Friday, April 15, 2011

Baby Got Back Bacon

Now, you may know today's bacon by another name, Canadian Bacon, but don't call it that.  I have now done extensive research and testing and have found that in asking two (2) persons from Canada, neither was aware of what Canadian bacon was.  So, what you are making today is really Back Bacon, owing its nomen to the fact that it is derived from the center cut pork loin, which is from the back of the pig.  

Back bacon is a very cool product, and is a kind of hybrid form that combines the Mother Brine and the Dry cure from the Belly Bacon.  It also uses a more readily available cut of pork, and takes less time.  The best of all worlds!

Back Bacon

- 1 Beautiful Pork Loin (not tenderloin)*
- 2 L / 2 Quarts of Water (The amount is important, so I am including it)
- 75 g / 3 oz. Salt
- 30 oz / 1 oz. Pink Curing Salt (see my bacon post for more info)
- 110 g / 3.5 oz Sugar
- Creative but restrained seasonings and flavorings (Sage, Rosemary, and Lemon are nice pork counterpoints, but you can just go with some bay leaf and peppercorn too)
For this product, if you would like, you can leave out your Sodium Nitrite, but know that your loin will end up a somewhat greyish brown color and have a bit less piquancy.  It is fine to use in this form, but perhaps add a bit more regular salt if you intend to leave out the Nitrite.

So, to start, make your brine by boiling the water, adding the salts, sugar, and spices and allowing it to truly find itself over the course of a couple hours while it cools.  I like to let it cool to about room temperature on the stove, and then stick it in the fridge to really get it to the point where it is not going to cook the pork at all.  This would be ideal.  One other possibility would be to boil only half of the water, dissolve the components, and then add the other half as cold water to really pull the temp down quick.  This way seems to cheat the process and the flavor-making a bit, so don't do it unless you are really in a pinch.

After cooled, add your pork loin.  It should be heavy enough to sink, and lurk just below the surface of your briny cure like a hippo or a Zambezi River Log (for Andrew L. if he should be reading).  Let it lurk for 72 hours.  Then, allow it to come up for air.  Put it on a rack in the fridge to dry out a bit.  The outside should feel a tad tacky, and this is perfect.

The final step is to either smoke or roll your bacon.  You have the basics of smoking elsewhere on the blog, but smoke this guy to somewhere in the 65º C / 150º F range.  For rolling, you can get some cornmeal, and heavily roll the loin in it.  Then, roast in a very gentle oven (135º C / 275º F) for a couple of hours, until the temp is about the same.  Slice thinly or thickly and enjoy. The above picture is my cured, but not yet smoked back bacon.  Three days! Back Bacon! 

* Pork tenderloin is a delicious, thin cut of meat great for medallions and searing, but don't mistake it for its tougher cousin the back loin, which is from the meat all along the ribcage.  Get a pork loin from a happy pig and you will be rewarded with a happy slab of bacon.  Get a whole loin, which should run about 3-4 lb. depending on the size of the kind pig that gifted you with it.  This way, you have 3-4 pounds of wonderful back bacon.

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