Canadian Bacon

>> Sunday, March 09, 2014

Today I fired up the smoker and made some homemade Canadian Bacon. This is my second time making this recipe. The first time I picked up the wrong kind of pork loin; they were really small so I had to tie two together in order to increase the diameter. It worked out but didn't slice up as nicely as it would have if it was one piece of larger diameter loin. Regardless, I made my wife a birthday breakfast of Eggs Benedict with the homemade Canadian Bacon and homemade hollandaise sauce. Not to toot my own horn, but it was pretty awesome. I also used some in sandwiches and such.

This recipe is based on one found in Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman. Like a lot of the recipes in the book, this is really simple and yields excellent results. Not everything homemade is better than store bought, but in my opinion this Canadian bacon is heads and shoulders above what you'll find in your local deli.

For the Canadian bacon, you need one 4-5 pound pork loin. The pork loin was brined for about 48 hours then hot-smoked until it reached an internal temp of 150F. The recipe for the brine is as follows:

1.0 gallon water
350 grams Kosher salt
225 grams sugar
42 grams pink salt (Prague powder #1)
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 bunch fresh sage
2 cloves garlic

Combine all brine ingredients in a stockpot. Bring to a simmer and stir until salt and sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool to room temp then chill. Once chilled, add the pork loin (with a plate to keep it submerged) and allow it to brine in the fridge for 48 hours. 

After 48 hours, remove the loin from the brine and rinse well with cold water. Pat dry then place on a wire rack in the fridge for at least an hour and up to 12 hours. This forms a pellicle on the outside of the loin and helps improve the smoking process. Take the loin out of the fridge and allow it to warm to room temp while you get your smoker ready.

As for smoking wood, it really comes down to personal taste. For both batches, I used a blend of hickory, oak, and cherry and really liked the results. That's really about all there is to it. Like I said before, it's pretty simple but very tasty.