Cow bacon is popularly enjoyed in all parts of the world today, as it is an excellent substitute to pork bacon.
Whereas some people don’t enjoy the traditional taste of bacon, others have cultural or social impediments to cooking pork bacon. Such individuals readily seek beef bacon. Nicely cooked beef bacon tastes far more delicious and turns out crispier than its pork counterpart. But the problem is that beef bacon is not as readily available in stores.
it is not mass produced like ordinary bacon, so you are on your own when want to enjoy some beefy treats. Well, not entirely! I am here to make sure that all my readers get to explore the fine taste and texture of it. What I normally do is keep both beef and pork bacon ready at home and use them contextually for breakfast or lunch or other meals.
This routine of mine adds so much variety to my menu. More importantly, there are so many amazing recipes that you can make using beef bacon and I am going to share them all in just a bit!
The Bacon Science!
Why is bacon different from other forms of the meat? That is probably because those thin slices are sliced off from a pork belly. In Canada and Australia, the pork loin is also sometimes used to cut off bacon from. This belly meat contains a reasonable amount of fat.
That’s why every time you sear bacon, it gives off bacon fat. The fat is enough to cook beef bacon without any cooking oil. For cow bacon, the beef belly is used to slice off the pieces. The more industrial term is the navel of the beef belly. This meat also contains longs seams of fat. And when the bacon is cooked these fats give a nice golden stripe to the bacon slice.
Beef brisket bacon is also a thing these days. You shouldn’t always use the belly meat to slice off the bacon, beef brisket can also serve the purpose. In fact, it gives nice fatty meat which is well suited for bacon. Brisket bacon tastes amazing when barbecued, around a kebab, or simply grilled and served with BBQ sauce on top.
Removing the bacon slice from the brisket can be a bit tricky. So, I always advise to not be too adventurous and leave this in the hands of professionals. You can later trim off the fats or the meat as you desire before curing the meat into bacon. Keep it wrapped in a plastic sheet until you are ready to cure it.
What it tastes like?
Oh man! I still remember that first bite and the feeling that came with it. I wasn’t expecting the taste of beef bacon to be any different from the traditional bacon we eat. But the amazing taste took me back to the time where our ancestors used to enjoy fried cooking in beef fats.
This bacon had the exact same taste. The intensity and the density of the flavors were ridiculous. I use some salt and black pepper for seasoning while searing the bacon for my breakfast. Simple seasoning highlights the natural taste of the basic ingredients, and will mask the earthy flavors of fatty bacon.
Beef belly bacon became a popular choice in bacon not only because of its taste, but also because it gives you a break from that same old pork bacon. With beef, you can create so many different varieties of traditional recipes. Add them to your scramble, mix it in a quiche or drizzle it over lasagna, use them in bacon cups or muffins, etc.
How to Make Beef Bacon?
Let’s prepare some beef bacon for your next meal. Surprise your folks with a beef delight. It takes four steps to make that reach to a delicious bacon. From raw meat to cured, smoked and cooked alike, we will follow how each step is necessary for the transformation of the beef.
Like I have said, belly or navel beef is most suitable for this task, but you are free to choose brisket if you can handle a little variety. Note down the timing of each step very carefully as it can mess up the whole recipe, speaking from personal experience.
- 3-4lb beef navel
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 2 tablespoons pepper
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon pink curing salt
Reduce the amount of sugar if you are following a health-oriented diet or use some alternative like low carb sweeteners, etc. Brown sugar can also be used instead of white sugar. If you are not a spice fan than do not use paprika but instead use black pepper to season the bacon.
Dry spice rub makes the curing and drying of the beef easier, so avoid using ingredients like lemon juices, etc. for flavoring. It’s bacon, not a grilled steak! The four steps of bacon making involve curing of the meat, drying, smoking it, and finally, the bacon is cooked. Let’s jump into the further details of these steps.
Curing is much like marination where you infuse some flavors into the meat while tenderizing it a little. Pick the portion of the meat belly you want to use for your bacon. You need to slice off the belly in such a way that the fat can be seen extending longitudinally in the rectangular beef chunk.
After slicing the beef, rub it with all the dry spices and sugar generously. For an even taste, I mix the spices together along with sugar and salt, then rub the mixture on both sides of the bacon. Now put the belly in a Ziplock bag and zip it! Keep this bag in your refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
The meat will release its own liquid into the bag due to the sugar and salt content. Once a day shake the bag well and flip it over. The longer the curing period, the better the results will be. Five days at most are enough to cure the meat completely. Remove the bag from the refrigerator afterward and transfer the meat to a colander.
Before you start drying it, rinse the meat thoroughly under cold tap water. Make sure each part of the beef is completely washed and rinsed. After draining out all the water, place the meat on layers of paper towel to absorb excess water. Pat it dry from top to bottom using a paper towel.
Ideally, it is suggested to again refrigerate the meat overnight for better drying. But it is not completely necessary; you can skip this step if you are out of time or in a hurry. Or you can keep it for a few hours in the refrigerator until you are ready for the next step. That’s what I do when I am short of time. Do not cover the beef at this stage, or else it will not dry as desired.
Once you are done with the drying part, the next big step is to set up the smoker. Use any smoker available, electric or gas, etc. as long as the required temperature is maintained. There is no particular advantage in using any variety of smoker. Turn on the smoker first and adjust its temperature to 200 to 215 Fahrenheit. Let it preheat until it reaches the set temperature.
Prepare the smoker grill and a baking sheet to smoke the dried-up beef. Remove the smoker lid and place the beef inside then cover the lid again. Continue smoking the beef until its internal temperature reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit. That can be checked using a kitchen thermometer. Insert the thermometer after every 15 minutes to check the doneness of the meat and the desired temperature.
Last stop? Cooking! Like pork bacon, beef bacon can be cooked in so many ways. Searing can possibly be the best option. But before that slice the smoked beef bacon into thin slices. The thickness can be 1/4th to ½ inch, depends on how you like it. But it’s best to keep the beef slices thin, unlike pork bacon which is better in thick slices.
Trace those golden fat ribbons extending through the meat to slice off the bacon strips. Sear these slices in a skillet over medium to low heat until crispy. This bacon can be preserved in the refrigerator up to as many as 14 days, that means almost half a month.
Two kitchen sessions a month can give you enough beef bacon to last for a month. And if you freeze them, they can even last for several months.
What is a Kosher Beef Bacon?
While I was learning more about the beef bacon and its making, I came across the term ‘Kosher Beef bacon,’ and I thought it was a store packed variety of beef bacon that you cannot make at home. But that was far from the truth. Kosher beef bacon differs from other beef bacon only in the use of the spices in the curing process.
The basic recipe does not ask for kosher salt, or cherry powder or celery powder, but kosher beef bacon is cured with all such spices. The full list of ingredients includes beef, water, sea salt, sugar, honey, cherry powder, celery powder, spices, natural smoke flavor, and garlic.
With the slight change in the spice blend, this bacon turns out quite different taste-wise. I would not recommend this recipe for newbies. First, start with the basic recipe I am about to share and after better familiarity with the recipe switch to other varieties.
5 Beef Bacon Recipes You Can Try
Rev up your cooking skills, as we are about to put that beef bacon you just made to excellent use! Bacon doesn’t always have to be served with scrambled eggs. There are far more scrumptious uses of it. That is why this section is written with just about every popular type of recipe beef bacon can be used in.
We won’t be discussing them in great length, but I will certainly tell you where beef bacon will fit in the whole picture.
The first recipe I have for you is Carbonara. You might have tried it in its ‘non-beefy’ version. As the actual recipe does not mention the use of beef bacon, people use normal old bacon. But we will be making it with some grilled beef bacon. First the spaghetti is boiled until it is al dente and then you drain and rinse it under cold water.
This technique keeps the texture of the spaghetti maintained and each noodle separated from the other. Keep the spaghetti aside while you prepare the delicious part of the recipe. Beat eggs with garlic, cheese, and olive oil and stir in chopped beef bacon. Stir cook this mixture until golden brown in a greased pan. Top the cooked spaghetti with the sautéed egg mixture and serve warm. Garnish with some fresh parsley and grated cheese.
Ah, classic old breakfast recipes with a new beef bacon touch. Let’s break it down into three different morning recipes. The first one is quite simple, just sear the bacon in a nonstick skillet until it turns crispy and serve it with your favorite egg scramble.
The next comes the beef bacon quiche or morning casserole. Whisk some eggs with salt and pepper, then add chopped bell peppers, onion, and chopped beef bacon. Pour this mixture into a baking pan and bake until it turns golden brown. Your quiche is ready for the first bite.
There is yet another way!
Try the same batter to make mini breakfast muffins. Simply pour the egg and bacon mixture into the muffin cup and bake. Sometimes I also use this bacon to make hash browns. Just add finely chopped beef bacon to the hash brown batter and cook until golden brown. Voila! Three recipes in no time.
Beef Bacon Sandwich
Let me share a super delicious snack recipe now. Take about 2 slices of beef bacon and sear them gently in a preheated greased pan until they turn brown and crispy. Take two bread slices and spread a layer of butter over the slices. You can use any other spread of your liking, avocado spread or cream cheese spread are two nice options.
After layering the slices, place the seared bacon on top on one bread slice and top with a slice of tomato and lettuce. Then place the other bread slice on top with its butter side down. Cut the sandwich into four equal-sized quarters and stick toothpicks to serve. These bacon sandwiches are the quickest party snacks you can find.
It hardly takes a minute or 2 to cook, and the rest is just setting things up. Use whole wheat bread or brown bread for a healthier combination. Alternatively, use a sliced bun and stuff with layers of bacon and vegetables.
Beef Bacon and Potato Chowder
This recipe can find a good spot in the entrée section of your menu. It is great to serve at lunches and dinners, especially when you are celebrating. Though a chowder can be made out of several ingredients in different recipes, I will not complicate things for you. Let’s keep it simple.
Melt butter in a cooking pan and sauté chopped beef bacon with onion until it turns soft. Then add stock and potatoes. Boil the chowder at this stage and cook on a simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in sweetcorn and milk. Let the boiling continue for a minute then turn off the heat.
Warm and hearty bacon potato chowder is ready to serve. To make it rich and creamy, you can add some cream during cooking or drizzle cheese on top once it is cooked. I add one or two extra vegetables to give more taste and appeal to the chowder. Chopped carrots taste great when added to this chowder, so do sliced mushrooms.
If you are planning to impress your folks at a party, then try these mini beef bacon wraps. These little appetizers are a direct way to get the most out of bacon’s taste. These wraps are made out of nothing but chicken sausages and slices of beef bacon. Add them to the menu whenever you are enjoying homemade fast food.
They complement burgers, pizzas, and nachos. First take the chicken sausages, the size of each piece of sausage should be about the size of a thumb. Now wrap each sausage with beef bacon sliced and arrange all on a large baking tray. Make sure to lightly grease the tray and spray the wraps with cooking spray.
Bake for about 30 minutes in a preheated oven until golden and crispy. To complement their epic taste, make a special barbeque sauce or try some hot sauce or even some yogurt dip. The great thing I like about these wraps is that they can be stored in the freezer for so long. And I simply bake them or use an air fryer whenever I need an instant serving at home.
Since beef bacon is not that common, there are several questions people raise, and their concerns are quite genuine. The greatest of all is the health concern. Many people from different age groups have asked me if they can enjoy homemade beef bacon without any restrictions. To answer them let me give a quick overview of the nutritional components of beef bacon.
When calculated, a single slice of beef can give you 35 calories out of which there are 0 percent carbohydrates, which gives it a green flag for low carb diets, but there is 53 percent fats and 23 percent protein. The amount of sodium calculated was around 150 mg. Considering these values, beef bacon cannot do much harm.
But since it’s red meat, people with Alkaline or acid reflux certainly cannot enjoy it. Same goes for individuals who can not have saturated animal fats due to cardiac complications. However, a small amount once every two weeks will not cost you your good health.
When it comes to a low sodium diet, 1500 mg sodium per day is allowed. If you are not satisfied with this, do not go for normal table salt. Try sea salt in small amounts for curing of the beef. Both salt and sugar are necessary to release all the excess water out of the beef meat.
Since the beef is later washed all the salt, sugar and spices are washed away too. That’s why the end product has a significantly lower amount of sodium in it.
Here are some more concerns people share with me every day which I will attempt to answer in the most relevant manner.
Does beef bacon contain more saturated fats than ordinary bacon?
All animal fats are equally saturated and equally bad. You cannot differentiate beef bacon from pork bacon in terms of their fat content, as both are equally fatty. It all depends which part of the animal meat is used for making the bacon. The bellies of both of the animals contain a good amount of saturated fats.
Can people on Low sodium diet have the beef bacon, cured in salt?
To make it clear, Yes! People on a low sodium diet can fully enjoy beef bacon as the end product is completely free of excess sodium. A very negligible amount is left after washing the cured beef. Avoid using salt during cooking, and the sodium levels won’t exceed dangerous levels.
Can raw beef bacon be preserved after curing?
Yes, beef bacon can be stored and preserved after curing. You can keep it in the refrigerator for 24 hours. For a duration longer than this, seal the beef in a Ziplock bag and freeze it until further use. To smoke the bacon, first defrost it to room temperature and then continue to the next step.
How beef bacon is different from Beef jerky?
I face this question more often than any other. Honestly, if I had no cooking background I would be wondering the same. There are several differences. Off the top of my head is the process of making both the food items. Jerky is made without cooking or smoking, it is made from complete dehydration of the meat whereas bacon is smoked after being cured and dried.
The meat cut used for both items is entirely different. Bacon is a mix of soft and crispy texture, but jerky is firm yet chewy.
It has been a long time that cured pork bacon has been a part of our culinary routine. Sure, that bacon tastes great, but its time that we make room for a new twist with a refreshing taste.
With beef bacon, you can experience both. The best part is that it can be made right at home from scratch. No market-packed, chemically-processed meat on your plate, just pure belly beef!
After passing through the four steps of curing, drying and smoking, the nutritional value of your beef will be further enhanced. Either serve fresh or refrigerate for days. The beef bacon will always surprise you with its crisp and tasty flavor. Take a few hours out of your day and give this recipe a try.