This morning I have started a new culinary experiment. I am attempting to make bacon myself. Yesterday I purchased a pound of pork belly for about $1.50. I have removed the rink (skin) and it is now bubbling on the stove with some dried black beans on their way to being soup.
The meat was then placed into a ziploc bag and covered by a mixture of salt, brown sugar, pepper, and molassas (maple syrup could have been used but I don't have any). All the extra air was pushed out of the bag so that the meat was easily immersed in the "brine". I double bagged it for insurance against leaks and placed it in the frig. I now need to turn it and massage the brine into the meat every day for the next 5-7 days. Once it has brined long enough I rinse the meat, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze until we want to eat it.
No, it does not need to be smoked, although it could be. Most bacon you buy in the store isn't smoked either. They just use chemicals to give it the smokey flavor. Everything I have read says the bacon will taste great without smoking and since we have modern refrigeration it doesn't have to be smoked to preserve it. I will let you know what I think of the results in a week or so.
I see bacon and eggs in my future. Or a bacon sandwich. Or both. :)