Sure, you love it on pizza, but you probably have no idea how to make Canadian bacon…and you may not even be exactly sure what it is. In the U.S., most Canadian bacon is cured and smoked, like ham, but in Canada, the cured meat is often rolled in cornmeal and then cooked. The US Department of Agriculture allows for either, defining “Canadian bacon” as cooked or uncooked product made from a trimmed boneless pork loin. This recipe lets you to make Canadian bacon that is cured and then cooked or smoked, and it produces a savory, meaty-tasting bacon. Once you’ve mastered it, you can adjust the brine to make your Canadian bacon sweeter, or you can add fresh or dried herbs. You can even make Canadian bacon with a cayenne kick! Just follow a few easy steps, and then dig in to the deliciousness!
To make Canadian Bacon, you’ll need:
- 1 gallon (16 cups) of water
- ½ cup kosher salt
- 1 cup sugar or brown sugar
- 8 teaspoons of nitrite salt or pink salt
- 4 crumbled bay leaves
- 8 crushed juniper berries;
- 3 smashed cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper;
- 4 – 5 pounds of pork loin, trimmed
- A very large stock pot
- A frying pan (for cooking)
- A meat thermometer ( for smoking)
- An oven or meat smoker (for smoking)
- Prepare the brine to make your Canadian bacon. In a stockpot, combine the water with the salt, sugar, nitrite salt, bay leaves, juniper berries, garlic, and black pepper. Heat the mixture over high heat, stirring it until the sugar and salts dissolve. Remove the pan from the heat and let the brine cool slightly. Then, move the pan into the refrigerator and chill the brine completely.
- Place the pork loin into the brine, making sure it’s entirely submerged. You may need to put a small plate or some other kind of weight on top of the loin to keep it completely covered by the brine. Refrigerate the brine and pork loin for 2 days.
- Take the pork out of the brine and rinse it off well. Cut off a small piece and panfry it to check the taste. If the meat is too salty, put the loin into a pot of cold water for about a half hour. Taste it again, and repeat the soaking process with fresh water if necessary.
- At this point, your meat is cured, but you still need to cook your Canadian bacon before eating it. Slice it thinly and fry it, steam it, or add it to soup. You can store the cured loin in the refrigerator, or you can freeze it.
- If you prefer to make smoked Canadian bacon, let the loin rest in the refrigerator for 12 – 24 hours. When a pellicle, or a thin film, has formed on the meat, it’s ready to smoke.
- Smoke your Canadian bacon in a smoker or in the oven until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 145ºF. If you use a smoker, prepare it to a heat of 200ºF and smoke your meat for about 8 hours. If you don’t have a smoker, slowly heat your Canadian bacon in a 200 degree oven, testing it with a thermometer until it reaches 145ºF. At this point, the meat is safe to eat hot, reheated, or cold and can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Once you make Canadian bacon, you can use it myriad ways. Of course, it makes a great pizza topping, but you can also layer it into Eggs Benedict or add it to a frittata. It’s also delicious baked into a casserole or a quiche, and you can even slice it as deli meat and add it to a salad or a sandwich. Enjoy!
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