The dormancy of winter lends itself nicely to curing explorations—the multiday process seems easy to handle when your not really doing anything anyway, plus the resulting hunks of meat are comforting in the cold weather. Bacon has always been on the top of my to-do list, but the work needed to transform my Weber Smokey Mountain into a cold smoker to make it always seems a more than I want to undertake when I'm in full-on lazy winter mode. So instead, I decided to try out a type of hot smoked bacon—Canadian bacon.
When making the decision to tackle Canadian bacon, little did I know what a game of semantics I was getting into. All I wanted was my own version of what's most commonly found sandwiched between an English muffin and poached egg. Turns out what we take for granted as Canadian bacon in the U.S. isn't so straightforward when we look up north.
What's "Canadian bacon" to Americans is most likely called back bacon elsewhere. This is made from boneless pork loin, which, compounding confusion, can be found fresh or cured and smoked or not-smoked depending on where you are. Add on top of that, in Canada, they're most likely to call peameal bacon—cured pork loin rolled in cornmeal, then sliced and cooked—their own. No matter the nomenclature, I knew what I wanted, and what I call Canadian bacon starts with a lean pork loin and a wet-cure.
Instead of going for a straight water and salt cure, I thought it would be apt to introduce some flavor, mainly in a product that also makes me think of Canada—maple syrup. Syrup and salt (pink curing and kosher) were the main ingredients of the cure, but I also added brown sugar, bay leaves, garlic, and black peppercorns to add a little extra something.
The pork loin was then submerged in the cure, covered, and let sit in the fridge for four days. During the summertime, when immediacy is what I seek, this wait would have killed me, but instead, my lazy-winter-self even scoffed at having to do the work of lighting up a fire to finish the process.
But alas, grilling and barbecue always wins me over, and the pork loin went into the smoker and cooked at 225 degrees until the center of the meat reached 140 degrees. It's important to undercook a little here, since you want to retain moisture in the meat so it doesn't try out once it's slice and pan fried. If you're not planning on pan frying though, it's fine to bring the meat up to full temp, between 160-165 degrees.
The pork emerges from the smoker like this. Admittedly, without a bark or nice sear, it wasn't incredibly appetizing, but that's of little consequence, because it's not really meant to seen and eaten as a whole piece of meat. Instead, I refrigerated the loin until it was completely cool and firm, and then cut the pork into the thin slices that make Canadian bacon ready for quick pan frying at breakfast.
The end product was quite satisfying—the bacon had a great sweet and salty mixture that was more pronounced and complex than what you get off the shelf, and when cooked right, the meat was pleasantly moist as well. Although happy with this particular bacon, I'm still left a bit unfulfilled knowing the universe of bacon choices that are still left to be explored. Now I just need to break free from my winter do-nothing funk and make more bacon!
- Yield One 4- to 5-pound loin, serving 12 to 18 people
- Prep 15 Minutes
- Inactive 3 Days
- Cook 2 Hours
- Total 3 Days 2 Hours 15 Minutes
- 1 gallon water, divided
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons pink salt (aka InstaCure, Prague Powder)
- 4 bay leaves
- 3 medium cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 boneless pork loin, trimmed of excess fat (about 4 to 5 pounds)
- 1 to 2 fist-size chunks of light smoking wood, such as apple or cherry
- To make the cure, combine 1 quart of water, Kosher salt, maple syrup, brown sugar, pink salt, bay leaves, garlic, and peppercorns in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve salts and sugar. Boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat. Transfer to a large container and stir in remaining 3 quarts of water. Place in refrigerator until completely chilled. Fully submerge pork loin in cure and let sit in refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
- Remove pork from cure and place in large container. Add enough fresh water to fully submerge loin. Let sit for 30 minutes, then remove pork from water and pat dry with paper towels.
- Fire up the smoker or grill to 225 degrees, adding chunks of smoking wood chunks when at temperature. When wood is ignited and producing smoke, place pork in and cook until an instant read thermometer registers 140 degrees when inserted into thickest part of the pork loin, about 2 to 3 hours.
- Let pork cool for 30 minutes. Slice and pan fry before before serving.
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M.C Great recipe...I made it exactly as the recipe said, smoked it yesterday...came out sooo good I'm making another one today. 5 stars.
jeff Going to it today , for the advice ,from st.Louis I love eggs beniii
RS Very cool. Thanks for sharing.
Ron I have one on the grill right now... I was going to use the smoker and figured, "why?" Small piece of meat, short cooking time. The grill is working just fine. Used a mix of apple and pecan wood. It's looking real good so far and is picking up a great color.
cnazzy Nope... You dont smoke canadian bacon!!!! EVER!!! canadian here.. grew up with PEAMEAL Bacon and you never smoke it.
American's have it so wrong, I live in the USA now and its amazing how people mess this up every time..
You dont smoke it after its cured for atleast 4 days.. then you roll it in cornmeal. and leave it sit in the fridge for another couple days then cut in slices and fry..
You can freeze it. and fry it again at a later date or roast it in the oven.
Just thought people would know the REAL way to have peameal bacon!
cybrowl crazzy if you're going to claim your Canadian .. get it right! Peameal bacon is one of two bacons we called Canadian. Smoked back bacon is the other. And before you say anything different. I should know , since I been a butcher in Ontario for 35 years. and most Americans who come up to buy Canadian Bacon want smoked back bacon not peameal bacon
snowtigger Just finished one loin night before last. Took it to 165f inside temp. All I can say is WOW!! Everybody has the same reaction. I am starting on four more. It is 30 degrees below zero. Big deal, I have a detached garage. It gets a little smokey in there, but I open the overhead door and air it out before I go in. It works for me. I think I will install a chimney before I fire up the old smoker again. It will get rid of the most of the smoke. Amazing what a retired guy will do when it's cold.
jackie harsha Just made this. Is incredibly good. I'll probably never buy ham or Canadian bacon again. Thanks for the recipe.
Mike Superb! This is the BEST Canadian bacon ever. Fantastic! Thanks for the post!
chrysalis I did 1 loin about a month ago. It looked like a lot so I began giving it away. Bad move! Now I'm smoking 2 as we speak. It is absolutely awesome. Won't be as generous this time.
Josh I will definitely be trying this recipe in the very near future! It looks delicious!!
CPR Ive been making this recipe for two years now and my family and myself cant get enogh of it. I would make one every day if I had the time.
My aunt said that this is her Christmas present from now on.
Thank you for the recipe and keep it up.
PS I don't care if it's real canadian bacon or not
This is my canadian bacon from now on.
Scott I dry cure with salt, brown sugar or honey, and cure. Put in big zip lock bag and cure 4-7 days. Then smoke.
Tom Iam not a professional bacon maker or any of the sort but what I did see I like and Iam going to try it I do make bacon for myself and friends and it come out great. I make alot of different type of smoke sausage and dry Italian sausage and smoke cheese. Iam retired Electrion from Alaska after 40 years up there I move to Ohio. I have smoked alot of salmon and different types of fish, moose and caribou so I do know alot about the smokeing of meat and learned on my own trial and error I like all the BBQ pit master blog I come across I would like to enter one of the contest some day just to see How good I am at it but it cost alot of money maybe wishful thinking but I am going to try your recipe I will give feed back later Thanks .
Tom Well today is March 10 2016 and want to reply on how good that recipe was for the candian bacon. It is short of amazing how good it is Iam in the process making more pork loins were half price today so I bought six and now I got to dig out my bigger smoker but its worth it. I would like to see if you had a different for just pork belly if not its okay But you got this one right good job .
Pete I am using your recipe for the first time, but I have 6.8 lbs of loin to cure so I used 3 teaspoons of cure #1 but left all the other measurments the same. I just wonder if I should have only used the 2 teaspoons of cure. I plan to cure for 5 days before smoking and cooking to 140 F
Josh @Pete The cure should probably have been fine for a loin the size you have, but 3 teaspoons of cure should be fine. Hope it turns out!
Pete Thank you for your reply, yes the loin turned out just great !!
had a BLT and for breakfast had bacon and eggs, they were the best.
Thanks for the recipe, will be using this one from now on.
Rick Whether it's considered Canadian bacon, it's still real tasty whatever it is, especially on eggs Benedict.
Richard Great recipe
How long should it keep and can you freeze it
Michael Outstanding recipe! I've made a bunch. Using bigger loins so I doubled the recipe. In fact, I've even gone sweeter with the maple and used coconut sugar instead of brown sugar. It's sweeter. I'm making some to use as gifts to the neighbors. They are used to the smoker smoking and wonder when I'm not sharing. Ha! It's been 3 years here so I might as well!
PA Dutchman This recipe inspired me to give it a shot. That was 2 years ago. First batch was one whole loin. Used honey instead of maple syrup. Last year I did 3. I have a Hobart slicer which comes in handy for slicing. I vacuum packed the slices in convenient sized packs and I'm just about out. The local Giant food store has whole boneless tenderloins on sale right now for $.99 a lb! I snagged up six of them! I'll probably freeze some fresh to use with my home made sauerkraut, but at least 4 of the big ones are going to become bacon. This time I might cut off a chunk to try as Peameal bacon just to see the difference. Personally, I think it's going to be tough to beat the sweet smoky flavor, but I'll keep an open mind about it.
Mat Oz Amazing recipe!
Did my first batch without the curing salt ( couldn't find any near me, had to order it from amazon but arrived too late), it still came out amazing!
I'm trying my second batch with the curing salt now, will see the difference between the two.
chris olson Going to start the process today. Made it once before with a different recipe that turned out very good, looking forward to it.
Cheryl Husband made a batch and cold smoked it for four hours at 100 degrees F. Turned out great! He used one teaspoon of pink salt instead of two. Making another batch as I speak, thanks for the recipe!
Larry Rodriguez Kind of difficult to smoke or bbq in the winter and in the northwest. It's cold, which makes the weber colder and lots of rain which I try to channel off the weber. In the winter time, I bake the loin in the house oven at 200 degrees F until it reaches an internal temperature of 142 degrees. I also tie the loin to maintain the round shape. It takes a minimum of 4 hours to bake at the low temperature but it looks and tastes awesome. I also measure out the pink salt on 25 lbs per 1 ounce of cure.
MR. D First time curing and smoking canadian bacon. Turned out fantastic!! Used celery powered instead of curing salt. Thanks for sharing your recipe.
Ace202 Just pulled off the smoker. Smells wonderful, cant wait to try. Used tenderloins as that was what was on special. Now the pork loins on sale this week. Going to have to go pick some up.
Bob R. Made this bacon last march for a week at the beach in April. I cut a nine lb. loin into three pieces for this batch.
At the beach ( for a wedding), we used two sections one morning for breakfast. It disappeared as fast as it was served .We served about twenty people that morning. What a hit! I Everyone loved it Two days later the third piece went along with three lbs. of homemade chicken maple apple sausage. Nothing was left. They cleaned me out!
Today, I made another one about the same size. This time I coated two with black pepper and maple syrup. The third piece I coated with a Jalapeno / Raspberry jelly that my son made . Can't wait to try these two versions.
Thanks for sharing this great recipe. This is now my go to.