How to Make Your Own Bacon

It’s Day 9 of our 10-Day Tour and we’re still in Sydney.  A few suburbs away from Tania (where we were yesterday) is Lorraine, Australia’s Uber-Blogger from Not Quite Nigella.

You can make your own bacon!

You can make your own bacon!

When I first started blogging I was a little bit lonely because I didn’t yet have any cyber-friends and the only person commenting on (and reading) my blog was my long-suffering husband.  I thought there must be some other bloggers out there so I googled things like ‘Australia’s best bloggers’ and, ‘Top Sydney bloggers’ and the same blog name kept showing up.  I decided to visit Not Quite Nigella and after reading her post, left her a comment.  Before the close of business she’d visited me and left a comment on my little space.  I had a cyber-contact!

The process begins

The process begins

Years ago I had a friend who was modelling and it was around the time Elle Macpherson was continually on the cover of the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated.  I congratulated my friend on how well she was going with her modelling and she just shrugged and said, ‘I’m just a model, not an uber-model like Elle’.

Spice rub mix

Spice rub mix

And I think that’s how we can sometimes feel when we work in the same field as someone who has achieved so much more success.  When I was invited to a lunch where I would be meeting Lorraine for the first time, I thought, ‘I’m going to tell her how much I admire her for all she’s achieved in a very new industry’, but before I could even do that, she gave me a hug and said, ‘I really love your writing’.  She out-ubered me and got in first with a compliment.  And that’s exactly how Lorraine is.  She’s very warm and friendly and genuinely interested in all her readers and followers.

Spice mix rubbed into the belly

Spice mix rubbed into the belly

Lorraine’s blog is full of variety so you can never predict what post will be in your in-box first thing every morning.  There’s travel to luxury destinations mixed with travel to remote parts of the world, there’s comforting home cooking mixed with quirky, strange and surprising creations like the armadillo road kill cake, there’s reviews of five-star restaurants frequented by the rich and fabulous mixed with fish and chips from the local suburban store.  And then there’s the stories of vegan cabbage-loving in-laws mixing with Lorraine’s quiet and conservative parents all enjoying time spent with Lorraine’s famous friends, Queen Viv, Buxom Wench and Miss America.  And it’s all woven together around food.

Ready for the fridge

Ready for the fridge

At the beginning of this year, Lorraine shared a post where she made bacon.  I was intrigued.  It had never occurred to me that I could make my own bacon.  I really wanted to give it a try and this series has forced me to once again, get out of my comfort zone and try something new.

Washing off the salt

Washing off the salt

Making bacon isn’t difficult but it’s not something you can whip up in an afternoon.  The process begins more than a week before you’ll see your first slice of bacon.  In an obscure way, it reminded me of making Christmas cakes where first you soak the fruit for a period of days, then you make the cake, then you let it mature, then you finely decorate it.  Making bacon involves processes just like Christmas cakes!

Rubbed with liquid smoke and getting ready to 'smoke' for 90 or so minutes

Rubbed with liquid smoke and getting ready to ‘smoke’ for 90 or so minutes

When I went to buy the pork belly, my butcher sold it to me with the rib bones still in place.  He told me that years ago all bacon was made that way but today, the ribs are too highly-prized and so are removed and sold.  He told me the bones would be easy to remove after the smoking process and that all the meat around them would form part of the bacon.

Hickory sawdust mixed with grains of rice

Hickory sawdust mixed with grains of rice

The belly he sold me had had the rind scored.  I think it would be better to buy a belly where the rind had been left alone as that would make it easier to cut neat, thin slices once the bacon is ready to enjoy.

In Lorraine’s post, she lists three different methods for smoking the bacon being in the barbecue, in a wok-type container on the stove and placing it on a tray in the oven.  I’m currently minus a barbecue, my pork belly was too long for my wok and so I had no choice but to smoke mine in the oven which I think is the least authentic of the smoking methods.

You can make your own bacon

You can make your own bacon

I was a bit nervous with the smoking process and had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t cooking the bacon, I was smoking it.  It seemed very strange to have the oven on such a low temperature and I really wasn’t too sure how hot the oven was.  It would have been a good idea to have bought one of those internal thermometers but I realised that too late.

I’ve enjoyed ‘makin’ bacon’ and hope you will give it a try one day too.  This seriously will be the best bacon you’ll ever eat.

5.0 from 5 reviews
How to Make Bacon
Author: 
Recipe type: How to Make
Cuisine: Australian/American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: Many
 
How to make your very own smoked bacon.
Ingredients
  • 1.5 - 1.7kg pork belly, rind on or off
  • 100gms (6 tbspns) salt
  • 75gms (2/3 cup) brown sugar or 75mls maple syrup (1/3 cup)
  • 4 bay leaves, torn
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • Liquid smoke
  • 2 cups hickory sawdust chips (if smoking in a bbq or wok)
  • ⅔ cup uncooked rice (if smoking in a bbq or wok)
Instructions
  1. Mix all the spice rub ingredients together. Massage the spices into both sides of the pork belly and wrap in cling wrap and then place in a large ziplock bag.
  2. Place the pork belly sitting flat in the fridge. The bacon will release liquid so make sure the zip lock is shut tight or place on a tray. Turn over once a day for 7-10 days.
  3. On the day you want to smoke it, remove it from the fridge and take it out of the bag. Wash the salt and spices off well and then soak it in water for two hours to draw out more of the salt.
  4. Pat dry with paper towels and place on a rack in the fridge uncovered just until you are ready.
  5. Oven Method:
  6. Preheat oven to 93C/200F oven and brush the pork belly lightly with liquid smoke. Place on a baking dish and cook for 75-90 minutes or longer until the internal temperature reaches 60C/140F.
  7. Remove from oven and cool. To make it easier to cut, place in fridge until it firms up. Then using the sharpest knife you have, slice into rashers.
  8. BBQ Method:
  9. Light coals using briquettes. Open the vents and once the coals are glowing and covered in grey ash, place the sawdust and rice in a foil or metal container in the coals.
  10. Wok Method:
  11. Place the foil on the bottom of the wok or pot. Scatter the sawdust and rice at the bottom. You can make a little tray out of foil. Heat the sawdust until fragrant and you get some smoke - this can take some time but soon enough, you'll smell the hickory coming through.
  12. Place the pork belly on the rack ensuring that the pork doesn't touch the sawdust and that there is airflow around the pork belly. Put the lid on and turn the heat down to low. The idea is to not cook the bacon but just to smoke it and the rice helps knock back the heat a bit. Do not remove the lid no matter how tempting. The outside might change colour but if you keep it low while still smoking then the inside should be pink still.
  13. After 1.5 hours check on the internal temperature. You need it to reach 60C/140F and when it does YOU HAVE BACON!

To follow Lorraine, you can find her at Not Quite Nigella and you can also follow her on Instagram.

Makin' Bacon

Makin’ Bacon

Tomorrow it’s the last day in the series and we’re celebrating with a sparkle!

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Comments

  1. I agree with you about Lorraine’s warmth and her fascinating blog. It has been a joy to read it over the years though I haven’t met her face to face. Maybe one day. Strangely enough I am attracted to her fascination for bacon – though I am vegetarian I do love ‘fakin’ bacon and trying it out in all sorts of dishes. My memories of bacon from years ago are not great but I am sure if you are going to eat it, this is the way to do it. Great effort! (And I have an oven thermometer but haven’t been using it lately as I still get unsure about my oven temperature even with using it)

  2. It is so great being pushed out of your comfort zone. Pre blogging I once made breasola (air dried beef) which took a few weeks…it was loads of fun.

  3. G’day! First of all, congrats on making your own bacon Charlie and great Pay It Forward posts; as I think personally this is what blogging is all about…supporting each other…
    I can’t WAIT to meet Lorraine as she to me is inspiration as can be and indirectly is responsible (in her support and friendship)….What’s On The List we all get to see!
    Well done making bacon and please don’t think me weird when I say….I can almost smell it from here! 🙂 Cheers! Joanne

  4. Wow this is a wonderful effort! 😀
    Lorraine is amazing, she is one of my favourite bloggers, there is so much zest for life when she writes!
    Your bacon looks amazing, I didn’t even realise making your own bacon was an option – I would love to try it for my brother!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  5. Your tutorial for making homemade bacon is clear, easy to follow and understand, now I want to give it a try. Finding pork belly where I live is not easy but I will keep trying.
    Hopping over to visit Lorraine’s blog.

  6. It’s so worth it making it yourself isn’t? But smoking? That’s way too far out of my comfort zone so I applaud your effort. I’m enjoying these posts so much Charlie what a great idea to pay it forward x

  7. This is soooooo cool! And I love Lorraine’s blog too!
    Just to let you know I feel the exact same way about you and how you always comment on my blogs and love on me with your generous help and time! AND I am so loving this series… I wish it didn’t have to end! Liz x

  8. Hi Charlie, really loving this “travel series” of yours, my husband would go crazy for this. The step by step instruction are very concise, great post!

  9. Dearest Charlie, I just hopped onto your blog and wa blown away by your kind and lovely words. Honestly I’m sure everyone in this little cafe in Mallorca is probably wondering why someone is grinning like mad (ok nobody is looking at me but u know what I mean hopefully). So glad that you made and loved the bacon! Thank you for sharing it! Xxx

  10. When she posted that bacon I said out loud that I was going to make some American bacon and slice it as thin as I wanted. Have I done it? No. You have. You two are my heroes. I’m trying to feel bad for Lorraine stuck in a little cafe in Myorka. Swoon.

  11. I am a huge fan of Lorraine’s blog – and I gladly recall it was through hers that I stumbled on yours! I remember that armadillo road kill cake quite well – that sure was a work of art! Charlie – I’ve never smoked bacon before and I gotta give you kudos – look at that coloring!

  12. I’m kind of in awe. YOU MADE YOUR OWN BACON. That is crazy/awesome.

  13. You continue to impress me with your innovative (at least in my opinion) cooking. Who makes bacon except the guys at a meat locker? And you and Lorraine. Well done and it does look mighty tasty.

    I love this networking of bloggers. Like Lorraine, I totally love your blog. You have this signature storytelling style that is honest and humorous and simply entertaining. You have taught me much about food I will never taste and places I will never travel. And your family stories remind me that family life is the best, even if it’s sometimes challenging.

  14. You amaze me yet again, Charlie. I seem to be getting lazier re cooking with the years, and you just tackle more and more!

  15. Making your own bacon? Like many of the others, I never would have thought it possible to do at home. I bet it tasted fabulous.

  16. Yes, I love Lorraine’s blog too Charlie – I was reading it before I started blogging and since I have started blogging she has been so generous. I too have got this bacon recipe tucked away to try – hopefully one day soon:)

  17. I have never even considered making bacon, and probably didn’t think it was even possible with typical home equipment. I’m really intrigued. I’m wondering if this would be a good project for a traditional backyard smoker! My son-in-law is just getting into that and has smoked a few roasts and some chicken. I’m going to give him this recipe and see if he’s willing to tackle it. He is a man who likes his bacon! 🙂

  18. This is such a lovely tribute to Lorraine, Charlie, love it! And your bacon looks yummy! Well done gal xox

  19. You have such lovely blogger friends in Australia! And I think I’ve “met” many of them through you. I’m in awe that you made bacon…I’m going to have to give this a shot. It’s actually something Bill WILL eat 🙂

  20. Great looking bacon there.

  21. Wow! I would never thought to make my own bacon, but you and Lorraine peaked my curiosity to give it a try. I bet it tastes out of this world! I will be visiting Lorraine’s blog. Thank you!

  22. Lorraine was the very first person to comment on my blog too Charlie, I was soooo excited! I love the warmth and generosity of the spirit behind these posts, thanks for sharing the love 🙂
    I have made my own lamb belly bacon and it was delicious, I’ll definitely have to tackle this one next- yummo! Xox

  23. I’m so impressed! Making your own bacon! I also had never thought to make bacon. You’re right, it’s like the holiday baking of cakes and infused liquors that I require weeks to be fully ready to give. Charlie, you’re so kind in your thoughtfulness to others; recognizing their talents and personalities. I’ve enjoyed reading these posts and learning so much more about these other bloggers.

  24. absolutely fabulous that you made your own bacon. yes lorraine was my first commenter too on my newbie blog last year. she is so kind; and thank you charlie for visiting it too.:)
    it never ever occurred to me either that we at home could make bacon. one day i will get the courage as it seems daunting.

  25. this had been on my list for a while but its such a daunting task i need to have enough days off to prepare myself for this!

  26. I’m yet to make my own bacon but can vouch for the fact that Lorraine is the loveliest ‘uber blogger’ about 🙂

  27. Aww..sweet Lorraine! That bacon’s looking so good I want it now, Charlie!

    Gourmet Getaways

  28. I enjoyed reading your story about how you met Lorraine. The way you described about her is how I felt even I haven’t met her in person. Despite her busy posting schedule (again you wrote very well about her wide range of posts – it’s always a fun surprise to receive her email) and cooking and photo shooting, she spends time reading others blog. Knowing how popular she is, she must visit a lot of blogs too. I remember her post on bacon. Wow you did it, Charlie! It looks amazing! Great job! I want to taste my own smoked bacon, but I’d need to mentally prepare for the day to work on it. 😀

  29. I never knew you could make your own bacon! I think I had a similar experience with Lorraine. Not long after I started blogging I was in Sydney and I emailed her to see if we could meet. She was just so lovely and we went to Flour and Stone and ate nearly everything in sight. It was the best morning!

  30. That looks great and I remember seeing the recipe and thinking I wanted to give it a try! I have a similar story about Lorraine: although I do not know her in person, she was one of the first people (her, the uber blogger, of all people!) who left a comment and started reading my little blog after I left her a comment amidst the hundreds she receives daily, and who still reads me to this day! She really is a wonderful, warm inspiring person.

  31. Wow that looks so yummy 🙂

  32. Lorraine really does good stuff. Like this bacon! I’ve never made bacon, and really should sometime. Your version is outstanding! Love the pictures — thanks.

  33. LOVE IT!!! So freakin cool Charlie. And yes, Lorraine’s blog is amazing, so inspiring. 🙂 I get such a buzz when I see a comment from Lorraine, often I think…. Wow, someone so cool is commenting on my blog. 🙂 BUT…. I feel much the same about you too Charlie, I’m grateful that you visit my blog, and leave thoughtful comments too. So thank you, thank you for giving back to our community. You rock! Love this series, sad it is ending. Hope you are well! xox

  34. This is great! It looks devine. Lorraine comes up with some fun stuff – bring on the Halloween posts.

  35. Ahh yes, bacon actually isn’t that bad and it tastes marvelously! Actually bacon has quite good nutritional values for humans. It is the processed fats, some vegetable fats that have those trans-fatty acids, that harm our body, not the occasional bacon beaky! Helen

  36. Fascinating! I have never even thought to do it but love that you’ve showed us how.

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