Monday, April 11, 2011

April's Charcutepalooza Challenge: Canadian Bacon

After a disappointing end to March's Charcutepalooza Challenge, I was game to get started right away on April's Challenge -- curing and smoking a pork loin to make Canadian bacon. I asked the butcher at Earth Fare about ordering some local pork loin. It turns out that they keep it on hand so I was able to walk out with about 7 pounds.

Mark Ruhlman's Canadian Bacon recipe calls for a 4 pound pork loin, so I cut it in half before putting it on to brine. I used Ruhlman's brine recipe, with the addition of maple syrup:

Brine for Canadian Bacon

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 1/2 kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 teaspoons Morton's Kosher salt
  • 1 large bunch fresh sage
  • 1 large bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  1. Use a large stock pot or roaster to make the brine, combining all the ingredients, bringing it to a boil, and stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. (After cooling the brine, we decided it would be better to brine the pork in a roaster rather than a stock pot so we transferred the brine and immersed the pork in it.)
  2. Brine the pork for 48 hours in the fridge. Rinsed and dry the pork, wrap it in plastic and place it on a rack in the fridge overnight.

At this point, the Canadian Bacon can either be finished in the over or the smoker.

It was a cool day so the temperature in the smoker never got over 120 degrees. I added more hickory and charcoal in hopes of maintaining the heat for about 5-6 hours. According to Ruhlman, 2-3 hours should have gotten the internal temperature to 150 degrees, but ours still wasn't there so I set the oven to 175 degrees and cooked the loin until the temperature reached the desired internal temp.
It was beautiful!

Here you can see the smoke ring that develops as the smoke penetrates the meat.

I think that the extra time on the smoker was a bit too much. The flavor of the Canadian bacon was good, but I would have preferred it a little less smokey. I'd also add more maple syrup to the brine next time.

The loin was cut into 4 chunks, with three of them going in the freezer. The first of many meals made with our Canadian bacon was a family favorite, Eggs Benedict:

If there was no such thing as cholesterol, we would eat this at least once a week.

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