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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Canadian Bacon or Back Bacon

Our local Supermercado Coopeatenas has just started to carry Hormel Canadian Bacon. It has been reported to be selling for around $15 USD per pound, or ¢16,500 CRC per kilo. Now we love Canadian Bacon and we haven’t had it in years, but $15 per pound it just a little beyond our normal budget.

This got me thinking, that if we could brine a ham, we should be able to cure bacon. How hard can it be? I started searching the internet and found a couple of similar recipes that would work with the ingredients in my pantry.

So here you have it… A lean pork loin is soaked in a salty-sweet maple cure then smoked, sliced, and pan-fried. The end result is better than we imagined and so much better than the imported store-bought. We will be making this frequently.

Update 10/4/2020: Started another batch of bacon in a maple cure today with a boneless Pork Loin we picked up at a great price. It was around $2.10 per pound. Combining this with the ingredients needed for the brine, our cost will even out to about $2.35 per pound.

Update 9/23/2019: Started another batch of bacon brining today with a beautiful boneless Pork Loin we picked up at a great price. It was around $3.30 per pound. Combining this with the ingredients needed for the brine, our cost will even out to about $3.55 per pound. I don't think we will ever buy the pre-packaged ABC (Already Been Chewed) meat called Canadian Bacon ever again. (4.41 kg = 9.7 lb for ¢18,514, or $31.92. $31.92 + $2.50 for the brine ingredients = $34.42. $34.42 / 9.7 = $3.55 Cost per pound) This meat will sit in its bathwater for 4 days before we smoke it. 

Update 7/1/2016: We have been tweaking this recipe every time we make it trying to adjust the level of smokiness and moisture for our taste. Today we nailed it and the results are absolute perfection! We had the butcher sell us an entire 6-kilo pork loin, including the pork chop bones. He trimmed off the bones with enough meat still on them for me to fix a delicious dinner of roasted pork with potatoes and onions. This left us with a good 3 kilos of lean pork loin to brine for bacon. Our net cost came to about $34 for 6.6 pounds of meat or $5 per pound.

1 gallon of water, divided into 1 quart & 3 quarts
1 cup kosher or pure salt, coarse or fine grind will work because it will be dissolved in the brine.
1 cup maple syrup (imitation maple will also work)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons pink curing salt, or 1 level teaspoon for every 5 pounds of meat (aka InstaCure or Prague Powder. This is called "Sal de Cura" in Costa Rica and I have found it at the Alajuela Central Market at vendor booth #34)
4 bay leaves
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
4 medium cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 tablespoon of peppercorns
1 boneless pork loin, trimmed of excess fat (about 8 to 10 pounds). A thin layer of fat will caramelize and add flavor when the bacon is fried.
1 to 2 large chunks of light smoking wood, such as apple, pecan, lemon or coffee wood

Make the brine by combining 1 quart of water, salt, maple syrup, brown sugar, pink curing salt, bay leaves, rosemary, garlic, and peppercorns in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve all the salt and sugar. Boil for about a minute.

Pour 3 quarts of very cold water into a large container (I use an inverted plastic cake safe). Add the brine mixture and when it is completely chilled, submerge the pork into the cure. If the meat tries to float, place a heavyweight on top of it to keep it in the brining solution. Place the container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Turn the pork over every day to make sure it cures evenly.

Remove the pork from the cure and dispose of the brining solution. Fill the container with fresh cold water and submerge the pork again for a minimum of 90 minutes. Remove pork from the water and pat it dry with paper towels.

Heat your smoker or grill to about 165°F and when it at temperature, add the wood chunks for smoke and place the pork in the smoker. It is best to use indirect heat for this process. Smoke the pork for 1 hour in the smoker. While the meat is smoking, preheat the oven to 185°F. Move the meat from the smoker to the oven to continue cooking it uncovered. When the internal temperature of the thickest part of the meat reaches 145-150°F, it’s done. This should take about 2 or 3 hours.

Let the bacon come to room temperature in a covered container. Thoroughly wrap it in plastic wrap and chill the bacon for several hours before attempting to slice.

Pan fry and enjoy!

Eggs Benedict with homemade Canadian Bacon
and homemade Sourdough English Muffins

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