Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Canadian Bacon - Second Attempt

Around here, there are many ingredients that are simply unavailable.  Actually, that's a bit of an exaggeration.  Almost everything is available if you are willing to pay the hefty import price.

I'm not willing to pay those prices.  Not when I can make the items myself.  Canadian bacon is so simple ... why should I pay a price that should be reserved only for Kobe beef wrapped in golf leaf?

Of course, it's the simplicity that makes it so difficult.  For me, at least, complex foods are easier.  With simple foods, if you get one thing wrong, everything seems wrong.  Complex foods manage to hide minor errors better.

Now, this particular batch didn't go so well.  The first batch was rather salty, so I cut way back on the salt.  I blame my mother for this failure.  She was the one who said that my previous batch was salty (well, she and others ... possibly including myself).

She claims that she is not at fault here.  When we were discussing this, she mumbled something about me being the one who chose to use only a quarter cup of curing salt.  And, she rambled on about how she might have halved the cure and not dropped it so low.  Blah ... blah ... blah.

Some people might think that she made a couple reasonable points.  To that, I say "hogwash!"  She raised me, it's her fault I cut the salt so much.

Certainly not my fault as I had limited input in cooking this batch.  All I did was buy the pork, prepare the pork, make the brine, inject the pork, brine the pork, smoke the pork, rest the pork, and slice the pork.  She raised me and ate some of the pork.

Any sane person can see that she is clearly the one at fault here.

  • One whole pork loin
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Instacure #1
  • 5 quarts water

Here are the ingredients for my simple brine: brown sugar and Instacure #1. Next time, I'll use a lot more of the pink stuff.

Here's my pork loin.  I was lucky to find a reliable butcher here who would do this for me.  Usually this is cut up quite differently for Filipino foods.  I have to pay a slight premium.  Still, it's worth it.

Here is my loin prepped.  I removed all the membranes, silverskin, most of the fat, etc.  And, I sliced it in two because I planned to try two different techniques.

I mixed my brine ingredients with five quarts of water.  Mixed thoroughly until everything was dissolved.

Then, I took my nifty meat injector (it looks like something right out of a really bad horror flick ... probably something by Troma) and give each piece a full shot of the brine.  I stuck the multi-holed needle right into the middle of my loin.

There are my pork beauties swimming in their brine.  They're covered for their protection and in a stainless steel pot.  Into my big chest fridge for five days.

Here they are after their five day stint in the fridge.  I soaked one of them in water for two hours in the fridge after this.  The other one stay wrapped in plastic in the fridge.

Here they are just started their time in my smoker.  225F (107C) for about five hours.  I took them out when their internal temperatures his 155F (68C).

There they are ... done.  Just not Canadian bacon.  Definitely yummy sandwich meat, though.

Test Results

Looking at the meat, the brine didn't even penetrate.  Disappointing.  I think I used too little salt.  I didn't even bother having the Primary Test Team taste this formally.  We just used it in soups and on sandwiches.

It wasn't that the pork tasted bad.  It was good.  It just wasn't Canadian bacon.

Also, I didn't notice a difference in saltiness between the two.  Probably because the salt didn't even get into them in the first place.

Potential Improvements

Big room for improvement here.  I'm going to increase the cure next time.  Probably do three versions, one with 1/2 cup of cure, one with 3/4 cup, and one with a full cup of cure.

Potential Variations

Lots of variations.  But, I'm going for a simple, slightly sweet Canadian bacon.  I don't want too salty.  So, once I get this down, I'll probably stick to only a single recipe.


Even with this failure, I think I'm closer.  I could taste the sweetness of the brown sugar in the meat.  Very faint, as the brine clearly didn't penetrate.  But, the sweetness was still there.

I'll figure it out.  When I do ... that's one less item that is unavailable here.

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