Honey Pepper Bacon


My immediate family comes together every two years for a week-long family vacation.  We hangout, we fish, we go on little adventures.  But the biggest thing we do is cook.  And of course eat.  The whole clan sits around a big table over a shared meal made from scratch almost every night.  Sunday was my day to cook, and for breakfast I made home-cured honey pepper bacon, with scratch sourdough pancakes.  I spent the month of June curing the bacon just so I could share it at this gathering.  We are bacon-lovers, so I knew I’d have an appreciative audience.

I started with a 10lb side of pork belly from the half pastured hog we purchased from Snake River Farm Minnesota.  It took about a week to unthaw in the fridge from my -9 deep freeze.  I cured it with pomegranate honey my Dad sent me from Fresno, CA, along with lots of cracked black peppercorns, bay leaves, nutmeg and juniper berries.  The bacon cured in the fridge for a week.  Once cured, I hot smoked the bacon with apple and crab apple wood for about 3 hours.  The bacon turned out beautifully with a sweet salty tang and smokey peppery finish.  The juniper, bay and nutmeg gave it great depth.  The bacon cooked up to deep mahogany brown color due to all the honey and the unsaturated fat from the pastured pork, which browns at a lower temp.  I cooked three pounds of bacon and not a slice was left.  We’re gonna need more bacon.

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