Maple Bacon

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • makes about

    3½ pounds

Appears in

The Bacon Bible

The Bacon Bible

By Peter Sherman and Stephanie Banyas

Published 2019

  • About

This is the bacon I make most often at home, because the store-bought kind never tastes enough like maple. If you’re going to call it maple bacon, it should taste like maple and mine does. The maple syrup makes this more of a wet cure. Try to find maple wood chips or chunks for smoking; if they’re not available, apple or cherry wood are also good here.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (180 g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 1 cup (145 g) pure maple sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pink curing salt (aka Instacure #1)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) maple syrup
  • 1 (5-pound/2.3-kg) pork belly, skin removed and saved for another use (see, step 2)
  • Soaked and drained maple wood chips or chunks

Method

Place the pork belly on a large rimmed sheet pan.

Combine the kosher salt, maple sugar, and pink salt in a medium bowl. Sprinkle the cure over the entire belly on both sides, rubbing in to make sure that the mixture penetrates the flesh. It will seem like a lot of salt, but that’s okay. You are curing the meat, not seasoning it, and it needs all of that salt.

Put the belly in a large zip-top bag, pour in the maple syrup, seal tightly, and place in a pan just big enough to fit it (and store in your refrigerator).

Cure the belly in the refrigerator for 8 days, turning it over daily to redistribute the liquid that will accumulate.

Drain the pork belly in a colander or large basin and rinse well with cold water. Blot it dry with paper towels. Place the belly on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet in the refrigerator or in a cool place in front of a fan (the goal is to create good airflow), and let it dry until the surface feels dry and tacky, at least 4 hours, or overnight.

Set up your smoker following the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat it to between 200 and 225°F (93 and 107°C). Add the wood chips or chunks to the coals. Lay the pork belly directly on the grill grate opposite the coals (indirect heat). Smoke the pork belly until bronzed with wood smoke and firm, 2 to 3 hours. The internal temperature should reach 155°F (68°C). (Insert an instant-read thermometer probe through the side of the bacon at one end.)

Transfer the bacon to a clean wire rack over a baking sheet and let it cool to room temperature. Tightly wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, ideally overnight.

To serve, thinly slice the bacon against the grain and cook in a skillet over medium-low heat until crisp. Bacon will last up to 1 week in the fridge; simply slice off pieces as needed.