Smokin’ Bacon

smoking pork 001

I might have mentioned in a previous post that hubby got a Bradley Smoker for his Father’s Day present back in June.  Well deserved, I might add.  One reason he got it was so that we could try smoking our own pork – hocks, bacon, etc.  but the pigs were still pretty small back in June, and in the meantime, it turned out to be very handy at our larger barbeque gatherings, since it is also an oven – not only did he cook the sausages in it for the barbeque we had on Labor Day weekend, but it is was also great entertainment, because most people thought it was a weird kind of beer fridge and kept opening it and getting a surprise.

labour day bbq and heron 062

See the guy looking inside the fridge…er, smoker?

I have to tell you, Bradley Smokers are like the microwaves of the smoker world.  You punch buttons on the digital face to set how long you’re smoking your meat, you can set the oven temperature if you want heat with the smoke, you drop a stack of little round wood chip pucks into the wood chip puck holder thingy, fill the bowl that sits inside with water (there’s a little tray at the bottom of the stack that moves the pucks along inside while they’re burning/smoking – they fall of the end of it into the little bowl of water and stop burning). That’s it.  No further involvement required from you, the cook.  On the other hand, you can sit and watch it if you like – it has a digital flame display to liven things up :).  The little pucks look remarkably like small rice cakes, and come in boxes that look much like cracker boxes, not helped by the fact that they also come in flavours – apple wood, cherry, hickory etc – I was tempted to leave them casually lying around at the barbeque, but hubby didn’t want them wasted…

smoking pork 004

the inner workings

I poke a lot of fun at this toy of his, but I shouldn’t, because I sure appreciate the wonderful things he’s produced so far:  smoked gouda, smoked cheddar, smoked salmon, salmon candy, and now –  smoked pork hocks and bacon!

Because, yes – our pork is ready at the processor.  We got some belly, a jowl and a couple of hocks fresh last week when they started the cutting, and brought them home to brine or cure ourselves prior to smoking them.  We followed the instructions in “Charcuterie” by Michael Ruhlman, our favourite choice from a wide selection of books on smoking and curing available from our library.

smoking pork 009

smoking bacon 002 smoking bacon 005

The pork hocks took about 3 and 4 hours (one was bigger than the other).  The bacon (belly and jowl)took about the same length of time, and he did it on a separate day. He had brined the pork hocks for a week, and the bacon was cured for a week.  We have cut the finished bacon slabs into 1 lb pieces to freeze, and look forward to doing a taste test when the bacon from the processor arrives tomorrow.    I don’t know if I can wait that long!

14 thoughts on “Smokin’ Bacon

  1. DM says:

    I don’t have a smoker right now. Used to have an older style when I was in my teens..I LOVE the taste of smoked chicken / turkey, etc. It sounds like this baby has taken the guess work out of smoking.. Your post has made my mouth start to water. Enjoyed your post. Thanks.DM

  2. That looks awesome. Hmmm. I have an old freezer…

  3. Bill says:

    OK I am jealous. I want a smoker too now and that one looks simple enough to operate that even I could do it. 🙂
    We’re getting our pork from the processor on Friday. I’m getting hungry thinking about it. Yours looks amazingly good.

  4. df says:

    I think those smokers look like the most amazing contraptions; not surprised to hear you raving about yours! And I am so deeply jealous of your gorgeous home-smoked pork delights. Twice-baked potatoes with bacon were on the menu this evening, and the idea of having our own home-smoked bacon is just too amazing to imagine. Lucky you – enjoy!!

    • Someday, you’ll definitely have to raise pigs – you’ve got the space, and just think what great tillers they’d be prepping your soil for all your veggies.
      MMMM – I LOVE twice baked potatoes. A little bacon on top – oh my. We tried some of our home smoked bacon today, and it was delicious.

      • df says:

        I’ve been meaning to come back again to say that I really take your encouragement to head in the direction of having pigs here. I think we’d love it it. I’m a bit change averse sometimes, as I was with the chickens and getting a dog, but realize that I usually end up loving this kind of change.

  5. Take your time, there’s no rush, after all. You’ve been doing house things, and garden things and you have a newish dog, and you’ve started homeschooling…you might be change averse for a reason, you know :). There will be pigs around to raise when you’re good and ready.

    • I meant to say before I hit send, that you could dip you toe in by finding a local farmer that will sell you pasture raised pork. Learn how to cook it (there’s a learning curve there), get the family used to the difference in texture, etc.

  6. I’m kicking myself for getting M one of those Brinkmann smokers now – the Bradley looks a whole lot more convenient to use.
    As to raising pigs – we can hardly wait to get out to the property fulltime so we can start raising our own, but like you recommended to df – we buy a half hog every year from a local farm (a different breed each time so we can try different flavors) and do our own charcuterie (guanciale, bacon, sausages, ham), render the lard for pie crusts, make pate with the liver, etc… The first time we actually picked the side of pork up whole and practiced our butchery skills. I thought I wouldn’t be able to stomach it, but I was wrong (thank goodness given our career choice!)

  7. The Brinkmann smokers look pretty cool – I had to google as I’d never heard of them. I let hubby do all the research for his smoker :). One of my girls is vegetarian but still helps me cut up all the chicken for our freezer – she says it’s not really a chicken at that point, so she feels no twinges – it’s more like a lab project (she’s a teenager!). I admit I feel much the same way about the pork. Without personality, skin, identifiable characteristics, the side just looks like – meat. Which I cut up all the time in the course of cooking for a family, so no problem. I think, from doing so many chickens ourselves, that if we were butchering our own pigs, I’d find the initial killing a bit traumatic, but I’d be over it in a few minutes. Regulations around meat being what they are, I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to test myself on that.

    • Funny – my step-daughter was vegetarian until we brought home that first pig. I think home smoked bacon is what changed her mind!
      Yeah – the killing part is M’s responsibility – we lined that one out day one, but if I had to do it, I’m sure I could step up. If I’m going to eat it, I should be able to handle that responsibility, but I secretly hope I don’t have to. Currently we just “harvest” our extra cockerels, (though we will probably need to start thinking about our older layers here soon – wah – they were my first hens and have names) but when we do it as a business, I’m going to have to be a little more involved in that aspect of it.

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