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Rinse and pat the pork belly dry. Trim any scraggly edges so the pork belly forms a neat rectangle. Save the scraps for homemade sausage, if desired. (Who in his right mind doesn’t desire sausage?)
In a medium bowl, mix the brown sugar, maple syrup, salt, espresso powder, curing salt, pepper, and enough water to make a sludgy mess.
Using your hands, slather the mixture all over the pork belly, turning to coat all sides. Slip the floppy belly into a large resealable plastic bag and seal it. Fit the belly, in its bag, into a baking dish and then slide the whole thing into the fridge. Refrigerate for 7 days, making sure to flip the bag and massage the liquid that accumulates in the bag into the pork belly once a day.
After 7 days, remove the pork belly from the bag, rinse it thoroughly under cool running water, and pat it lightly dry. Set up your smoker, charcoal grill, or gas grill for hot smoking using sawdust, chips, chunks, pellets, or bisquettes.
Smoke the meat in your smoker (or, if using a charcoal or gas grill, over indirect heat) making sure to keep the temperature at 200°F (93°C), until the internal temperature of the bacon registers 150°F (65°C), roughly 3 to 4 1/2 hours, give or take some time depending on the size of your pork belly and the exact temperature of your smoker. [If you don’t have the means to smoke the pork belly, you can make the bacon by brushing the fatty side with liquid smoke and then baking it in a 200°F (93°C) oven until it reaches an internal temperature of 150°F (65°C).] Remove the bacon from the smoker and let it rest until it’s cool enough to handle.
Grab a sharp knife, slice the cooled bacon as thickly or as thinly as you please, and cook it up any way you want. I can’t resist sizzling it up in a skillet. Wrap the rest tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze it for up to 2 months. Originally published May 30, 2014.