Finer Things in Life – Cure Your Own Bacon (FTIL #5)

Famed celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse made career out of it; certain religions prohibit it; but at the end of the day, there is nothing better than the smell of thick-cut bacon frying on the stovetop Sunday morning.  A friend of mine, a former GM at a restaurant now turned PR agent, once gave me a recipe for curing your own bacon.  He swore by the superiority of home-made bacon over anything you can buy in any specialty store.  Initially I was little skeptical, but given my apartment’s vicinity to Chicago’s Fulton fish and meat markets where I can get relatively inexpensive grade A+ pork belly, thought I’d give it a shot.  As I found out, the process is relatively simple:

  • Start with 4 to 5 pounds of thick cut pork belly
  • Using a mortar and pestle, crush together a couple of table spoons of peppercorns and fennel seeds (licorice scent of fennel really adds to the mix)
  • Add a quarter cup of salt (John said to use kosher, I used Himalayan and it worked just fine…) and a quarter cup of something sugary (sugar, syrup or honey – I like to use Agave nectar)
  • Lastly, add some rosemary or thyme into the mixture (if you have fresh sprigs, great – if not dried seasoning out of bottles will also do) along with some garlic, either whole cloves or crushed

Rub the mixture liberally onto sliced pork belly.  Put them in a Ziploc bag and place in your fridge for a week or so.  Wash in cold water to remove all that salt and sugar then dry thoroughly.  Here is an important step – smoke or bake the pork for an hour at 225~250 degrees before frying them.  Home cured bacon, without all the preservatives and commercial brine, will last a few more days in your fridge.  The best part I believe – curing your own bacon could become part of your wonderful Sunday morning family tradition, not to mention knowing that you are feeding your family one less preserved food.


About Richard Lee
Experienced finance and operations professional. Currently partner in five companies, adjunct professor of economics at Columbia College and executive contributor to a small business blog (; following corporate finance, M&A and management consulting tenures with Orbitz and Diamond Technology Partners; and six years of service with the United States Army.

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