Store bought Canadian back bacon and Irish bacon is OK but it pales in comparison to the homemade stuff.
Curing meats such as homemade bacon, ham, or pastrami is fun and the results are often better than store bought. But curing is very different from any other recipe because you are using a preservative, sodium nitrite. You must read and thoroughly understand my article on the Science Of Curing Meats before attempting to cure meat or before you ask any questions.
The term Canadian bacon is oft misunderstood. In the US it usually means wet cured pork loin that is smoked. But Canada’s Food Inspection Agency has three classifications for bacon, none of which are called “Canadian Bacon” for obvious reasons:
1) Bacon. Pork belly, cured only.
2) Back Bacon. Pork loin, cured and smoked.
3) Wiltshire Bacon. Boneless pork loin with portion of belly attached, cured only.
Here we show you how to make Canadian back bacon, i.e. cured, smoked pork loin sliced into discs about 1/8″ thick. It is exactly what you want if you are making Eggs McMuffins or Eggs Benedict. In Canada you can also find “peameal bacon” which has been rolled in cornmeal. Irish bacon is cured like Canadian bacon but it is not smoked so just leave the wood out of this recipe if you want to make it Irish.
Both bacons are lean, perhaps 10:1 meat to fat, while American bacon, also called streaky bacon, made from side and belly, is often 50% fat. Because Canadian and Irish bacon are much thicker than American bacon, the curing time is longer. Order boneless pork loin (not tenderloin, that is an entirely different cut). It can be cut thick and grilled and served like ham steaks because they are made the same way and taste very similar.
Adjusting Curing Ingredients
Cure time: 0.8 days
These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page
- Prep. Put everything except the meat in a very clean nonreactive pot stainless, enamel coated, glass). Dissolve the salts and sugar. The garlic will not dissolve thoroughly. Let it cool in the refrigerator.
- Cure. Scrub the exterior of the meat thoroughly (don't use soap). Put the pork in the pot and keep it in the fridge for the length of time in the calculations above (you can go about 20% longer if you have to). If necessary weigh it down with a dinner plate or something else.
- Cook. For Canadian bacon, after the cure, it is time to smoke. Before smoking, rinse the surface really well because there will be a heavier concentration of salt on there. Smoke at 325°F (163°C) until it is 145°F (63°C) in the deepest part of the center. Depending on how thick your meat is, this will take from 1 to 3 hours. The reason we cook at 325°F (163°C) is to prevent the stall which will happen at lower temperatures and that can result in a much longer cook and drier meat. You can refrigerate it for up to two weeks or freeze it for longer. If you vacuum seal, it will keep longer still.
- For Irish bacon, after the cure, rinse the surface really well because there will be a heavier concentration of salt on there. Then, in the grill or oven, roast it at 325°F (163°C) until it is 145°F (63°C) in the deepest part of the center without smoke. You can refrigerate it for up to two weeks or freeze it for longer. If you vacuum seal, it will keep longer still.
- Serve. You can serve it right out of the smoker or oven or slice into discs and sear it on the grill or in a medium hot frying pan with a little bit of oil.
- Or make Eggs McMuffins! Smear some butter on the cut sides of an English Muffin and grill them alongside a slice of Canadian Bacon. Plop an egg in a ramekin or small bowl and sit it in simmering water until it is done to your liking. Add a slice of Cheddar or American cheese and it's better than McDonald's!