April’s Charcutepalooza challenge was hot smoking pork loin or pork shoulder, to make Canadian bacon or taso ham. I went with Canadian bacon.
WTF is Canadian bacon?
Also known as back bacon, it’s bacon made from center-cut boneless pork loin. What we usually get at grocery stores is streaky bacon, made from pork belly. The curing process of both bacons is generally rather similar. First off, the meat is cured in a salt and spice mixture or a brine for a few days. The meat is then rinsed off, left to dry a little and then smoked.
WTF is Hot Smoking?
Generally, there are three kinds of smoking and they are mainly differentiated by the temperature. This is what I picked up in reading up from books and the Internet (especially Wikipedia).
Cold smoking occurs below 100F. It imparts flavor but doesn’t cook the food.
Hot smoking occurs between 165-185F. It cooks the food (duh).
Smoke roasting is pretty much like roasting but with smoke. It can go in access of 250F
And of course, we can vary the characteristic of the smoke with not just the temperature but also the type of wood being used.
Making Canadian Bacon
The process, as mentioned, involved salting, drying and smoking.
I was actually a little excited for this project because after months of anticipation, a certain grocery storejust opened up in my neighborhood.
I would give a review of Revival Market but so much has already been done and I probably wouldn’t do it any justice with my words. All I can say is that if you’re in Houston, just go.
This project would mark my first purchase from the store, and what more appropriate an item than some pork.
Now back to the making of the bacon. As with my Charcuterie projects so far, I adapted the recipe from Ruhlman and Polcyn’s Charcuterie. I brined the pork loin for 3 days. Nothing new here since I’ve talked about brining before. Then I dried it in my fridge for a day. Then I smoked it with apple wood in my electric smoker. Sounds easy? Good, because it is.
WTF do you do with Canadian Bacon
I guess the most common application would be Eggs Benedict. It’s just a combination of things you know will go well together – English muffins, poached eggs, Canadian bacon, and Hollandaise sauce. A basic recipe and video can be found on the Culinary Institute of America’s website here.
What’s cool about Eggs Benedict is it’s fairly simple to make. Plus it looks elegant and impressive. At the same time, with so many components, going through the exercise of making one can be a great way to work on technique –making a dough, poaching an egg and making a hollandaise sauce.
Oh by the way, here’s a tip when poaching eggs to make them look good without flyaway whites – drain the thinner whites off. You could do that with a slotted spoon or a strainer.
Of course, eggs Benedict isn’t the only application for Canadian bacon. You could treat it like regular bacon in an English breakfast, use it in a fried rice, or even a pizza.
And to show you the versatility of Canadian Bacon, here’s one thing I did. I used it in laksa. Wait, what?
(Laksa is one of my favorite dishes from Singapore. It’s noodles in a thick and spicy coconut broth. )
Simply poach the Canadian bacon and add on top as a garnish. Too much of a good thing? Nah, not too much yet.