Makes 5 pounds.
Note: Joe Pupel starts this process a week prior to the day he intends to smoke the bacon.
• 5 lb. pork belly, boneless, skin removed
• 5 tbsp. Morton Tender Quick curing salt, divided
• 1/2 c. black pepper, divided
• 1/4 c. bay leaves, ground, divided
• 3 c. brown sugar, divided
• 2 c. kosher salt, divided
• 1 large Honeycrisp apple
• 1 1/2 c. pure maple syrup
One week before you intend to cook, place the pork belly meat side down and sprinkle with half of the curing salt. Using protective gloves, massage the salt into the pork belly. Sprinkle a thin layer of half of the black pepper and half of the bay leaves over the belly, followed by half of the brown sugar and half of the kosher salt. Massage seasonings into the meat until packed on well.
Flip belly and repeat the process on the other side with the remaining half of the seasonings. Wrap well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 5 days.
Prepare the marinade by puréeing the apple and maple syrup in a blender, then simmer over low heat for 90 minutes. Rinse the pork belly clean of all seasonings, then add the pork belly to the marinade in a large plastic bag and return to refrigerator for 2 days.
Rinse pork thoroughly and smoke over a low heat (160 to 200 degrees) for 2 to 5 hours, until the bacon is fork tender. Slice, fry and serve.
Nutrition information per 1 ounce: