Homemade Walnut Smoked Bacon
This is an adventure. This recipe takes 3 days to prepare, but they are not labour intensive days and require only a little effort and some patience.
1 pork belly, about 7 pounds
For the Brine
3 ¾ cups water
3 cups Diamond Crystal kosher salt
¾ cups brown sugar
¾ cups honey
1 cup dark rum
6-8 cups walnut, or other hardwood sawdust
2 aluminum Loaf pans
Combine all the brine ingredients in a large plastic tub, and stir until dissolved. Place the pork belly in the brine and set a heavy dish on top of it to completely submerge the meat in the liquid. Set the tub in the fridge for 48 hours. Drain it well, set the pork belly on a wire rack and pat it dry with paper towels. Place it in a cool place, such as the fridge or inside a cold barbecue if the weather is cool enough, so that some air can circulate around the meat. Let dry in this way for about 6 hours.
Light 6 briquettes in a chimney starter until they are glowing red and covered with ash. Place about 2 ½ cups of sawdust in each pan and set them in the very bottom of the Broil King Keg. Using tongs, transfer the hot briquettes to the loaf pans. Set the grids on the Keg and place the prepared pork belly on the grids. Close the lid, and open the top and bottom vents to #4. Every hour or so, give the coals as stir in the pans, adding sawdust and more lit briquettes as needed to maintain smoke. The temperature should not rise above 120°F in order to maintain the texture of the bacon. Continue smoking the bacon for 5-6 hours. Wrap the slab of bacon tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate before slicing. Cook and use as you would any bacon.