Homemade Smoked Maple Bacon


Homemade bacon.  Got your attention?  Store bought bacon is good, but it’s darn expensive.  Homemade bacon is outstanding, it’s a lot cheaper and not hard to make.

Most ingredients for this homemade bacon recipe are stuff that you probably already have.  The specialty items are:

Pink Curing Salt” is a special salt used for curing meats. It should not be eaten straight up as you will get sick. It’s ONLY for curing meat. You can get that at any spice shop or at Amazon HERE. You only need a little bit for 5 pounds of bacon so it goes a long way.

For pork belly, you may have to shop around. I looked for a while and had butchers want up to $6.00 a pound for pork belly which is just insane (some store bought bacon is cheaper!!). I get mine from a local butcher for $2.50 – $3.00 a pound, which is about right.

Here’s my recipe for homemade smoked maple bacon.

2 ounces kosher salt (about 1/4 cup)
2 teaspoons pink curing salt
1/4 cup maple sugar or packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup (use REAL maple syrup for best results. The “2% maple syrup” fake stuff just doesn’t cut it)
One 5 pound slab pork belly, skin on.

1. Combine the kosher salt, pink salt, and sugar in a bowl and mix so that the ingredients are evenly distributed. Add the maple syrup and stir to combine.

2. Rub the cure mixture over the entire surface of the pork belly. Place skin side down in a 2-gallon Ziploc bag or a glass container just slightly bigger than the meat. The pork will release water into the salt mixture, creating a brine.  You want the meat to be in contact with this liquid throughout the curing process.

* Tip:  If you are doing large pork bellies, use garbage bag size plastic bags (kitchen size unscented garbage bags work great) and just tie them closed. I then put the bag into a baking pan just in case a leak happens when curing in the fridge.

3. Refrigerate, turning the belly and redistributing the cure every day or two for 7 days, until the meat is firm to the touch.  If it feels squishy still, let it cure for another day or two.

4. Remove the belly from the cure, rinse it thoroughly, and pat it dry. Place it on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet and dry in the refrigerator, uncovered, for 12 to 24 hours.  This allows the meat to dry out slightly, making it more receptive to smoking. It will just absorb more smoke, and be more tasty, if you do this.

5. Hot-smoke the pork belly to an internal temperature of 150 degrees F. I typically use apple wood to smoke, but use what you want.  Remove from the smoker or grill and let it cool slightly.

6. When the belly is cool enough to handle but still warm, cut the skin off by sliding a sharp knife between the fat and the skin, leaving as much fat on the bacon as possible (the skin should come off very easily). A slab of pork belly should have equal proportions of meat and fat.

7. Let the bacon cool, then wrap in plastic and refrigerate or freeze it until ready to use.

Yield: 4 pounds smoked, yummy slab bacon.

And in case it’s not obvious, you need to cook the bacon after you smoke it, just like the store bought stuff. The smoking process is for flavor only.

Enjoy! Start doing this and you’ll become a bacon snob like me.

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Sriracha Honey Glazed Quail

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With a freezer full of quail I am always looking for new recipes to keep things interesting.  My dad emailed this recipe to me and it is now our favorite.  I didn’t take any pictures when I made it for the first time, but I will update this post with some the next time we make it (it won’t be long).  I just wanted to get this recipe out there asap!

I modified the recipe somewhat – recipes are only guides after all.  Modify them to your taste.

Fried Quail

6 quail
1 cup (237 ml) Sriracha sauce
1 cup (237 ml) buttermilk
Frying oil
1 cup (237 ml) high alcohol beer
1 egg
2 cups flour

Take the 6 quail and remove the breasts and “drumsticks” (thigh and leg).

Mix the Sriracha and buttermilk and marinate the quail for several hours or overnight.

Preheat your frying oil to 325°F (163°C).  A deep fryer or a big pot will work fine.

Mix the beer and the egg in a mixing bowl. Place the flour in a large shallow dish or bowl.

Remove the quail from the marinade, rinse under cold water and season with salt.

Dip the quail in the egg mixture and dredge in the flour.

Fry at 325°F (163°C) for 5–6 minutes, or until golden brown, and drain on paper towels.

And now for the really good part……

Sriracha-Honey Glaze

¼ cup (59 ml) Sriracha sauce
½ cup (118 ml) honey

Mix the Sriracha and honey in a large bowl. Toss the fried quail in the Sriracha-honey sauce and serve immediately.

Our kids devoured the “drumsticks” and the adults loved the boneless breasts.  This became an instant favorite.

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Baked Roaring Fork Smuggler Quail

Here’s what I made tonight:  “Baked Roaring Fork Smuggler Quail”  Simple, easy, yummy.

First thing I did was take the dressed quail and separate the drumsticks from the breasts.

Then I took the rest of the bird and set it on the cutting board so the breasts were facing up and pushed down with my fingers to crack the bones so the breasts lay flatter.  This will make it easier to pan sear them later.  The one on the right has not been flattened, the one on the left has been.

A quick dash of salt, pepper and garlic powder and they were ready for the pan.

I heated up a frying pan to medium-high heat with olive oil and got the oven heated up to 350.  Then I simply pan seared the breasts in the frying pan, breast side down first, then I flip them.
pan seared quail breast

When the breasts were close to being done I tossed in the drumsticks.  The drumsticks are small and cook faster than the breasts.
searing quail breasts and drumsticks

Then I took everything and put it in an oil-coated baking pan and splashed some of my favorite seasoning on it, plus a few hunks of butter.
quail in a pan

I used Roaring Fork’s “Smuggler Sweet BBQ Blend” this time.  Roaring Fork Spice Co. is an outfit that we ran into at a farmers market in Glenwood Springs, CO this summer and we were actually their very first customers – cool!  Their spice blends are great and I highly recommend them.

Then the pan got covered tightly with foil and baked in the oven for 20 minutes.

The kitchen filled with aroma of awesome yumminess.  This turned out great.  Serve with a tomato basil salad and some steamed rice…..oh yeah.
baked quail done

Hey, if you have any recipes, share then in the comments.  I’m always looking for new ideas!

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Quail Egg Scissors or Cutters

If you want to fry up some quail eggs for breakfast you just crack them open and pour them in the frying pan, right?  No.  You need to CUT them open because there is a fairly tough membrane underneath the shell that is much stronger than chicken eggs.  If you smack a quail egg on the side of your frying pan you will quickly find this out.

To solve this problem, clever humans have invented quail egg scissors or cutters.  Just insert the FAT end of the egg into the round part of the cutter and slice it off like you are using a pair of scissors.  Don’t worry, you won’t cut the yolk.  Then just pour the contents of the egg where you need it.

These are what I use.  They’re only about $10 on Amazon and ship free with Prime.
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You can find cheaper ones, but having a good set of cutters is a good investment for a few extra bucks.

I have found deals on eBay for 3 pairs of cheaply made cutters for $10 or so, but you get what you pay for there.  I order a few sets of these every so often and just give a pair of cutters to someone who is interested in trying my eggs for the first time.

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Scotch Quail Eggs

With a giant surplus of quail eggs I am always looking for new ways to use these little treasures.  I came across a recipe for “Scotch Eggs”.  They sounded yummy so I tried making some with quail eggs.

First, I hard boiled 20 quail eggs.  Just put them in cold water in a sauce pan and bring the water to a boil.  Let the eggs simmer in boiling water for about 5 minutes.  I live at 9,000 feet elevation, so you may need to adjust your timing a bit.  Go a little longer for harder yolks and a little shorter for softer or even runny yolks.  To each his own.

I keep reading that “you should constantly stir quail eggs while boiling so the yolk doesn’t settle on one side”.  I call BS on this.  I’ve stirred and not stirred and had the exact same results every time, so I no longer bother stirring while boiling my quail eggs.

quail eggs boiling

Next, remove the eggs from the stove and run them under cold water so they cool off.  I usually run water into the pan until the water is cool and then let the eggs sit in water for a while, sometimes hours – it won’t hurt them.

Next is the super-fun part.  Peeling the eggs!  Here’s a little tip that might help.

Once the eggs are cool, roll them gently on your counter to break the shell all over and pinch off the fat end of the shell.  Then toss the egg back into the cool water for a while.  This lets water get in between the shell/membrane and the egg, making it easier to peel later.

OK, so all of your eggs are finally peeled.  Get some ground sausage and make a bunch of patties big enough that you can cover a quail egg with them.  Honestly, I made my sausage patties a little too thick the first time, but they were still yummy.

Season your sausage any way you want.  I bought “hot jalapeno breakfast sausage” for my first try so I didn’t bother seasoning it any further.

Put each egg in the center of a sausage patty and encase each egg with the sausage by rolling it into a ball.
egg in sausageegg sausage balls

Roll the ball in some flour to lightly coat it, dip into some beaten eggs (quail eggs, of course) and then give them a good coating of bread crumbs.  The process goes right to left in the picture.
scotch egg prep

Now they’re ready to cook.
scotch eggs ready to cook
I used a pretty standard Hamilton Beach Deep Fryer set at 375 and let them cook for about 4-5 minutes.  You could pan fry these as well, but I haven’t done that.

When they are golden brown and crispy on the outside, pull them out and let them sit for a minute or two, then dig in.  Depending on what kind of sausage you use, a variety of dipping sauces can be served with them (ranch, blue cheese, fancy mustard, etc.).
scotch eggs cookedsliced scotch egg

I used “hot jalapeno breakfast sausage” for mine the first time, but I think a sweeter sausage might be a better choice for next time.

Give it a try!

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Quail Egg Breakfast Sandwich Update

OK, so I’ve modified the quail egg sandwich routine a bit.  I use a 12 cup muffin baking pan, so adjust amounts accordingly.

First, lightly grease or spray the muffin pan with cooking spray.

Then scramble about 36 quail eggs with a few tablespoons of water.  I use a KitchenAid  blender that is awesome for scrambling eggs and great for all kinds of things, but scrambling by hand works fine too.

Pour the scrambled quail eggs into the muffin pan and put it into an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees.

Check the eggs after about 5 minutes and take them out when they are firm.  Top with American Cheese and ham/bacon/sausage/etc.

Individually wrap with plastic wrap and put them all in a big zip-lock bag in the freezer.

The kids then just grab one or two at a time, microwave them and chow down.

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Quail Egg Sandwiches Were a Hit!

Our kids love the quail egg, cheese & ham sandwiches that I made for them for breakfast.  Now I have to remind them that they are for breakfast ONLY and not for snacking anytime.  I’ll make the next batch with some homemade bacon on there instead of ham…yummy.  Maybe I should post our homemade bacon recipe.  I suppose we’ll do some with sausage too.  Variety is good.  Sleep is good too.  🙂

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Quail Egg Breakfast Sandwiches for the Kids

We’re busy as hell in the morning and do our best to give our kids a decent breakfast before school.  And I don’t mean a bowl of some sugar/wheat/flour junk saturated in milk.  We try to make the kiddos something fresh every day but it is challenging sometimes.

So I thought I’d try making a bunch of quail egg, cheese and ham sandwiches on a small roll and freezing them.  Then the kids can just microwave them in the morning.

What I did was take a standard cupcake pan that makes 12 cupcakes, lightly grease it and tossed in 3 quail eggs in each hole.  Then I broke each yoke so there would be no messy sandwiches when we were done.  I cooked them at 400 degrees for a few minutes, until they were pretty firm.

Once done, I put a slice of REAL American cheese on top followed by a slice of ham.  (“processed cheese food”? yuck!!)  Wrap them up individually and freeze them and you have saved yourself a half hour of sleep each morning.  😉

Well, we’ll see how these go over tomorrow morning.

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