Top Picks

Making Whisky-Cured Bacon


There comes a point in a man’s life where he has to make a decision. A decision that once made, can never be taken back. A decision that will change him forever. That decision is, to try and make his own bacon.

I have been meaning to do this for some time, but the planets finally aligned recently and I had a great piece of farm-bought, pork belly roast in the fridge just calling out in a piggy voice ‘Make me into sumptuous home-made bacon, oink!’ Who was I to deny the post-mortem wishes of a piece of porcine perfection? So at that moment, I had the equally great idea to not only make bacon, but to make ‘whisky-cured’ bacon!

Bacon is a meat product, sourced from fatty cuts of a pig, typically the pork belly. It is usually preserved through curing with salt, either in a dry rub or liquid brine. After curing, the bacon is typically dried, baked, boiled or smoked, before being fried to eat. Hmmmm...Bacon.

I wanted something smoky naturally, but not medicinal or industrial tasting like a Laphroaig or Ledaig. 

Having never made bacon before, I bought myself a DIY bacon kit. But now seeing that the kit contained two plastic zip-lock bags, a small jar of curing salt (ordinary table salt with a small amount of Sodium Nitrite) a small jar of sugar (ordinary) and a pair of single-use meat thermometers, I’m pretty sure I can go it alone next time. You can use ordinary salt to make your bacon but it will go a nasty grey colour. The small amount of Sodium Nitrite means the bacon keeps that nice pink colour.

The next step was to choose a whisky. I wanted something smoky naturally, but not medicinal or industrial tasting like a Laphroaig or Ledaig. I also didn’t want to go nuts using something like an Octomore. I decided on a Talisker 10 Year Old, pleasantly smoky and with an obvious peppery finish; a perfect match for salty bacon.

What I started with

  • Large zip-lock bag;
  • 1.5kg pork belly roast (ribs removed, skin on);
  • 25g of curing salt;
  • 20g of ordinary sugar + 60g brown sugar; and
  • 100ml of Talisker 10 Year Old whisky.

How it is made

That’s it, not much to it really. First I placed the meat in the zip-lock bag, then I spooned the whisky over the meat. Next, I rubbed the salt into the meat and then the sugar. Lastly, I wrapped up the bag around the meat, trying to keep it in contact with the liquid, held it in place with some rubber bands and put it in a plastic tray in the fridge. I have to say, it smelt amazing even at this ‘raw’ stage.

Just like making a good whisky, making bacon takes time; seven days to be precise. You need to turn the bacon, once a day for seven days and then it is ready to finish off. I chose to finish my bacon by smoking over hot coals with a mix of apple wood chunks and mesquite chips. I used a trusty charcoal Webber for this and prepped it how I would any low-and-slow smoke. Make sure the meat is offset from the hot coals so that it isn’t cooked by radiant heat. You may need to use an aluminium foil shield to protect the meat. The target smoking temperature is 125˚C. You need to smoke the bacon for long enough to reach an internal temperature of 155˚F (about 68˚C). The single-use meat thermometers are designed to pop out when the meat reaches this temperature but you can use a digital thermometer – I used both.

The meat smoked away and the only thing I had to do was check the temperature periodically and add more smoking wood if required. My bacon smoked for 2.5 hours before it hit the desired internal temperature. I then removed it from the Webber and allowed it to rest.

When it had cooled, I sliced it into rashers and it was good for frying.

But how did it taste?

It almost dissolved as I ate it and I could feel my arteries squeezing in approval. 

There is nothing quite like tasting your own bacon.

I’m not sure if it was the best bacon I have ever tasted in my life (it was certainly up there) but I enjoyed eating it like no other bacon before. It was smoky and sweet, but not too sweet, a little salty and buttery in the mouth. It almost dissolved as I ate it and I could feel my arteries squeezing in approval. Needless to say, I consumed pretty much all of it within 24 hours.

What about the whisky?

Oh yeah, the whisky. I am not sure exactly how much flavour the whisky imparted on the bacon. I’m sure there was some, but I think it may have been overshadowed by the wood smoke. Next time I will make some without smoking it and I expect more of the whisky flavour to show through.

So there you go, scratch that one off my Bucket List. I have now made my own bacon and it was good. Hmmmm...Bacon.


0 Response to "Making Whisky-Cured Bacon"

Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger.