Canadian Bacon is , or perhaps is not, bacon depending on how much brand loyalty you have. While traditional bacon is made of meat from pork bellies, Canadian bacon is from a pork loin. Traditional bacon is cold cured, while Canadian bacon is hot cured. Normal bacon is mostly fat, while Canadian bacon has little fat; so you decide. Canadian bacon is a salt cured pork loin soaked in a spice brine for five days. It is then hot smoked for a few hours and is then ready to eat. At least that’s the American version of Canadian Bacon, and while we Yanks may not have invented this non-bacon bacon, we certainly don’t have any qualms about helping our neighbors to the north improve on their recipe.
Like store bought regular bacon, Canadian bacon has to be refrigerated and can be frozen for long-term storage. Like any recipe, there are many variations, such as substituting the brown sugar in this recipe for maple syrup, that is when the Canooks are willing to share their strategic reserves. You can also substitute Bourbon for the gin to give it more of an American flare, or not using alcohol at all (I can’t believe I just suggested that). Usually pork loins are expensive, though not as expensive as bacon, but my local grocer just put pork loins on sale for $1.99/lb and given that store bought bacon is currently trading at over $7/lb, I’m stocking up on loins……and after smoking a few for Cubano sandwiches, I figure I might as well make bacon.
- 1,000 g Pork loin – fat trimmed off
- 242 g Brown sugar
- 315 g Kosher salt
- 1.7 g Curing salt #1
- 7 g Fresh garlic cloves
- 1.8 g Pepper corns
- 25 g Gin
- 2 Bay leaves
- 1 gal Water – cold
- Mise en Place – measure and prepare your ingredients prior to starting.
- Heat 1 quart of water to a boil and remove from heat.
- Add all the spices , except gin, and let soak for 5 mins
- Add mixture to the remaining 3 quarts of cold water put in frig to chill.
- Trim fat from pork loin and soak in brine for 5 days. Reposition every day to insure an even marinade.
- Put a cooling rack in a baking tray and place the loin on the rack for 30 mins. to dry and warm.
- Heat smoker to 225 F.
- For breakfast bacon you intend to cook, smoke until the internal temp is 145 F, ~2.5 hours
- For fully cured bacon, smoke until the internal temp is 160 F., ~3 hours
- Let cool in the smoker.
- Place in frig if using within two weeks, otherwise, vacuum seal and store in freezer indefinitely.
Canadian bacon is actually only called that in America, the Canadian’s call it “peameal bacon,” which is a name so obviously in need of rebranding, so you’re welcome Canada, your southern neighbors are tossing you a solid with the whole deal about marketing under the pseudo name Canadian bacon. The origins of Canadian bacon probably date back to the early to mid 1800’s when there as a shortage of pork in England, and the Brits needed meat to go with all those potatoes they were confiscating from the Irish. So, the Brits started importing cured pork from their loyal colony that had yet to break away like those damn rebel Yanks to the south. A distinction between American Canadian bacon and Canadian peameal bacon is that the Canadians don’t smoke or hot cure the meat, they just brine it and then cook the semi-cured meat before eating. The reason Canadians call their bacon peameal is that after the brine process is complete, they roll the pork loin in corn meal. So you’re probably wondering, why not call their bacon cornmeal bacon? Well, like any good historical conundrum, there’s a story….back in the day, there was not much maze growing in the provenances, keep in mind, corn is a southwestern American crop. So what the Canadians did, because they have a lot of time to think about stuff in those long winters of isolation, is they dried and crushed peas into a meal and coated the pork loin in that to help preserve it….at least that’s the story they’re standing behind.