When was the last time that you tasted food and it made you salivate like Pavlov’s dog? As a food lover, I know how to appreciate food but to be honest, nothing makes me drool like bacon jerky. I just love the taste of bacon jerky, and while nutritionists can discuss the importance of protein in our daily nutritional needs, I just want to focus this article on how you can make your own dehydrated bacon so delicious that it will become your family’s new favorite.
I can’t remember the last time that I’ve cooked bacon jerky for my family but I rediscovered my old recipe when my son asked me about a bacon recipe that he saw on Youtube. Not to be defeated by some video, I pulled out some old tricks under my sleeves and cooked my own true and tested bacon jerky recipe.
Ingredients for Homemade Bacon Jerky
This recipe is better prepared on a weekend when you have enough time. The overall preparation time for this recipe is 20 minutes and the cooking time will take about 5 hours with a smoker.
Meat and Fire Preparation for Bacon Jerky
The first thing that you have to consider when cooking bacon jerky is the temperature. The recipe that I promote involves using a smoker because smoking is my favorite technique. You can easily use and over and dehydrator with the same procedure here and still come up with the same result.
- Place the cooling racks on the cookie sheets. Doing this will allow the smoke to surround your meat during the initial cooking process. You can easily spread 1lb of meat on a single cooling sheet. Feel free to use more cooling rack if you ran out of space for this 2-pound recipe. Make sure to space the bacon evenly, leaving little room between the slices.
- Unlike preparing other meats for smoking, you don’t need to apply a lot of your rub concoction to your bacon. A light sprinkle of the dry ingredients will do. A little dusting of the garlic powder, a little brown sugar and a heavier sprinkling of black pepper will do the trick in giving us a sweet savory flavor combination. Flip the bacon when done with one side and follow the same procedure for the flip side.
- After the bacon is fully seasoned, put the rack into the refrigerator for an hour.
- While the bacon is inside the refrigerator, start your fire and ready your smoker. When the fire is going good and has some coals going gray, you can then put the first piece of hickory wood for smoking.
- Make sure that the temperature of your smoker stays at 190°F. When the temperature has stabilized at 190°F, bring out your bacon from the refrigerator and start transforming it into bacon jerky.
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Make sure to build your fire away from the meat on the far side of the smoker box. The bacon is a delicate meat and it can easily burn up when proper conditions are not met. The key to making delicious bacon jerky is consistent temperature.
First Step in Making Bacon Jerky
There are basically two steps in making bacon jerky. The first part is when you use the smoker and the second part is when you place the bacon into the oven. Let us first talk about the smoking process.
- After you’ve placed your bacon rack into the smoker, let the smoking process go for about two hours.
- Observe for changes in the color of the meat because this is the sign that it is turning into bacon jerky.
- Check your bacon jerky after an hour of smoking to see the status of the grease. The cookie sheet will hold a bit of the grease but if the bacon has more fat content than normal, you’d want to remove grease from the cookie sheet. Make sure to close the smoker when you’re doing this to maintain its temperature.
- You can flip your bacon jerky to ensure a balanced cooking, but if your temperature is consistent, you don’t need to do this step.
- After a couple of hours of smoking, the bacon jerky is about half done and it’s time to proceed to the next step.
Second Step in Making Bacon Jerky
- After the two-hour smoking process, set the bacon aside and preheat your oven to 190°F.
- While the oven is preheating, remove the grease from the bacon. Blot the meat for any residual grease. The greatest challenge that I realized in this cooking process is really removing all the grease.
- When the oven is ready, slide the smoked bacon jerky into it.
- Cooking time inside the oven will take 3 hours but you have to check your bacon jerky after every hour.
Bear in mind that bacon is thin meat and the thickness can vary depending on where you bought it. You want to see the color and texture change and it should be a bit pliable.
Serving and Saving the Bacon Jerky for Later
After the bacon jerky has reached the color and texture that you want, you can now take it out of the oven. Let it rest covered with paper towel to remove all the excess grease. When it has cooled enough, you can start enjoying it and serving it to your family.
After the family has taken its fill of your homemade bacon jerky, you can set the leftover aside for later munching. Make sure to remove all the excess grease and store them in clean zip locked bags. If you have a vacuum food sealer machine, use it to lock the goodies in. Store them in a cool dry place or in the pantry until you’re ready to eat them again.
Now that I have walked you through the process of making delicious bacon jerky, let me tell you about its nutritional value. A pound of bacon has 660 calories and 48 grams of protein. The two-pound recipe that I gave you should yield a whooping 1,320 calories and 96 grams of protein. All these are rough estimates because it’s difficult to account for what have been lost during the cooking and dehydrating process.
Bacon jerky is ideal packed lunch when you want to go backpacking, rock climbing, mountaineering, paddling and such activities that require heavy performance from your muscles and points. The reason behind this is that you need to fuel your body with complex protein when you engage in these types of activities to keep it at its peak performance.
The next time you see bacon on sale, try to buy some extra packs and apply what you’ve learned so far. Share your thoughts by leaving a comment or two below.