Sunday, December 2, 2012

Homemade Canadian Bacon

I've wanted to cure and smoke my own Canadian Bacon for several years.

Problem was that most recipes I saw used Morton Tender Quick or Morton's Sugar Cure and I couldn't find either locally.  I kept meaning to order some but just never got around to it.   Homemade Canadian or "back bacon" seemed destined to spend an eternity on my food "bucket list".

That all changed when this recipe recently fell into my lap.  It only uses salt and pink salt as the main curing agents and I can find that at my regular grocery store, Food City.

Canadian Bacon

by Adapted from Make the Bread, Buy the Butter

Ingredients (2 lbs)
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  • 2 Tbsp pink salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 lb boneless pork loin
  1. Make the brine. In a large pot, heat 3 quarts of water, salts, and sugars until the salt and sugar is well dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool at least to room temp. Best practice is to chill it to 40f.
  2. Place the pork loin in a container. Stir the vanilla extract into the cold brine and stir. Pour over the pork to cover. Place in refrigeration and let brine for 48 hours.
  3. Remove from brine, rinse thoroughly, and pat dry. Place on a raised rack and put back in refrigeration UNCOVERED to air dry for 24 more hours.
  4. Remove pork from refrigeration. Set up a smoker for a 250f cook using either hickory, fruit wood, or a blend of both. Smoke pork loin until it reaches an internal temperature of 150f. This took just over 2 1/2 hours for mine.
  5. Allow to rest and cool. Place in a Glad zip top gallon bag and refrigerate at least 8 hours.
  6. Slice thinly and serve as desired.
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Use a container small enough so that the liquid covers the meat completely.  Use a plate to keep the meat submerged.

After curing and air-drying.  You could only see slight coloration changes.
 Here are the times and temps from my cook.  I smoked mine on my Big Green Egg using cherry wood at 250f.

Time (min) Cooker Temp (f) Internal Temp (f)
0 225 40
30 225 60
60 250 95
90 250 118
120 250 138
150 250 148
159 250 150

After smoking.  That's the color I was looking for!

It slices much easier after refrigeration. 

I was worried how this would turn out.  Concerned enough that I bought a pack of Canadian Bacon as insurance for my Eggs Benny this morning.
The worry was for nothing, this turned out fantastic.  The bacon had the best smoke flavor I have ever had in Canadian Bacon.  Not too strong but definitely a key player.  It also had that salty/sweet taste I expect without being the slightest bit "hammy".  I used it to make Trevor a pair of egg mcmuffins and he loved them.  I made Alexis and me Eggs Benedict and I was very impressed.  
So where did I find this recipe?  From a book that I received to review from Simon and Schuster. 

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter
What you should (and shouldn't!) cook from scratch to save time and money
This book is so much more than a "cookbook".  The whole premise is about not just CAN and HOW you make something yourself, but whether you SHOULD bother.  I have to say up front, this is probably one of the most practical books I have gotten in 2-3 years and it is a fun read as well
Author, Jennifer Reese (The Tipsy Baker blog), takes us through her trial and error journey of making things at home instead of buying them at the grocery store and gives us her wit and wisdom about her experiences.  She shares our pain.  Anyone interested in food sometimes compelled to make everything from scratch.  But is making it from scratch really worth it?  Maybe not.  

The book walks through 120 "how to's" and in the end, makes a judgement call on whether it is better to buy it or make it yourself.  I like that the judgement is subjective and isn't only based on cost per ounce.  Jennifer also takes into consideration quality and the hassle.   Sometimes the buy it vs make it recommendation fit what I expected but just as often I was surprised. Either way, you know WHY she reached that decision so you can decide for yourself. 

Alexis and I both thumbed through the book it it was full of "Ooooh, I always wanted to make THAT at home" ideas.  I would list them but there are too bleeping many!  Trust me, if you are into food at all, you are going to like this book.  

But what really keeps the book entertaining as well as functional is the fun and humor that Jennifer injects into her trials, like this excerpt from her attempts to raise her own turkey.

We loved her instantly, perhaps because she was such a tragic figure.  If a turkey could get a bad boob job, smoke a pack a day, and drink three martinis with every lunch, she would resemble this wheezing, sclerotic bird.
I could go on and on about the genius of this book but you would yawn and move on.  So I will say this.  I like this book so much that I am going to buy a copy for one of you.

This isn't sponsored by the publisher, I'm going spend my own dime (or 150 dimes as it were) to give away a copy of Make The Bread, Buy The Butter.   TO ENTER, leave a comment about ONE item you have always wanted to make at home and whether you think the end result would be better to BUY IT or MAKE IT.  (for example:  I have always wanted to make my own English Muffins but it's probably better to BUY IT.)

Entries close on 12/8/12 at midnight Eastern time.  I will draw one random comment on 12/9/2012 and buy that person a copy of Make The Bread, Buy The Butter.  Good luck!  

Drawing Winner
The 21st comment was the random winner.  Cloudfish, please contact me with shipping details.  I can't find contact info on your profile or blog.  Thanks!! 

[Standard Disclaimer]  I received a copy of this book for free but I'm buying one in the giveaway so that makes us even, just in case the FTC is watching.  Yeah, that's how I roll, stickin' it to "the man"!  


  1. Are you familiar with the book "Charcuterie" by Michael Ruhlman and another guy? I used to own it and it didn't make the trip to DC. Good source for home curing and smoking.

  2. Bev mentioned just today that I should make a batch and I've always used the tenderquick for a dry cure. I'll give this a try and assume the pink salt is the pink curing agent I have on hand - Insta cure #1.

  3. Larry, it is actually just Himalayan pink salt. I used the cheap Food Club brand from Food City. And by cheap I mean $9 for 8 oz. :)

    1. "Pink salt" is actually curing salt, its pink color is to distinguish it from regular salt because they are two totally different things. It's sodium nitrate/nitrite as opposed to.table salt, which I think is sodium chloride (?). I've actually found it at Williams-Sonoma! Kudos to you though since it sounds like your stuff turned out great with just the regular salt you used, I'm looking forward to making my own now! :)

  4. The item I would make at home would be a Big Green Egg.Since this will never happen, maybe this will be the year Ms. Goofy buys me one for Christmas.

  5. I'm glad you were finally able to make it Chris! You're a rock star. Funny you should mention english muffins - just bought a whole bunch of rings to make my own. They probably won't be as good as buying them - yeast/bread baking is not high on my list of talents.

  6. LOL, cracking up at your disclaimer Chris!! Man, that Canadian Bacon sure looks great. I could go for some of that on a homemade egg muffin! One thing that I have always wanted to make at home is my great grandmother's strudel - not the kind with the puff pastry dough, but the kind that had the homemade scratch dough that she stretched so thin across a dining room table that you could read a newspaper through it! Then she'd butter it up and load it with a cinnamon nut filling and roll it up. Mama sure got misty eyed when she talked about the memories of her mother making it. I'm sure the end result would be much better - I'm just not sure I'll ever experience it.

  7. I had no idea you could smoke your own Canadian bacon. How cool.

    I've always wanted to make my own mustard. I saw a recipe once a zillion years ago in Gourmet, but of course I lost it. We make Chinese hot mustard sauce out of dry mustard and water. I'm talking about Dijon kind of mustard. I wonder if there is a recipe in the book for it...

    I read the reviws on Amazon and it sounds like a fun book.

  8. I love finding ways to make regular store bought products at home! The Canadian bacon seems easy enough... I bet it was fantastic! And the book... Love this giveaway!! And funny that you say it, because I have always wanted to make English muffins at home.. I have two different recipes for it that I've had for years and I still have not made them. I think they would kick Thomas' butt!!!!

  9. This looks delicious, Chris. Way better than any store bought Canadian bacon for sure!

    I have always wanted to try making puff pastry. I have collected several recipes over the years, but in the end I always resort to good quality store bough frozen puff pastry. I've never had homemade puff pastry, so I don't know if it would be worth the trouble to make it myself, but do I think homemade always tastes best. That said, I don't think the end result would be worth it when it's so time consuming to make it and I can purchase good quality store bought pastry in the freezer section of my market!

    Kim in MD

  10. I had no idea an American could make Canadian bacon - way to go! Like "Anonymous," I have always wanted to make my own puff pastry...I'm curious what the book has to say about that! And I'd like to make my own ketchup!

  11. This isn't so much what I would like to make but should buy, but what I just CAN'T make -- I've tried dozens of times to make those darned "no bake" cookies with oats, butter, milk, sugar, vanilla and peanut butter but then have NEVER SET UP. My sister does it exactly the same way I do and she can't get hers out of the bowl because they set up so quickly.

    So I buy them at the store. :(

  12. fresh mozzarella, i know it would be easy but the place next to me sells some AWESOME in-house made. funny though, i do make my own butter and there isn't much difference in the making of either.

  13. I have always wanted to make my own marshmallows, but I am scared to mess them up, tried to make a caramel once (well would have been lots of them, but you know what I mean) and I totally burned the pot! Scared me off making candy.

  14. I have always wanted to make my own bacon. I'm not sure it would be worth the effort because the quantity it creates is more bacon than my wife and I can actually consume. Also I'd need to buy a smoker (shucks... I'd HAVE to buy a smoker you say?)...

  15. I think the Canadian Bacon looks amazing and so much tastier than store bought!

    Great giveaway - the book sounds like a great read. I've always wanted to try making homemade gnocchi but still haven't given it a try. I have a feeling making it from scratch is way worth the time & effort.

  16. Love, love, love Canadian bacon never ever thought of making it! I always wanted to make my own puff pastery but it seems way too hard.

    This book sounds great. Thanks for the giveaway offer.

  17. I've always wanted to stuff my own sausages. This weekend I ground up 6 pounds of pork and seasoned it for Spicy Italian and am going home tonight to try my hand at sausage stuffing.

  18. Chris. What a great post! This is a terrific method and I will try it shortly. By the way, next time you visit your father in law and fish, tell him you want to travel east to Destin where the BIG fish are!

  19. We just started making Canadian Bacon in the last year - cure it in the fridge for 10 days - NO Vanilla - - EWWW! We have Tender Quick available in our area - I'll send ya some!

  20. Boudin. I'd forgotten I'd had it before--and how good it was--until I saw it again on Duck Dynasty. Until I can find fresh pork liver for the recipe, I will have to fire up the smoker and make some Canadian Bacon!

  21. I never thought of making my own Canadian Bacon, but will have to try it soon.
    I have always wanted to make my own sausages.

  22. Goat cheese! It's pretty easy, and the final result is so good. It's probably cheaper than buying it too, but in the long run, it's much easier to buy it.

  23. I would never have thought that vanilla was involved in curing canadian bacon...then again, I've also never had canadian bacon.

  24. Love your blog!

    I love to make pasta, and noodles are pretty easy, as are cavatelli (with teh right machine)


    Raviolis are always something I would love to try at home, but still buy from store due to difficulty at home!


  25. Chris - I'd love to make my own Canadian bacon and regular bacon. In fact, I got the book Charcuterie, but haven't had time to get into it yet. Soon, soon.

    I was thinking it was kind of funny that you can't find Morton Tender Quick but you could find pink salt. I have the opposite problem, but then I read that you meant Himalayan pink salt and not like Insta Cure #1 (which I finally broke down and ordered a bag of.

  26. When I was young, my mom made fresh flour tortillas weekly, and they were incredible. I would like to make tortillas like my mom used to. I think the only reason I haven't is becuase you can buy a dozen pretty decent tortillas at the store for a couple of bucks and I think it would take me a couple of hours to make probably very marginal tortillas. LOL! Kirk from AlbuKirky is a friend of mine and directed me to your blog over a year ago; I really enjoy it! Thanks!

  27. Happy someone put effort into these burning questions. Rachael Ray magazine puts out one in each magazine. Store bought pesto won for quality equivalent of home made. My choice is Marinara. Chuck Hughes of Chuck's Day Off has encouraged me to grow some extra cherry tomatoes for marinara without a trip to the store. Mostly excited about finding out what Canadian Bacon really is. More excited to know that it gives me one more reason to smoke something. Looking forward to egg McMuffins from my kitchen!!!!

  28. Marinara! Chuck Hughes of Chuck's Day Off made it look super easy. Ready to grow some extra cherry tomatoes for Marinara anytime. Really excited to know what Canadian Bacon originates as. Even more excited that it means I get to smoke something. Can't wait for Egg McMuffins from my kitchen.

  29. Vanilla?!? Who'd'a' thunk it? Did you notice it in the finished product? Great pics, BTW.

    Real pork-belly bacon is still on my bucket list.

  30. I've always wanted to make me own cheese - and I'm actually going to try making some. Then I'd probably smoke it and I think it could be reeeeaaly good.

  31. I have been saying for years because my husband eats soooo many English Muffins, that I was going to learn to make them - well, two days ago I made English Muffin bread - EXCELLENT!! And being in loaf shape is so much better that those little round ones!
    Now I will have to come up with a new "thing" that I haven't ever tried!(And I have tried LOTS of things!!)

  32. I have always wanted to make my own salami! I love the various kinds at the store and would like to learn to make 1 well and then branch out! I'm sure the mass produced ones are cheaper, but I can then tweak the recipe's to my own liking :)