Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Canadian Bacon, Eh!

(Personal note: I'm sorry it has been a long time since I posted on here, I haven't cooked or cut a vegatable since February. The past month was a busy time with work resulting in long days. But I'm back and I'm ready to kick off Grilling Season!)

To continue my quest into the different worlds of bacon, I decided to try a type of bacon that may get overlooked more than other types of bacon. From our friendly neighbors to the North, I bring you homemade Canadian Bacon!

With the NHL Playoffs on the horizon and MLB Opening Day a few days past, it is time to fire up Grilling Season.

After reading much praise about Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn, I purchased the book and read through it for a month. To start off easy, the cured smoked pork loin seemed like a good place to start.

Thanks to Ruhlman and Polycn's wonderful book, you'll read and see more recipes here in the future.

Canadian bacon is different from slab bacon. It is not from the belly of the pig. It is created by using a pork loin and the loin is brined with a curing salt and herbs before it is smoked. This type of pork is usually quite lean and flavorless so it was a small challenge to amp up the bite.

Here is the recipe: (quantities may differ depending on size of Pork Loin)
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1.5 cups kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1.5 ounces pink salt (8 teaspoons)
  • 1 bunch fresh sage
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed
  • 4 lb boneless pork loin, all fat/sinew removed
  1.  Combine all brine ingredients in a large pot and bring to a simmer to dissolve salt and sugar. Remove from heat and allow to cool, then refridgerate until chilled.

2. Place the pork loin in the brine and weight it down with a plate to keep it submerged. Refridgerate for 48 hours. I have read that over-brining meats can cause it to be quite salty and there is nothing to do to fix it. I brined it for maybe 55 hours.

3. Remove loin from the brine and rinse it under cold water and pat dry. Place on a rack over a plate in refridgerater uncovered for a day. If you can hang it, this also helps it dry quicker allowing more air to get at the loin.

4. Hot-smoke the loin to an internal temperature or 150 degrees, 2 to 3 hours. Allow to cool and refridgerate up to ten days.

I keep adding charcoal and hickory wood chips every half hour to keep a good internal grill temp. It is helpful to have a grill grate that has side doors to add coals and chips.

This is about 1.5 hours of smoking. Keep an eye on your grill vents, the more open they are, the more air travels through creating a hotter grill. Also, avoid the temptation of peaking and lifting the cover, heat escapes!

Since it was my Opening Day of Grill Season, I was made a few errors, but after making some adjustments, I hit my internal temp of 160 degrees. After about 2.5 hours, my canadian bacon was done. I let it cool but my patience ran out, I had to thin slice up the bacon and eat!

The three pound pork loin created a lot of bacon. The smoking element is key to making a tasty homemade canadian bacon. If you don't have a smoker/grill, you can cook it in a low oven at 200 degrees until you reach your internal temperature. But the smoke really gives it a great flavor and makes it standout in my opinion.

Since this was my first try, I think I would be more careful with my amounts of salt and pink salt. I probably added to much since my pork loin was smaller than the original recipe calls for. Be careful when using pink salt. It contains nitrates and too much nitrate is not a good thing.

I don't know a lot of recipes for canadian bacon other than breakfest and pizza. I'm sure there are great ones out there but I was running out of time so a quick lunch would do. Cast-iron eggs and crispy bacon.

I'll say it was an easy step into Charcuterie. I'm sure they are tastier canadian bacons out there but it was fun to try to make my own. Give it a try.


  1. Cheers! Considering where I live, I don't have to travel far to find world-class charcuterie and/or streaky bacon. I've had plenty of "bacon" made by friends, made from many pork portions. The huge difference for me is from hot smoking versus cold smoking. This is why I haven't tried my own. I want cold smoked bacon, of any variety. I do have a rig that's close to being ready for cold smoking, but it isn't there yet. Have you considered venturing in to the world of cold smoking?

    xo, Biggles

  2. That should be Eh!..not Ey! You don't want it to sound stupid.

  3. thanks Duncan, I'll change it. don't want to sound stupid!