I have blogged a lot about how easy it is to cook good food. However, some projects require time and effort. The results are usually worth it and I have fun in the process. Back bacon is one of those projects. If you aren’t a foodie like me who enjoys the process, you might want to get your back bacon in the supermarket.
I have been making back bacon since I started smoking meat last year. Americans call it Canadian bacon. I have really enjoyed it but I added sugar and brown sugar to my curing method because I like a sweet overtone in my back bacon. However, when I’d cook it, the
sugar would caramelize and over-brown the bacon when I fried it.
In this recipe, I have adjusted the brine I had been using. I cut the brown sugar and added molasses.
To make bacon, you have to cure pork. Curing involves either using a dry cure of sugar, salt and a curing agent or a brine of water, sugar, salt and a curing agent. The curing agent prevents bacteria like botulism from growing during the long smoking periods.
The curing agent most home bacon makers use is a mixture of salt and sodium nitrite at a ratio of 93.75% salt and 6.25% sodium nitrite. This goes by several names; Instacure 1, Prague powder 1, or pink salt are some of the common ones.
Getting the curing agent right is critical. If you use too much, the nitrites can make you sick. If you use too little, you run the risk of allowing micro-organism developing that could make you
If you are going to make this recipe, make sure your curing agent is 6.25% sodium nitrite whatever is called. Also, make sure you adjust the amount of curing agent in the brine so that there is one tablespoon in each gallon of water used. If you make two gallons of brine, use two tablespoons of curing agent. If you make 1/2 gallon of brine, use 1/2 tablespoon of curing agent.
First, buy a pork loin. It doesn’t matter what size. I bought 1/2 of quite a large loin that was on sale.
Next find a container that will hold the loin. I cut my loin in two to fit better. The container can not be reactive metal. Stainless steel is the only metal container you could use. Food grade plastic, glass or ceramic is fine.
Mix your brine. For each gallon of water add the following:
2/3 cup kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 tbsp Prague powder #1 (or other curing agent)
If your pork loin is over 2 inches thick, inject some of the brine into the pork. Supermarkets and kitchen stores sell big hypodermic type injectors. Just suck the brine up and push the needle into the center of the loin and push the plunger slowly until brine comes back out
around the needle. Do this every 1 1/2 inches or so.
Put the loin in the container and pour the brine over it. You need to have enough brine to cover the loin. Make more if you don’t. Put a plate or a plastic bag 1/2 full of water on the loin to keep it submerged. Put the container in the fridge and let it brine for 14 days. I like to turn the loin every 2 or 3 days.
Take the loins out of the brine. Rinse it well and pat dry with paper towels. Put it uncovered in the fridge overnight.
Take the loin out of the fridge and either put it in front of an electric fan for a few hours or put it in a smoker heated to 140 F without smoke. You are trying to totally dry the loin so the smoke flavour will stick. This is called developing pellicle.
At this point, if you don’t have a smoker, you can make an English style bacon by putting the pork in a 200 F oven until the internal temperature is 145 F. It will be nice but it won’t have that nice colour, texture and smoke flavour of back bacon.
I put mine in the smoker for 2 hours at 140 F without smoke. I turned the heat off in the smoker and opened the door for it to cool. When it was totally cool, I cold smoked the loin for 4 hours.
Cold smoking requires the application of smoke without heat. I use a device called an A-MAZE-N Pellet Smoker to produce smoke without turning the smoker on. However you produce smoke, you want the temperature in the smoker to remain below 90 F. You can freeze water in a plastic bottle and put it in a pan to lower the temperature in the smoker if necessary. As I had room and was cold smoking anyway, I smoked a block of cheese with my loins for the first 3 hours. I will do another post on smoking cheese.
I used a mixture of apple, cherry and oak wood to smoke my bacon. You can also use hickory, pecan or other blends.
After cold smoking for 4 hours, I turned the heat up in the smoker to 200 F. I continued to smoke the pork until the internal temperature was 145 F. Please note that 145 F is the lowest temperature that is safe. Make sure you test several places on the loin to make sure it is 145 F throughout.
Remove the loin from the smoker and let it cool for an hour on the counter and then put it in the fridge for a day.
Slice the bacon about 1/8 inch thick. I separate it into portions of about 12 slices each. I wrap each portion in cellophane and then put those packages in a large Ziploc bag and freeze it. I can then just take 12 slices out at a time.
This is excellent bacon. A nice sweet taste without too much saltiness. You’ll note in the picture above that one slice is over browning and the other is just nicely browned The one on
the right is from a prior batch before I cut the sugar and used molasses.
I will be using this brine recipe again. It is very tasty!
The Old Fat Guy.