Steven Raichlen's Barbecue! Bible


Canadian Bacon

Adapted from Steven Raichlen's Project Smoke

  • Advance Prep: Brining time: 4 to 5 days
Photo credit: Photo by Richard Dallett


  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8
  • Method: Hot smoking
  • Equipment: Big Green Egg; apple wood (enough for 2 1/2 to 3 hours of smoking)
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  • 2 1/2 to 3 pound pork loin

For the brine:

  • 6 whole star anise
  • 1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 2 quarts warm water
  • 1 cup kosher or sea salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pink curing salt (Prague Powder No. 1 or Insta Cure No. 1)
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh fennel fronds and bulb
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove garlic, flattened with the side of a cleaver
  • 2 quarts ice water

Step 1: Make the brine: In a large heavy dry saucepan, roast the star anise, fennel seeds, and peppercorns over medium-high heat until toasted, aromatic, and a little shiny, 2 minutes. Add 1 quart of warm water, the salt, sugar, Prague powder, fennel, thyme, bay leaf, and garlic. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and boil until the salt, sugar, and Prague powder dissolve, 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat; add the ice water. Let the brine cool completely to room temperature.

Step 2: Place the pork loin in a very large heavy-duty resealable plastic bag. Add the brine and place the bag in a foil pan. Brine the pork in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days, turning it over once a day. Note: You can speed up the curing process by 2 days by injecting the pork loin with some of the brine on day 1 and injecting again after 2 days.

Step 3: Drain the pork loin well, discarding the brine. Rinse loin and blot dry. Set it on a wire rack over a baking sheet and let it air dry at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Step 4: Meanwhile, set up your smoker following the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat to 225 to 250 degrees F. Add the wood as specified by the manufacturer.

Step 5: Place the pork loin in the smoker fat side up. Smoke until bronzed with smoke, cooked through, and the internal temperature registers 160 degrees, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Step 6: Transfer the pork loin to a wire rack over a baking sheet and cool to room temperature. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill overnight.

Step 7: To serve the bacon, slice thinly across the grain. Grill or panfry to heat.

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