Canadian Bacon

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The photo shows sliced and unsliced Canadian bacon (called back bacon in Canada).

Canadian bacon is made from the pork loin, which is a very lean cut of meat.  Because the loin is so lean, the loin is cured in a brine rather than dry cured to make the finished product juicy.  (In fact, I had trouble vacuum-sealing the Canadian bacon since it was so moist that the vacuum pulled moisture into the top and interfered with melting the top into a seal.  I had to freeze the bacon for about 45 minutes before vacuum-sealing it.)

The wet cure using brine was very quick.  I followed a recipe in Smokehouse by Jake Levin.  He recommended 1 day of cure for each 2 pounds of pork loin.  Since Kroger sold the loin in 2 lb. pieces, this meant that the cure took only one day.  4 lbs. of raw pork loin yields about 3.25 lb. of smoked Canadian bacon.

I was planning on smoking the bacon in my Masterbuilt electric smoker at about 200 degrees for an expected 3 hours.  However, the electronics on the smoker seem to have worn/corroded out, and when I plugged it in and programmed it to start, within a minute it had tripped a GFI plug somewhere and turned it and various parts of the house off.  After about 4 tries, I gave up (ordered a replacement box smoker), and smoked the bacon successfully in my Big Green Egg.  I put in the indirect heating insert and tried to keep the temperature between 200 and 225 degrees.  (It was generally on the high side of that range.) It took 1:15 hours to bring the internal temperature of the pork to the target of 150 degrees.

4 quarts water, divided

300 g. fine sea salt

1.5 cups maple syrup

Cure No. 1 or similar cure (per instructions 3 oz. of Cure No. 1 for 4 quarts of water)

4 lbs. boneless, skinless pork loin, in 2 pieces

In a large saucepan, put 2 quarts of water, the sea salt, maple syrup, and Cure No. 1 and bring to a boil.  Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.  Put the pork loin pieces in gallon-sized zip lock baggies.  Divide the curing liquid and put equal quantities in the two baggies.  Add 1 more quart of water to each baggie.  Seal the baggies and put them in a lasagna tray with the seals up.  Use a potato ship bag clip to keep the seals upright and to prevent leaking or spillage.  Brine the loins in the refrigerator for 24 hours.  Then remove the loins from the brine, quickly rinse them off in cold water, pat them dry with paper towels, and put them on a rack in the refrigerator to dry the surface for 24 hours.

The next day smoke them at a target temperature of 200 degrees until they reach an internal temperature of 150 degrees.  Remove the smoked loins from the smoker and allow them to fully cool.  Slice on the number 2 setting on a slice machine.  (This is the same setting I use for Cottage Bacon .


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