I apologize for this deceptive title. Canadian bacon isn’t actually Canadian. It’s the same old story – Americans just have to tinker with things, and we seem to have difficulty in naming things accurately! True Canadian Bacon is actually called Peameal Bacon. Peameal Bacon is brined, but not smoked, and it is coated in a meal made from yellow peas. Well, it was coated in peameal, but since cornmeal is more abundant and economical, it was changed. Apparently our cousins to the north are as bad about naming things as we are, because the name never changed to reflect the new coating.
This post is about American Canadian Bacon in all its smoky glory! I like mine on homemade sourdough, toasted, with a nice, soft-basted egg on top. It is an amazing breakfast. At the time I cooked this, I didn’t know how to make English muffins yet. Keeping with the theme, I don’t believe that English muffins are actually English. Just another American marketing ploy, I would assume.
For this first attempt at making Canadian Bacon, I used Morton Tender Quick in a brine at a rate of one cup of Tender Quick per four cups of cool water. I only added some dry thyme to the brine because I wanted to see what flavor the brine would provide to the bacon. That and the smoke! I purchased a whole pork loin from my local HyVee and cut it in half. I placed each half pork loin in a one gallon Zip-loc bag and then added the brine. I expressed as much air as I could and sealed the bags, then placed the sealed bags in a large pot to contain them in the refrigerator for 24 hours. I also turned the bags several times during the brining process to make sure the loins got good contact with the brine. After the brine time was over, I rinsed the loins under cool water and then patted them dry. I put them on a cooling rack on top of a sheet pan and put them in the refrigerator overnight. This drying process is important for good pellicle formation. The pellicle is a thin film of proteins that have come to the surface of the loin, and dry to a sticky consistency. It helps the smoke to adhere to the meat.
After the formation of a pellicle comes the smoking of the loins. I chose to smoke the bacon at about 200F for I wish I could remember how long! I learned here that good note taking is really important. For the wood, I chose a mix of apple and alder woods. I think I went a little crazy at the end of the smoking by adding a small handful of hickory. All I know is that my first effort, though not perfect, was quite good. In fact, I would take it over any store bought Canadian Bacon I’ve ever had. the only problem I noticed was that the meat was a bit salty. I’ll be making this again for sure!
One thing I would like to change next time is to source better pork loin. What you get at the average grocery store these days is a loin that has been severely trimmed and seal in a cryovac bag. There is almost no fat cap, and fat is flavor! Modifying the brine, or better yet, creating my own brine from the ground up is also a must try for me.