It’s always confused me that Americans call back bacon “Canadian bacon,” when it’s much more associated with Britain than Canada. To my knowledge the only uniquely Canadian form of bacon is peameal bacon: cured pork loin rolled in ground split peas, which keeps the surface of the meat dry and inhibits microbial growth. Sometime over the past century cornmeal has taken the place of peameal, but the name hasn’t changed.
This week I made two forms of peameal bacon: the contemporary favourite – lean, centre-cut pork loin, fat trimmed down, brined and rolled in cornmeal – and a rustic recontruction, inspired by the fantastic book The Art of Living According to Joe Beef. I left an inch or two … Continue reading.
The word “bacon” usually refers to pork belly that has been cured and then smoked. An exception is back bacon, which is cured pork loin. “Canadian bacon” is what Americans call back bacon that has been smoked.
Below are some notes on making bacon at home.
A Quick Tour of the Pork Belly
Before I started buying pork by the side, I ordered slabs of belly from Irvings Farm Fresh. A 5 lb slab was typically around $25.
Below is a slab of pork belly. You’re looking at the inside of the pig; the opposite side is covered with skin. The right side of this slab would have connected to the front shoulder of the hog. The left … Continue reading.
In the States this preparation is called Canadian bacon, but we usually call it back bacon. It’s more or less the same process as regular bacon, only done to a section of the loin instead of the belly. There’s an old style of back bacon from eastern Ontario called peameal bacon, in which a cured section of loin is rolled in peameal (crushed split-peas) before being smoked. Peameal bacon is still made down east, though nowadays cornmeal is used.
Back bacon is usually made from the eye of loin: the large, round muscle often made into centre-cut pork chops. You can also use the rib- and sirloin-ends of the loin, which have more fat and flavour than the centre. I … Continue reading.
Pancetta is Italian for “little belly.” It is cured pork belly, usually but not always partly air-dried. It may be a flat slab, like North American bacon, or it may be rolled into cylinder with a delightful, spiral cross section. It is almost never smoked.
Making Pancetta at Home
1. Make the cure mix: kosher salt, curing salt, fresh coarse ground black pepper, crumbled bay leaves, fresh ground nutmeg, crushed juniper berries, brown sugar, and fresh thyme. The complete recipe can be found in Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie.
2. Trim the pork belly. Square the edges. The slab I had also happened to have the skin on, which must be removed. Try to leave a thin layer of fat on … Continue reading.