Bacon undergoes a two-step production process that takes it from the fresh pork belly you find at the meat counter to the smoky slices you fry at home. Both steps in bacon production — curing and cold smoking — require no special equipment other than a basic backyard grill. You don’t need the nitrates and nitrites you find packed in store-bought bacon, either; a basic salt-and-sugar brine is all you need to flavor the pork all the way through.
Things You'll Need
Rinse the pork belly and let it air dry on paper towels. Simmer 1-cup kosher salt and 1/2-cup sugar in 1 gallon of water until it dissolves.
Let the brine cool to room temperature. Transfer the brine to a food-storage container and submerge the pork belly in it. Cover the container and place it in the refrigerator.
Brine the pork belly for 48 hours. Take the pork from the brine and rinse it. Pat the pork dry with paper towels.
Place the pork belly on a plate lined with paper towels and let it air dry uncovered in the refrigerator until a grayish coating, or pellicle, forms on its surface, or for about 24 hours.
Fill an aluminum loaf pan with about 5 to 6 cups of hardwood dust and place it to one side of the charcoal tray in a barbecue grill. Light 5 charcoal briquettes in a chimney starter and let them burn until they ash over.
Transfer the coals to the tray of hardwood dust using tongs. Open the top and bottom vents.on the grill.
Place the pork belly fat-side-up on the cooking grid; place the pork near the hardwood tray, but not directly over it. If you’re smoking more than one piece of pork, space the pieces at least 1 inch apart.
Close the grill lid. Smoke should billow from the top grill vent vigorously after a few minutes; if not, add another briquette.
Place a metal-probe instant-read thermometer in the vent hole on the grill lid; the temperature inside the grill should measure between 80 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If the grill measures hotter then 120 F, open the lid for a few minutes until it dips to the desired range.
Stir the hardwood dust using tongs every hour; add about 1 cup of hardwood dust every 1 1/2 hours. Turn the pork belly 180 degrees on the cooking surface after 3 hours of smoking.
Smoke the pork until it turns light brown, about 6 hours. Let the bacon cool to room temperature and store it up to a week in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
Slice the bacon as needed and cook it to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you have a gas grill, disconnect the propane tank and set the tray of hardwood chips on the back corner of the cooking grate. Open the vents and smoke the bacon as you would in a charcoal grill.