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BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling

Making Smoked Canadian Bacon

JMF | Oct 3, 201305:32 PM     23

A few days ago I started some pork loins curing to make Canadian Bacon. When they have cured for about a week I'll smoke them in my Bradley smoker.

I used a basic dry cure, plus additional herbs and dark sugar.

These two dry cures are from Michael Ruhlman's Chartcuterie. 2 ounces/50 grams of the basic dry cure for every five lbs./2.25 kilos of meat.

Basic Dry Cure with granulated sugar
1 pound/450 grams pickling salt/Kosher salt
8 ounces/225 grams granulated sugar
2 ounces/50 grams pink salt = 10 tsp. (InstaCure #1; or DQ Powder; or Prague Powder #1; or Cure #1; or TCM)
Makes about 3-1/2 cups

Basic Dry Cure with dextrose (less sweet than granulated sugar)
1 pound/450 grams pickling salt/Kosher salt
13 ounces/425 grams dextrose
3 ounces/75 grams pink salt = 10 tsp. (InstaCure #1; or DQ Powder; or Prague Powder #1; or Cure #1; or TCM)
Makes about 3-1/2 cups

Dry curing like this needs a minimum of five days, and up to ten days, but six to seven days seems to be best. After the meat is cured it needs to be washed very well to get off all the herbs and cure. Then it needs to be soaked in fresh water for 1-2 hours, changing the water a few times.

After soaking, which removes excess salt and cure, the meat needs to be dried well, and then placed on a tray and left uncovered in the fridge overnight. This dries the surface of the meat out and a sticky film forms on the meats surface. This is called the pellicle, and makes the smoke adhere to and soak into the meat better. Wet meat doesn't take up smoke well. Also the cure is still distributing itself through the meat and averaging out what was removed from the soaking.

When the meat has developed the pellicle I will smoke it. I first bring the smoker up to 150F and place the meat inside and let it sit for 45 minutes without smoke. Then I raise the temp. to 200F or 225F (I still have to see which works best, most folks like 225) and give the meat two hours of smoke. Light smoke would be 1 hour, but I like a medium smoke. More than two hours would be too much. I smoke until the meat has an internal temp. of 140-150F. 140 is the minimum needed, 150 may make it a bit dry. There seems to be a sweet spot of 142-146F that will have the meat fully cooked, but still juicy. Then the meat needs to rest and cool to room temp., this takes about an hour. Then the Canadian bacon needs to be well wrapped in plastic or vacuum sealed and stored in the fridge overnight for the smoke to fully penetrate. 2-3 days is even better. the bacon can stay wrapped in the fridge for up to two weeks. Or well wrapped and frozen for up to six months.

I used a bit more pink salt in my basic dry cure, taking it up to 2.4 oz./68 gm. based on someone whose meat curing skills I trust recommendation. I want to see how it compares to Ruhlman's. The other ingredients are the same, but instead of granulated white sugar I used dark Japanese sugar that I ground up in the food processor.

On 9/28/13 I measured out the dry cure for the total weight of the pork loin. To this I added about 25% more sugar and about 25% more of a bunch of dry herbs I ground up in the spice grinder. Garlic powder, sage, rosemary, celery seed, black pepper, a tiny bit of cumin, etc. I then cut the 8 lb. pork loin into two pieces about 14 inches long, sliced off as much fat as I could, just leaving on a 1/8-1/4" thick layer. Then I rubbed them down on all sides with the weighed cure plus herbs and sugar, and immediately sealed them together in a vacuum seal bag. I then massaged the cure/spice mix into the meat. The meat immediately gave off some juices that melted the salts and sugars and wet down the herbs. I then put the meat into the fridge, making sure that it was just under 40 F where the meat was located. Every day I take out the meat, massage, and place the bag upside down to the way it was before, to distribute the liquids and cure.

On 9/30/13 I did the same for a 5 lb. pork loin. To the cure I added a different blend of herbs and sugar, making a much less spiced version with no garlic.

Here's a pic taken just after the first loin was sealed and massaged. Sorry no other pics, but I will take more as the cure is done.

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