Monday, October 29, 2012

Braised Bacon (pork belly), spaetzel and cabbage

I have wanted to do a pork belly and have read a lot of recipes. Most do a cure on a fresh pork belly first then various methods of cooking. I thought now bacon is cured pork belly so why not use bacon and cut out that step, and I love bacon. I decided on a beer braised recipe, I did not have to do the cure and made up my own cooking method. For my sides I would have fried cabbage and fried spaetzel and would serve the braised bacon on the spaetzel with the braising liquid over.

I bought a piece of bacon 2, ½ pounds from Kah Meats, my butcher. I cut three nice squares from it to use. I smoked it today, early morning, for 1 ½ hours.

I used my Lodge cast iron chicken fryer with lid to do the braising. I added some olive oil and seared the bacon, top and bottom then removed and set aside. I added a chopped onion, some chopped baby carrots, and two stalks of celery, chopped and some thyme. I stirred and cooked awhile then added a little beer to deglaze. I used Yuengling black & tan. I placed the bacon pieces over the veggies, poured in most of the rest of the beer, and enough chicken broth to all but cover the bacon.

I added a bay leaf, covered and in a preheated oven at 280 deg. I left it in 3 hours checking the liquid about every hour. After the three hour I removed the bacon and placed a cast iron plate over and some plates to press while cooling. The recipe said to discard the veggies but for me they would stay. I strained most of the fat from the liquid.

I put the bacon back in the pot and on the smoker, uncovered. I did it at 180 deg. for one hour then went to 225 deg. My Traeger was running closer to 235 deg. Average so I let it run there another two hours. The sauce was reduced down nice. I placed it on a burner on low to hold while I prepared the sides.

I got the cabbage on frying and boiled the spaetzel, and then it went into a skillet with some olive oil and butter to brown some. I placed the bacon under the broiler to brown the tops some.

I served it up with some buttered crusty bread, sure tasted good. If I did this again I would probably do the final step by just doing the bacon on the smoker, directly on the grate, at a high temperature to render more of the fat and crisp up. My wife didn’t eat any of the fat and I didn’t eat the top layer; I had the thickest piece with the most fat on top. The thinner layers of fat were fine for me. The meat was melt in your mouth tender.

Bacon and liquid

Bacon smoking

Smoked bacon, spaetzel, and cabbage

Searing the bacon

The veggies

Ready to add the liquid

After 3 hours at 280 degrees

Ready to go back on the smoker

All done and the sauce reduced

Fixing the sides

My Plate

Smokin Don


  1. Thanks Joe, I recently tried to comment on your site, I could not get the security word typed in correct. Don