This Homemade Cured & Smoked Apple Pie Bacon is labor of love. A 7-day dry brine of sweet cinnamon apple and mouthwatering butter and pie flavors.
Two American staples combined? After tasting this recipe, you’d think that our Apple Pie rub was designed specifically for this. The brown sugar sweetness along with the cinnamon and clove notes come out so smooth and savory. Making bacon from scratch is a labor of love that, with this recipe, takes 8 days. I’ve always thought though, that the pride in making your own bacon with worth the wait, and the flavor… well, you’ll have to see for yourself. Here are some of the in’s and out’s.
Fresh good quality pork belly shouldn’t be too hard to find, but I would suggest working with a local butcher to get the best. Quality meat is going to make a huge difference in any dish you’re making. Bacon is no different.
Pork belly often comes with the skin off already. If the pork belly you get still has the skin, have no fear. Just remove it using a sharp knife. Make a cut separating the skin from the meat and continue to pull the skin back while angling the knife slightly toward the skin. Now, you can cut the skin into smaller pieces and deep fry them for homemade pork rinds!
For this I would also suggest getting the largest piece of pork belly that your smoker can handle. Bacon from scratch takes a long time and you’re going to want more. So take advantage of the effort and time you’re putting into it by making a lot.
Again we’re using our Apple Pie rub as the seasoning for our bacon. This rub itself is on the lower side of salty, so we are going to be adding some kosher salt to bump it up. Make sure to use kosher salt and not iodized or table salt. Iodized salt will be too “salty” and will overpower other flavors.
We also need pink salt, also known as pink cure or speed cure. These three seasonings are all you’re going to need to make a really well rounded flavor. Once combine with a good sweet wood used for smoking, your taste buds will be in hog heaven.
After combining the ingredients for the cure, apply them to the pork belly. This will be effectively dry brining the meat. We will not be adding any liquid to the seasoning which makes this a form of dry brining.
Once the pork is well seasoned, place the meat in a large ziplock bag and then into a baking dish. Place the meat in the fridge for 7 days. Over this time period, flip the meat every 24 hours to help ensure that all the brine evenly distributes into the meat. Liquid will seep out of the pork, this is part of the seasoning brining process.
After the 7 days of curing, remove the pork from the bag and rinse it well with cold water. At this point, anything you rinse off isn’t going to be absorbed anymore, so we have no use for it.
Place the pork belly on a wire rack lined sheet tray and place it back into the fridge for 24 hours. This process of drying out the surface of the bacon is forming what is called the pellicle. The pellicle is a tacky layer on top of the meat. It acts like a glue during the smoking process. The pellicle pulls smoke and flavor and helps it adhere and add even more flavor to the belly.
For our smoke, we chose to use a mix of applewood and hardwood, and it turned out great! Set the pork belly out at room temperature for 1 hour before smoking. This will even out the temperature of the meat before smoking. That way, there won’t be as much of a temperature difference when you put it in the smoker. From smoker temperature to skin temperature to internal temperature. We want this to cook as evenly as possible and this step will help.
We set the smoker for 200 degrees. Place the pork belly directly on the grates and smoke for 2-3 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees.
After it’s done smoking, we need to let the bacon rest and then chill. Let it rest for 30-60 minutes at room temperature and then place it in the fridge for at least 4 hours to fully chill before slicing and frying.
Slice the bacon with a shard knife as thin or thick as you like it. I prefer about ¼” slices, but up to 1/2” works well. Pan frying this bacon works really well if you like those little black burn spots. I like cooking bacon in the oven because it comes out the most evenly cooked, and I like it decently crispy.
Hopefully you can impress some friends or family members with this one. It is really a nice unique bacon that might even have them trying to guess you secrets.