Canadian BaconSteven Raichlen
- Advance Prep: Brining time: 4 to 5 days
- Yield: Serves 6 to 8
- Method: Hot smoking
- Equipment: Big Green Egg; apple wood (enough for 2 1/2 to 3 hours of smoking)
- 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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