Even though cows have bellies—and you can use a cut that is referred to as the navel—it is really hard to find for the home cook, so I use brisket. When smoking brisket, plan on shrinkage of about 30 percent. The pink salt and additional days of curing, in addition to the smoking, add a richness and concentrated beef flavor to the meat. It’s what separates this brisket from your Texas-style or Jewish holiday–style brisket, which are typically braised in stock in the oven until fork-tender.
Place the beef brisket on a rimmed sheet pan large enough to hold the entire brisket.
Combine the rub and pink salt in a medium bowl. Sprinkle the cure over the entire brisket on both sides, rubbing in to make sure that the mixture penetrates the flesh.
Wrap the brisket tightly in plastic wrap and place in a pan just big enough to fit it (and store in your refrigerator).
Cure the brisket in the refrigerator for 10 days, turning it over daily to redistribute the liquid that will accumulate.
Drain the brisket in a colander or large basin and rinse well with cold water. Blot it dry with paper towels. Place the brisket on a clean 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
Transfer the beef 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. Beef bacon is best when thinly sliced (see Note).
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