Home Cured, Home Smoked Bacon Loin.

Bacon loin (9 of 12)I should have got most of you with the fifth word “bacon”. It seems to excite such passions. How often have we heard “Everything tastes better with bacon” Sadly, I have bad news for most of you. Yes, you are labouring under a misconception. What you think is great bacon is not. It pales into insignificance next to this. I know, I have eaten both. Let me tell you why.

Let’s start with the meat. So many bacon recipes start with poor quality pork. If this was a horse race, your pony would be neighing in the stalls while my stallion “Beautiful Pork” would be approaching the finishing straight, cantering ahead of a tasteless over-salted field. To make good bacon, you need to start with good pork. This is rare breed, free range ethically grown, responsibly slaughtered meat. Trust me, it all makes a difference. A huge difference.

The other ingredients are really important too. Very often, the addition of lots of strong flavours is done to disguise the lack of flavour in the meat. Not here. My ingredients are really simple.

Ingredients for Home Cured, Home Smoked Bacon Loin

  • 2.6 kilos of rare breed, free range ethically grown, responsibly slaughtered pork loin.*
  • 80 grammes of curing salt (Ask your butcher for some. If he can’t supply, he is not a butcher).
  • 40 grammes of Muscovado sugar

*Before you Trump loving, cud chewing, rust belt American loons start ranting about bacon having to be from pork belly, you are wrong. But, in the same way as ‘The Donald’ stops off on his weekly trip to Florida to appease you with platitudes, I will appease you by preparing some from belly. It’s curing in the fridge as I type. I’ll post it in a couple of weeks.

First thing to do is to score the skin of the joint to allow flavours permeate the meat. I am in two minds on this one. Next time, I will remove the skin and we can compare.

Bacon loin (3 of 5)

The lovely soft fat sticks to the knife. This doesn’t happen with cheap, factory raised, poor quality pork.

Flip the joint over and trim off the parchment like stuff from the meat and bones. This will prevent the cure from impregnating the meat (snigger, you child, if you must).

Bacon loin (4 of 5)

This bit is important to do and should not be ignored.

Then, mix together the salt and sugar. The salt contains some sulphites that do two things. They act as a preservative and they give bacon its bacon colour. The colour is useful as one can be sure that the joint is cured all the way through. Rub the joint all over with the salt/sugar mixture. Massage it well into the flesh and joints.

Bacon loin (5 of 5)

I don’t have a massaging shot as I was using both hands and everybody else was out shopping.

Vacuum seal the pork (or wrap it in lots of cling film. Leave it in the fridge for a couple of weeks, turning it every other day. It will leech liquid. That’s a good thing. After 12 to 14 days, remove from the fridge, wash the meat well (In cold water only. Don’t use soap. You are going to eat this!). Dry it and admire your handiwork.

Bacon loin (2 of 12)

Some say drying the pork is really important to getting a good smoke. Some say it should be smoked wet.

The meat will have tensed up quite a bit. This is because the salt has permeated the meat and some chemical reactions have gone on, forcing water out.

Bacon loin

It looks good enough to eat. It is good enough to eat.

At this stage, you could carve, and use in the same way as one does with ordinary bacon. That is, fry it and use it to adorn a hamburger or such like. I preferred to hot smoke it, cooking it at the same time. So, into the fridge on a rack for 24 hours to allow a pellicle form. This is a vaguely tacky outer layer to which the smoke will attach. Into the smoker for as long as it takes to reach 150ºF (65º in real temperature).

Bacon loin in a Bradley smoker

Note the temperature probe. Without this, you would be guessing.

It took about three and a half hours to get up to temperature. That was three and a half hours of me running in and out to the shed like a racetrack loser running back and forth to the bookie’s window.

Smoked loin of bacon from a Bradley Smoker

Don’t you love the translucent fat? I think that’s what they mean when they say trans-fats…

Let the bacon rest for a couple of hours before carving it.

Bacon loin (7 of 12)

Rare breed pork makes for fantastic rare breed bacon.

You could eat it straight away. You could vacuum some for eating later, like I did.

Bacon loin (12 of 12)

My vac-pack made me feel all professional. The taste made me feel like an artist.

I had to fry some, as you do. I fried these on a dry pan. The bacon released plenty of fat and the dry fry gave a nice crispy edge too.

Bacon loin (10 of 12)

That’s not a small pan. They are big slices.

I served this with poached free range eggs, fresh brown bread and real Irish butter. It was truly fantastic.

Bacon loin

The best possible way to enjoy beautiful bacon. Admit it, you are just a bit jealous…

At the head of this post, I said you will probably never get to know just how great this can taste. For you that is a sadness. If you have any way of trying this delicious rare breed smoked bacon (apart from calling to my house), give it a go, I implore you. The bacon that is, not calling to my house.

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Latest comments
  • Best Bacon I ever had was in Newtonards, NI as a child

  • Phwoarrrr! I thought I’d achieved a personal bacon high point with my bourbon bacon jam. I am an abject amateur…. That looks EPIC!

  • Lovely slab of bacon, Mr B. I wholeheartedly concur on the benefits of using good pork. Home cured bacon is splendid stuff.

      • Yes, we’ve had a lot of innocent fun smoking and curing. As you know, getting pickled is Mrs Portly’s favourite hobby. Looking forward to seeing your belly, fnar.

  • Oh, that looks amazing and now I want bacon sandwiches and not soup for lunch. I haven’t tried hot smoking my bacon, but I think I will have to give it a go as yours looks so delicious. I also tend to cure for a few days to a week and then hang it for a few more weeks – I will try your method as well. I don’t use curing salt, just regular – do you notice a taste difference? Oh, just out of nerdy interest what breed of pig was it? I am going to scurry off and defrost some bacon now ……. dogs can have the soup.

      • I do tend to hang my meat in the cooler months – except the prosciutto which I hang all year round

  • Is it just me, Conor, or did you just issue an invitation to the entire internet to come over to your house for some home cured home smoked bacon loin? It’s hard to tell when you’re drowning in your own drool. Those shots are 100% food porn.

  • That looks fantastic – I bet it tastes amazing!

      • I never used to eat the fat, but I’ve grown quite partial to it as I got older, especially if it’s good quality.

          • They’ve done a complete U-turn on fat now – it might make you fat, but it’s not harmful in itself. With all your cycling, you should be fine 🙂

  • I’m on my way, thanks for the invite. And yes, everything does taste better with bacon. I’ll fight anyone who disagrees with me.

  • Oh, I’m drooling here, Conor. It looks absolutely divine. I miss good old fashioned bacon. I did mine differently, as you know – just regular salt (no nitrates) and cold smoke, so the end result is quite different. Delicious, but different. Your final shot with the fried slices and the runny eggs convinces me that I need to give this version a try! PS: where I live, this would not be called a loin – the loin would be the lean bit or “eye” of this piece, the rest being back fat and a bit of rib meat. So you might be satisfying your “overseas” critics without even knowing it! Yours in rare breed, free-range, locally reared pork, June.

      • Sounds delicious, Conor. Looking forward to seeing the results!

          • 😉

  • You’re right that my first inclination as an American is to think that bacon is always made from belly. I can tell from your photos (as well as a loin of wild boar bacon I have in my freezer) that this is not the case. The color on the inside after you hot smoked the bacon looked incredible. It also looks slightly leaner, which makes for a nice meatier texture. I’m interested how the skin turned out after smoking. I love crispy pork skin on things like Colombian/Puerto Rican Chicharron, but I haven’t been crazy about it on bacon I’ve tried with the skin still on after smoking.

  • Holy cow! (Or should I say pig?) I’ll be on the next flight, and I prefer decaffeinated green tea with my morning bacon thankyouverymuch.

  • Looks divine! Have made this using pork belly and really enjoyed it. I must try with a pork loin! Thanks for continuing to inspire!

  • You had me at “bacon,” but I have to say, as I read on, and as each picture was even better than the previous one, I felt I had to finish reading the post in private! Please have me over for breakfast!

  • Hurray for rare breed free range, ethically farmed and slaughtered pork. The answer to factory farming is not to stop eating pork, it’s to increase the demand and consumption of ethical farming and free range pork. Great recipe and message – which of course I agree with. Now to try and persuade the gang to set aside 1 loin for curing this way as opposed to a classic salt only dry cure.

  • Wow. Just. Wow. That is some sexy, sexy bacon! Even though I’m from across the pond, I know that more than just the belly of the beast can be baconized. 😉

      • Thanks — sometimes the actual English language just isn’t enough. 😉

        I would be VERY happy eating the breakfast you made with your proper Irish bacon and perfectly poached eggs.

  • Words fail me Conor. Bacon bliss indeed, you’re an inspiration. Congrats..

  • Really, you could’ve just written “Bacon. Bacon. Bacon.” and that would’ve been good enough, especially with the photos. 😉 Just kidding. You are absolutely right. I am so sick of folks waxing rhapsodic about bacon when they’re using disgusting product. It’s much the same here, where pork barbecue is king. And people go on and on about it, but you know that every place is using the cheapest pigs that led horrible, horrible lives. Thankfully, that’s starting to change a bit. And, yeah, that bacon looks grand.

  • Drooooooooool …

  • That smoked loin looks heavenly.

    Pastrami…. smoked and then sous vide? Would love to see a recipe!

  • Great post, Conor! I know how good home cured pork and home smoked other things taste, so I can interpolate a bit to imagine what this must be like. Divine is the word that comes to mind. I don’t have the equipment to smoke this way, but I could produce something similar. Looks like I should.
    Great to see the temperature probe gets some use.
    Funny thing is that a very similar preparation (but cold smoked rather than warm) is what you will get if you ask a Dutch butcher for “bacon”. For some reason, the pork belly version is called “ontbijtspek” (ontbijt=breakfast, spek=layer of fat).

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