Cover – Makin Bacon

Cover – Makin Bacon



Curing and smoking your own is much easier than you might think.


Baked, broiled, smoked, fried, dry rubbed, wrapped around a steak, soaked in chocolate, sitting beside your eggs, or as makings of a main course … there may be nothing more comforting or deliciously aromatic than a pan of popping, sizzling bacon. It’s no wonder this savory morsel is a worshiped provision — bacon has thousands of preparations and uses.

Our obsession with this simple yet strangely sophisticated victual likely will remain for years to come. As a tribute to our love of this enticing classic, we went to three local pros for their favorite interpretations and recipes, so you can create your own bacon — from pork belly to pan to plate.

Why DIY bacon?

“One of the greatest benefits of making your own bacon is having the ability to choose the pork bellies, giving you the option to buy local commodities,” says Damon Ewasko, head butcher at Reno Provisions.

Considering each portion, he tries to use as much of the animal as possible, making his bacon using a dry rub with precise proportions.

Raisin’ your own

Nancy Ogan, owner of Ogan Family Farm in Wellington, dove into raising pigs in February 2014, and has fallen in love with the process.

“[The benefits] of making your own bacon are many,” she says. “You have control over your ingredients, quality, [choosing] local or organic, etc., and if you or your family [members have] any [food] sensitivities, you can adjust for those as well.”

Finding it difficult to locate someone who could cure her meat the paleo way (without nitrates and sugar), she started mixing up her own recipes.

“I would just encourage anyone interested [in making their own bacon] to play with their food,” she says. “It’s fun, interesting, and there are so many flavors and spice combinations. When you get it right, it’s so satisfying to serve it to your family, and listen to them enjoy the lip-smacking goodness.”

Healthier bacon

Rebekah Stetson, owner of Sunny Day Organic Farms in Stagecoach, began making her own bacon out of necessity.

“I couldn’t find any local, organic pork, so I decided it was time to grow it myself,” Stetson says. “The first pigs grew beautifully, and the butcher said they were the finest … that he had seen. I knew then that I had a product that should be shared with others.”

Stetson, Ogan, and Ewasko all agree that making bacon is easy, but it does take time, which is the price of quality. But having the option to buy local, with the ability to make your own bacon from scratch, gives you the power to eat one of the most talked about and used foodstuffs in the world. Makin’ your own bacon just seems right.

Reno writer Stina Fausone is a recent graduate of the Reynolds School of Journalism at UNR. She enjoyed learning about the process of makin’ bacon.


Reno Provisions Bacon

(courtesy of Damon Ewasko, head butcher at Reno Provisions. Serves 4)

“Pork bellies usually come in packages of about 10 to 12 pounds, cut into pieces of about four pounds each,” he says. “This recipe will cure about four pounds.”

4 pounds of pork belly

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup kosher salt

¾ teaspoon pink salt

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon cracked black pepper

Massage these dry ingredients onto pork belly and place in large plastic zipper bag. Press out excess air from bag and place pork belly in refrigerator for seven to 10 days, flipping bag around every day. At around nine days, bacon should be firm and can be removed from plastic bag and rinsed.

Dry rinsed bacon on a rack and place onto a sheet pan in the refrigerator overnight. Then, place belly in 225 degree F smoker until internal temperature is 150 degrees (about an hour and a half).

If you don’t have a readily available smoker, create a ratio of ¼ liquid smoke and ¾ water, mixed together. After rinsing off bacon, brush wet mixture on bacon before drying in refrigerator. Preheat oven to 225 degrees F and place belly on sheet pan on oven rack for an hour and a half, or until internal temperature reaches 150 degrees F. Cool, then refrigerate or enjoy immediately.

Ogan Family Bacon

(courtesy of Nancy Ogan, owner of Ogan Family Farm in Wellington. Cures 2 pork bellies)

16 cups water

4 cups salt (Redmond’s Realsalt recommended)

2 tablespoons peppercorns

1½ cups organic maple syrup

1½ cups local raw honey

2 pork bellies

Use an immersion blender to grind peppercorns and dissolve salt and honey. Combine peppercorns, salt, honey, water, and maple syrup in food-grade bucket or bin. All ingredients should be combined except pork belly. Once ingredients have been mixed, add pork bellies. Make sure all meat is completely submerged.

Use plate and Mason jar filled with water to hold meat in brine, soaking meat for 24 hours in refrigerator. After bellies have soaked, rinse them well with cool water.

Get your smoker ready with wood of choice and put bellies in smoker. Smoke meat at 200 degrees F until internal temperature of bacon is 155 degrees F. Cool, slice, and enjoy!

Sunny Day Organic Farm’s Delectable Craft Bacon

(courtesy of Rebekah Stetson, owner of Sunny Day Organic Farm in Stagecoach. Serves 10)

3 tablespoons salt

2½ pounds organically grown pork belly (any pork belly will do, but it will taste best if grown organically)

½ cup maple sugar (Coconut or brown sugar also will work, but maple is recommended)

2 tablespoons granulated garlic (or 3 cloves fresh garlic)

1½ tablespoons crushed black pepper

2 teaspoons fresh or dried thyme

1 teaspoon roasted fennel seeds

1 teaspoon roasted coriander seeds

2 tablespoons whiskey, strong coffee, or apple juice

Mix together dry ingredients and rinse and dry pork belly; remove any skin if still attached. Cover pork belly with whiskey (or coffee or juice), as this allows dry rub to adhere and absorb better.

Rub belly down with dry ingredients, taking special care to really massage into whole belly. Then seal meat container or plastic zipper bag and put in refrigerator.

Flip and massage meat every day for seven to 10 days (the longer you leave it, the stronger the flavor). After last day of curing, take it out and rinse, then pat it dry. Take cooling rack and put belly on baking sheet or something to catch any possible drips.

Place meat in refrigerator, uncovered on rack so all sides can get airflow, and let belly dry for about 24 hours. Then smoke meat on barbecue or smoker at 200 degrees F for one and a half hours.

Recommended woods for smoking bacon are apple or maple. Refrigerate or freeze to enable easy slicing. Enjoy!

(Note: Bake, don’t fry, your bacon. Stetson suggests searching online for Alton Brown’s method of baking bacon. Make this recipe your own by adding red pepper, jalapeño slices, extra garlic, nutmeg, cinnamon, or whatever you fancy!)



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Discover new products, thriving traditions, or exciting food events, festivals, restaurants, and markets – all of the things that are helping to make us a true culinary destination.