Back At It Again – Canadian Bacon

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).

My Old Smokey electric smoker. Easy, convenient and cheap off craigslist

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.

Pork loin all ready to be smoked

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

Eggs Benedict from 'scratch'


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.

Poached duck eggs. The egg on the left was cracked into the poaching liquid. The egg on the right was first strained to get rid of the looser whites (although I went a little overboard this time around)

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.

Laksa with... Canadian Bacon
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My Breakfast of Champs is an English One

Oh the delights of the full English breakfast. One of my favorite things to do on a weekend morning is to whip up one of these hearty bad boys, crack open a Guinness, and watch a game of English football (aka soccer.)

 

For the uninitiated, the full English breakfast can consist of several delicious components:

 

Baked beans – Heinz is my way to go

Bacon – Home made if you have it, thick cut preferable

Sausage – I’m more partial to the English style sausages which are more similar to brats than the typical American breakfast sausage

Eggs – I like over easy

Potato – in the form of hash browns, fried diced potatoes etc.

Bread – Toast or some kind of bread for soaking up that goodness

Fried tomatoes – sounds weird but it’s all so good

Mushrooms – Sliced up or whole and sautéed

Black pudding – Can be hard to get. I love them but some find them gross

 

That’s a lot of components but not every ingredient needs to be included. I tend to be pretty contented with baked beans, bacon, sausage, eggs and mushrooms. Potatoes are great but I get too lazy to make hash browns. I also love a good fried tomato, they’re just not the greatest thing in February.

 

Of course, you could go to an English or Irish pub to get one. I’ve had many great ones but I’ve also had my fair share of sloppily prepared full breakfasts.

 

So why not make it at home? It seems like with so many components, putting a full breakfast together can be tedious. However, with some planning and coordination, putting together a full breakfast is painless and delicious. The best part is consuming it in the comfort of your own home, where falling asleep on the couch after the game gives an added incentive.

 

Also, I started to realize that I have a hard time following wordy recipes. When reading a recipe or coming up with a dish, I tend to focus on the components and techniques before sometimes jotting it down. This is how preparing an English breakfast would look like in my mind: