" and needs to be refrigerated or wrapped and frozen. You can also smoke them in a "hot smoker" like your Weber kettle grill. Use a very low fire and indirect heat so the fat does not render out while smoking. They are done when the interior temp of the bacon reaches 140 degrees. At this point, they are "cooked" and can be eaten without further processing, or sliced and fried.
you must make it exactly as I have said. OK, you can jazz it up
but try to keep the ratio of salt and sugar the same. You can use
1 cup white sugar with 2 Tablespoons molasses (this makes "super dark
brown sugar") or honey or maple sugar. Trying to rub molasses or honey on to the slabs is a sticky mess. Add some fresh rosemary and thyme, see if I care. Here is a picture
of some honey/cayenne/black pepper bacon. All these extra flavors are
fine but by the time the bacon is smoked, they will be very subtle. Also, this bacon has a relatively high sugar content so fry it over low heat so it doesn't burn.