Jerk 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

One of the oldest recipes I have is a jerk spice recipe. I got it from a woman I used to work with, and have cherished it ever since. It was obviously meant for chicken, but on pork belly it really is something special. Pork, like chicken, can take on a lot of flavor, but unlike chicken, the pork belly won’t dry out. And, because you are smoking the meat at a low temperature, the spices in the dry rub won’t burn like they would on chicken grilled over fire.

Ingredients

  • 2 recipes Jerk Rub
  • 2 teaspoons pink curing salt (aka Instacure #1)
  • 2 heads garlic, roasted
  • 2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large Spanish onion, cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) slices, grilled until very dark and burnt
  • ½ cup (120 ml) fresh lime juice (from about 7 limes)
  • 3 habanero peppers, stems removed
  • 3 quarts (2.8 L) cold water
  • 1 (5-pound/2.3-kg) pork belly, skin removed and saved for another use (see, step 2)
  • Soaked and drained apple, hickory, or cherry wood chips or chunks, or pellets or sawdust (amount recommended by your smoker manufacturer)

Method

Combine half of the rub with the pink salt, garlic, celery, onion, lime juice, habaneros, and 1 cup (240 ml) of the cold water in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Transfer the mixture to a large food-safe container with a tight-fitting lid, add the remaining water, and mix to combine. Add the pork belly and make sure it stays submerged. I use a plastic container filled with cans to weigh it down.

Cure the belly in the refrigerator for 8 days.

Drain the pork belly in a colander or large basin and rinse well with cold water. Blot it dry with paper towels.

Sprinkle the rub over the entire belly on both sides, rubbing in to make sure that the mixture penetrates the flesh. (You will not need to use all of it to coat the belly, but it should be fully coated; put any leftover rub in a container with a tight-fitting lid and store in a dark, cool place, where it will keep for up to 6 months.)

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, for 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.