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Re-Smoking Bacon


Chad
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Here's an interesting little science experiment. I have a freezer full of pig. Really. At one of my son's baseball games this summer one of the moms leaned over and said, "Hey, Chad, you wanna buy a pig?" I said "Sure!" After all, how often do you get asked that question?

As it turns out, her boys raise pigs for the 4H competition at the state fair every year. They sell the pigs and have them processed. So I bought a pig. Actually half a pig -- but it did take a blue ribbon.

Anyway, I got a great pork shoulder, some gigantic, Flintstone sized pork chops, lots o' ribs, about 20 pounds of various sausages and lots and lots of bacon. Yay! Everything else has been chock full of porcine goodness, but the bacon is just plain boring. I don't think they cured it long enough or smoked it long enough. It tastes like pork, but not like bacon. Major bummer.

However, on the Cooking from Charcuterie thread someone mentioned that Ruhlman & Polcyn recommend hot smoking bacon and that you can hot smoke it after it has been cold smoked.

Ding! The little light goes on. Maybe I could resmoke my bacon. Worth a try, anyway.

So I had a free afternoon, some applewood chips and a willingness to experiment. I figure that even if everything goes wrong, I have a rack of grilled bacon and that can't be bad.

At the moment I have a pound of bacon and about half a pound of cured jowl on a roasting rack in my Weber. There's a big roasting pan of water underneath to act as a heat brake and a handful of hot coals and soaked applewood chips smoking away. I think I'm going to let it go until the bacon is actually cooked. I kept the temperature about 200 degrees for the first hour, now I've opened the vents and plan on letting it go for another 45 minutes to an hour.

Anyone ever tried this?

Oh, the bacon is going on what I hope to be my finest sandwich creation -- grilled pseudo-jerk chicken, applewood smoked bacon, homemade aioli, arugula and cherry tomatoes on freshly baked french rolls. Should be interesting.

I'll keep you posted.

Chad

Edited by Chad (log)

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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Oh now you're talking. Most bacon I get just does not have the smokey kick I love. Post a photo to that sandwich as well it sounds great too!

**************************************************

Ah, it's been way too long since I did a butt. - Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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One summers evening drunk to hell, I sat there nearly lifeless…Warren

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No photos yet. The family was getting out the rope and torches, so I decided that plating was the better part of valor.

In short, it worked. Damn well, too. The undersmoked bacon took to the second, hot, smoking extremely well. The jowls in particular were smokey, smokey, smokey. I think starting the bacon cold in cool smoke -- 200f air temp above the surface -- and having a big heat brake helped a lot. I don't recall where, but I do remember reading that meat only takes smoke up to the 140 degree (surface temp) point, so keeping the smoke cool for the first hour worked nicely. When we got closer to dinner, I took out the roasting pan of water (the heat brake) and placed the rack directly over the coals to finish the bacon. It crisped up nicely, though the dripping fat did cause some minor flareups.

The sandwiches were pretty amazing, though I don't think I'd bake fresh buns for them again. I used Peter Reinhart's pain anciene recipe, more or less, but the spicy jerk chicken, the smoked bacon and the homemade aioli overpowered the flavors of the bread to the point that a painstaking lean-dough bread was really a waste of time. A fun waste of time, yes, but kind of pointless nonetheless. Perhaps a tangy sourdough or asiago bread would have stood up a little better.

Next step: seeing if I can re-cure and re-smoke the several pounds of bacon and jowls I have left. That should be interesting.

Chad

edit: jowls NOT jowels. Argh.

Edited by Chad (log)

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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Most bacon is cold smoked. You'll end up with cooked bacon.

I'm with Brooks. I fail to see a downside to this endeavor.

Keep a pan under the bacon to save the drippin's, just in case.

FYI, Jack, I asked in the Charcuterie thread what was the actual difference. I hadn't seen a response before I lost track of the thread.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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My hypothesis throughout this endeavor was:

  • a cold-smoked yet boring bacon could be rescued by a second -- hot -- smoking
  • sliced bacon would require a significantly shorter smoking time than a whole belly
  • even if I screwed up completely, I'd still have a rack of grilled bacon, which would be pretty damn tasty no matter what

Each facet of my hypothesis proved out. The bacon took to the second smoking quite nicely. After the first hour I could easily have refrozen the bacon to be used later. I crisped a bit of bacon over the fire with my tongs as a quick test and it was significantly better/more smokey than it had been prior to going on the smoker/grill. I ended up finishing the bacon on the grill only because the oven was already in use.

I kept the smoker temperature about what I would for a pork shoulder -- 200f ambient temp above the meat -- for about an hour, which seemed to work nicely. At that point the bacon itself was in the 130-140f range, so I opened the vents to cook the bacon rather than smoke it. At the end, I removed the heat brake and place the smoking rack right on the grill grate for about 10 minutes (5 per side) to finish the bacon. It ended up a little darker and crisper than I intended, but damn tasty nonetheless.

The next part of the experiment will be to see if I can re-cure the bacon. This is a bit more iffy as the bacon has ostensibly already been cold smoked. But I think if I pack it in salt & curing spices for a week or so, it will be a tremendous improvement over what I have now.

Chad

edit: spellig

Edited by Chad (log)

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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