While I make bacon quite often I’m not usually very creative with it. If it’s good and works, why mess with it? However, a friend recently requested some Cajun spice bacon so I felt I needed to do a trial run in order to nail down a new technique. We we were running low on our previous slab of homemade bacon so the timing couldn’t have been better!
You may have noticed there’s a lot of charcuterie crafting going on here lately. This kind of seasonal limbo we’re in (tired of roasts and braises but too soon for lighter spring dishes and grilling) is a good time for me to have some fun working on my charcuterie skills. At one point over the past few weeks there was about 25 pounds of pork in the fridge at various stages of curing. I’m not quite sure what Cheryl thinks when she comes home from work, opens the fridge and sees trays of salted meat. Probably a combination of ‘what’s he up to now?’ and ‘it’s about time he made some bacon.’
Anyway, homemade bacon is ridiculously easy to make, all you need is some pork belly, salt, and seasonings. I add a little pink curing salt to the cure in order to give it the pinkish color you are used to, but it’s not necessary. And while smoked bacon is delicious, I find it’s much quicker and less messy to simply roast the cured belly in the oven at a low temperature. I’d even go so far as to say this is probably a preferred way to prepare bacon if you are making a more savory, herb seasoned bacon.
This Cajun spice bacon required a small adjustment to my technique. Normally, for my standard homemade savory bacon I cure the pork belly with salt and a lot of different herbs and seasonings. Here, I simplified the cure, using just salt, some garlic, and Cajun spice. On the finish I took cut off the rind off of the still-warm bacon and rubbed in more seasoning, giving it a nice even coating of Cajun spices. As you can see from the photo above, the coating stuck really well.
Taste-wise it’s great bacon. While the Cajun spices aren’t overpowering and there isn’t much heat, the flavors are there. Especially if you cut thick slices and give yourself more of the outer spice rubbed edge. It’s good change of pace and has me thinking I need to experiment a little more with my bacon.
Cajun Spice Bacon
- 4-5 lbs pork belly (skin on)
- 1 tsp curing salt (Pink salt #1, optional)
- 3 Tbs kosher salt
- 8 Tbs Cajun spice seasoning (4 for the cure and 4 for the finish)
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
Combine and mix 4 Tbs of Cajun spice with remaining ingredients. Rub onto both sides of pork belly. Place in plastic bag or in a pan, set in refrigerator for 7 days. Occasionally flip the pork belly over.
After 7 days, remove pork belly from bag or pan and rinse off cure under cold water.
Pre-heat oven to 200°F. If you have one, insert digital thermometer into pork belly and coast until internal temperature reaches 150°F.
Remove from oven. While the pork belly is still hot slice and peel the skin off. Dust each side with the remaining Cajun spices and rub in.
The bacon is ready for slicing and frying.