Tag Archives: Midwest Flatlander

Hey guys!  It's John the Midwest Flatlander here, and I know it's been a while since I posted.  But it is spring here on the flat land, and that means lots of work, work, work.  But today it's raining, so I thought i would try to get ya'll caught up on what's been happening.  You probably picked up on at least some of the fun we are having here on the flat land by looking at the title of this post.  And you are right, so let's get started!

So I love bacon.  I know.  Right?  And it's easy to get, and there are lots of different brands and types to choose from.  Thick cut, smoked, peppered are just a few examples.  So I went to Costco one day and was browsing the meat department, my new favorite place, and saw pork bellies for sale.  I was immediately smitten, and I knew at that moment that home made bacon would be a reality.  I searched the internet for a recipe, and I found this one.  And yes, I used the nutmeg and coffee as described, and I also used the grade B maple syrup which I'm very glad I did.  Since I cut a 10 pound pork belly in half, I made a double recipe.  So now let's take a look at what I did, because I did stray from the recipe ever so slightly.  Hey, it's me.  Right?  Here we go.

I took the pork belly I bought from Costco and cut it in half.  Then I slathered the pork bellies with the grade B maple syrup and coffee.  To do the slathering, I poured the wet ingredients into a large metal mixing bowl and dropped the bellies in one at a time coating generously.  After slathering the bellies with the wet ingredients, I then packed the dry ingredients from the above recipe (note, here is where I strayed from the recipe; I used pink Himalayan salt which is very salty tasting so next time i might try kosher salt or just cure it for a shorter period of time).  Start by mixing the dry ingredients (salt, ground black pepper and nutmeg), and then putting half the mix into the bottom of the pan (pans in my case).  Place the pork bellies on top of the dry ingredients in the pan(s).  Lay the pork bellies down on top of the dry ingredients and coat the top side of the bellies with the rest of the dry ingredients.  The instructions said to square up each cut, but I did not.  I wanted to have some "ends" to put into beans or other recipes.  Here is what they looked like.

Pork Bellies Ready to Cure
Pork Bellies Ready to Cure

I put the pork bellies into the fridge to cure for 3-7 days turning them everyday.  I turned them everyday as instructed, and by the time the curing was done they looked like this.

Pork Bellies cured after 7 days.
Pork Bellies cured after 7 days.

After I pulled them out of the pans, I rinsed them thoroughly.  Now it's time to smoke.  You can check out my smoker setup in any of my previous smoker posts, however I will say that this time I did about half of the charcoal I usually do.  I used apple wood, but you can use your favorite smoking wood.  Smoking time for this recipe is approximately 2 hours, so I only filled the coal basket half full.  Once I hung the pork bellies into the Pit Barrel Cooker, it was go time!  Here is the final product.  Outstanding!

Smoked Bacon in the Pit Barrel
Smoked Bacon in the Pit Barrel

Remember, this smoke is not designed to cook the meat.  You just want to give the meat enough time to absorb the smoke adding just the right amount of apple wood smoke flavor.  The only thing left to do now is slice the bacon and package it up for the freezer or the frying pan.  AH YEAH!!!!

Thick cut bacon!
Thick cut bacon!

The only thing left to do is taste it.  It fries up just perfectly in a cast iron skillet which is my favorite frying method.  Delicious!!!  And save that grease!

Cast Iron Skillet fried BACON!
Cast Iron Skillet fried BACON!

So there you have it.  Home made DIY apple wood smoked bacon!  I think I might change things up a bit next time I make some.  And there WILL be a next time.  That's it for this session.  Hope you got some inspiration for your next DIY food project.  I'll see you next time for more adventuring outside.  And remember leave no trace, leave a legacy.

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Hey guys it's John the Midwest Flatlander here with another idea to inspire you to get outside, fire up the smoker and enjoy sharing life with your family and friends.  So we are continuing on from my last post discussing BBQ--one of my favorite topics.  This time we are going hog wild at the pit. With so many options for BBQ, it really is difficult to pick the type of BBQ to make.  Add to that the many different methods to cook the meat, and you've got yourself a real dilemma.  The pain is real people.  We need some good old fashion grilling therapy, so let's fire up the grill or smoker and make it happen!  Here we go!

So one of my favorite BBQ meats has to be pulled pork.  Whether it's in a sandwich, wrapped in a tortilla, or just plain, pulled pork is a BBQ staple and somewhat intimidating to make especially since there are lots of ways to make it.  I decided to go with slow and simple, and as you will see the results were exactly what I was hoping for.  Let's get started.

I purchased a 16 pound double pack of boneless pork shoulders at Costco for around $25/pack.  I could totally live in the meat department at Costco.  So many different choice cuts to choose from, it's amazing.  Just saying.  Anyway, both shoulders were very close to equal weight, so cooking time would be about the same for both.  To prep the shoulders for the smoker, I rubbed on a light coating of peanut oil.  Use whatever cooking oil you have, however if you use coconut oil be sure to heat it up until it becomes liquid before using it.  Next I dusted both shoulders with the All Purpose Rub from Pit Barrel Cooker's website.  That's all there is to it.  Simple.  Easy.  Now let's setup the Pit Barrel Cooker.

Pork Shoulders ready for the pit.
Pork Shoulders ready for the pit.

I used the same setup for the Pit Barrel as I used for the turkey, however this time I used apple wood instead of hickory.  I did not use a blend on this smoke, but I plan to try a blend of apple and hickory the next time I do pulled pork--and there WILL be a next time.  Setup on the Pit Barrel is easy.  First, fill the coal basket to the top with Kingsford Original briquettes.  Then remove about 1/4 of the briquettes, and put them into a starter chimney--no need to use lighter fluid.  I used a folded newspaper with a little sunflower oil stuffed into the bottom of the chimney.  Light the chimney.

Setting up the Pit Barrel Cooker
Setting up the Pit Barrel Cooker

Place the coal basket into the Pit Barrel.  Once the coals in the chimney are ready, dump them on top of the coal basket and you are ready to cook.  Be sure to place the two pieces of re-bar into the holes on top of the Pit Barrel, as they help control the heat inside the Pit Barrel.  Time to get the pork shoulders!!!

Pit Barrel ready for the magic!
Pit Barrel ready for the magic!

I placed two of the meat hooks that come with the Pit Barrel into each shoulder making sure there was room for the re-bar to fit through.  Then, I hung them as evenly spaced as I could to ensure even cooking.  Next I put the lid on and let the magic begin.

Pork Shoulders + Smoke = Happiness!
Pork Shoulders + Smoke = Happiness!

I started checking temperature about 2-3 hours into the cook.  The smell was amazing!  Just a quick check with my thermometer and back to the smoke.  Cooking time was approximately 4-5 hours up to a temperature of 160F.

First check on the shoulders.  Right on schedule!
First check on the shoulders. Right on schedule!

Once we got to 160F, it was time to take them off the smoker and wrap the shoulders in tin foil with a wrapping juice.  I used wide heavy duty tin foil to wrap each shoulder.  Before I close up the foil wrap, I poured about a half cup of apple cider over each shoulder and put them back into the smoker.  The Pit Barrel comes with a grill grate that I set the shoulders onto.  Once the temp got to approximately 195F, I took them off and let them sit for about 30-45 minutes.  Finally, I peeled back the foil, and beheld the joy!

The results are perfect!
The results are perfect!

As you can see, the shoulders are still sitting in the apple cider which is exactly what you want.  The next step is to pull the meat apart.  I used two forks to do this.  Use whatever tool you want.  As you shred the pork, the apple cider bastes the meat even more adding more flavor to the final product.  Here is what it looked like after the shred.  Amazing!

The finished product.  Perfect!
The finished product. Perfect!

All that's left is to grab a bun, some Curley's BBQ sauce, some beans and a tall glass of your favorite beverage!  I hope you found some inspiration for your next cook out.  If you want to please your family or friends or if you are looking for something great to cook for a large crowd or even a Super Bowl party, give pulled pork a try.

That's all for this session. I'll see you next time for more outdoor cooking and adventures.  Be sure to get out and enjoy your own adventures with your family or friends.  And remember, leave no trace...leave a legacy.

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