Bacon Cured Using Percentages

This is the most accurate way of curing bacon and ensures that it’s always consistently seasoned and cured. For this preparation, you will need a scale.

Ingredients

  • 1 pork belly, preferably skin-on
  • Kosher salt
  • Brown sugar
  • Pink curing salt
  • Garlic cloves, smashed with the side of a chef’s knife
  • Whole black peppercorns, cracked beneath a saucepan
  • 1 bunch thyme

Method

Weigh the pork belly in grams and record its weight. Calculate 2 percent of that weight, and measure that weight in kosher salt. For example, if your belly weighs 2,000 grams (close to 4½ pounds), you’ll weigh out 40 grams salt, which is about 2⅔ tablespoons. Weigh out half the weight of the kosher salt in brown sugar (20 grams, or about 4 teaspoons, in the example above). Weigh out 0.25 percent of pink salt (5 grams in our example, or about 1 teaspoon). Combine the kosher salt, brown sugar, and pink salt and stir till it’s uniformly mixed.

Rub the mixture all over the pork belly. Put it in a 2-gallon/7.5-liter zip-top bag and add the remaining ingredients. Rub the ingredients around to distribute them. (If you don’t have a large enough bag, wrap the belly well in plastic wrap and put it on a rimmed baking sheet that will fit in your refrigerator.) Refrigerate the belly for 7 days, redistributing the seasoning two or three times during the week.

Remove the belly from the bag or plastic wrap. Rinse it thoroughly and pat it dry. Put it on a rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Place the sheet in your oven and turn the oven to 200°F/93°C. Remove the sheet when the meat reaches 150°F/65°C, 2 to 2½ hours.

Alternatively, you can hot-smoke the meat in a smoker. If you’re using a grill, set it up to smoke using wood chips and smoke on indirect heat for 1 hour, then finish it in a 200°F/93°C oven to 150°F/65°C.

If you have used skin-on belly, cut off the skin while it’s still warm and reserve it to use in soups, stews, and stocks. Allow the bacon to cool and then refrigerate, cutting slices or lardons as you need them. If you intend to freeze some or all of the bacon, slice or cut it into lardons before you do.