If you’ve ever had corn cob smoked bacon you know that it has the best flavor. It’s the old fashioned way of smoking bacon and it’s unfortunate that few places produce cob smoked bacon. The purpose of this Guide is help people that are looking to make their own cob smoked bacon at home. If you’re searching for how to make cob smoked bacon at home, it’s easier than you would think.
Equipment you will need
In order to smoke your own bacon you need a few things but once you have them, you will have them and be able to produce bacon when ever you need it. The equipment you will need includes:
- A smoker
- Amaze’n Pellet burner
- 8-10″ Cast iron pan
- Corn cob pellets
- Pork Belly
- Kosher Salt
- Granulated Maple Sugar
- Real Maple Syrup
- Closable bag(s)
Unless you already have one, you’ll need a smoking apparatus to smoke your bacon. There are many options but I recommend the Masterbuilt MPS 230S. It’s a relatively inexpensive unit that gives you plenty of room for expansion and is a smoker that will work for people with different abilities so if you’re a novice, this is a smoker that can grow with you.
A-Maze-N Pellet Burner
Unless your smoker is specifically designed for burning pellets, you’ll need an A-Maze-N pellet burner that will produce a cold smoke from wood pellets. They have tubes and mazes that allow you to put your pellets in and produce smoke to smoke your meats. The 5×8 Maze will produce smoke for up to 9 hours so if you’re looking for a long burning time, that would be your choice.
To avoid the maze pellet burner sitting directly on top of the burner, you can place it in a 8-10″ cast iron pan.
Corn Cob Pellets
Of course if you’re trying to smoke something with corn cobs, you need the corn cobs to do the actual smoking. You can use dried corn cobs that will burn slowly but probably the easiest way is to use corn cob pellets. The key is finding pure ones. Cob smoking is not widely done so there are no retailers selling corn cob pellets for smoking meats but there are retailers who sell corn cob pellets for other purposes. The purest one that I know of believe it or not is sold as “horse bedding” at Tractor Supply. Their Best Cob Premium Horse Bedding is 100% corn cobs and are used by many smokers to smoke their meats with corn cobs. This would probably be your best alternative if you do not have dried corn cobs to burn.
Bacon is produced from Pork Bellies. Pork Bellies are the under belly meat of a pig and when you purchase one you get about 12-15 pounds of bacon at a cost of about $3-4/lb. When you consider that cob smoked bacon can sell for $8-20/lb, you’re saving a lot by making your own. We’ll talk more in a minute on how to prepare your pork belly for smoking it into bacon. To locate a pork belly, start calling around to local meat markets or butchers and ask for a Pork Belly. They will know what you’re talking about and can tell you what they have. If available, see if they have ones without the the skin. It will save you time later!
Prepping your Pork Belly
Now that you have all the “hardware” to make your cob smoked bacon, you need to prep the pork belly and cure it for smoking. Many people will recommend curing with nitrates or pink salt or something like that but that is totally unnecessary. The process takes about a week to prep your bacon so keep that in mind.
If your pork belly still has the skin on, you want to remove that so that the smoke can penetrate the meat. Use a filet knife or something similar and slice that off so you just have the meat. Leaving a little fat is OK but you want it mostly off.
In a small bowl combine together:
- 1/4 Cup Kosher Salt
- 1/4 Cup Granulated Maple Sugar (you can also use brown sugar)
- 1/4 Real Maple Syrup (not the artificial stuff!)
Take this mixture and spread out on both sides of the pork belly. Carefully slide the pork belly into a gallon-sized zip-lock type bag and place it in your refrigerator.
Once a day for 7 days, flip over the bag with your pork belly.
On the 8th day, rinse off the pork belly and place it on a drying rack in your refrigerator and leave it overnight to dry.
Finally, How to Make Cob Smoked Bacon!
To smoke the bacon we are going to cold smoke the bacon which means we want smoke flowing over the meat for about 4 hours and a temperature between 75 and 90 degrees. Under most circumstances you won’t need to ignite your burner in your smoker unless it is very cold outside. The heat generated by the pellet maze should be enough to keep the temperature around 80 inside the smoker.
Start by putting the corn cob into your pellet maze and then using butane or strong flame in the igniter hole on both ends, light the pellets. This might take a minute or two and you should see a small flame on the pellets. Let the pellets burn for several minutes before gently putting the flame out. Smoke should roll off of the pellets and the maze should be ready to go.
You can either lay the pork belly flat on a rack near the top of the smoker or hang it from a bacon hanger. If you lay it flat, you’ll need to flip the bacon over about two hours into the smoking process. The bacon needs to be smoked for a total of four hours. I recommend a ThermalPro TP-17 dual probe thermometer which would allow you to accurately monitor the interior temperature of your smoker as well as the temperature of the bacon to complete the smoking process.
At the end of the four hours of smoking you want to put your burner on low and keep the internal temperature below 180 degrees and monitor the temperature of the bacon until it reaches 140 degrees. This should take about an hour.
Once the bacon reaches 140 degrees you can remove it from the smoker. Place the meat in a refrigerator and allow it to cool completely before slicing for best results. Cooling the meat makes it easier to slice but you can also slice it off the smoker if you just can’t wait. 😉
It’s a long process but in the end I think you will find this to be the best tasting bacon that you’ve ever had!