April brings us to the Smoke #CharcutePalooza challenge. Oops, I kinda already did a hot smoke challenge by making Pastrami last month and Tasso Ham the month before. Having the book around only inspires you to do more and more. I’ve already made duck proscuitto and pancetta for the second time. And just two weeks ago I couldn’t resist starting a bresaola. Not to mention the couple of hams, one “Lonzino” style, the other Noix de Jambon style. No shortage of cured meat ‘round these parts.

With Tasso Ham under my belt, the challenge left me with making Canadian Bacon or smoked salmon. P1050843I decided to make the Canadian Bacon, which is cured and smoked pork loin. A trip to Marin Sun Farms netted me some very find looking pork loin. There was a lonely looking pork belly just lying there too. I snapped it up too for my second pancetta.

The loin was completely trimmed of all fat and sinew. There was also a piece that ran the length that was rather loose. I removed that too, reserving it all in a freezer bag for future grinding into something. The brine is very simple with salt, sugar, curing salt, sage, thyme and garlic. The loin stayed in the brine for 48 hours and was then rinsed. At this point it’s set on a rack in the refrigerator for 12 – 24 hours to dry.

A couple of hours of hot smoking the next day and I had Canadian Bacon. You can see it finished at the top. From what I gather in Canada they call it Back Bacon. Unsmoked and rolled in cornmeal, it’s called peameal bacon.

So, what to do with Canadian Bacon? Growing up it was just another breakfast meat, but a sort of special occasion one. It’s not one we had often, but I always thought it a treat when we did. Only later in life did I learn about it’s true best use: Eggs Benedict. I’ll admit that if it’s on the menu I’m very likely to order it. I’m predictable that way. Same goes for duck and venison. Someone, who shall remain nameless, always orders the ravioli. It’s fine. It’s what we like.

So two weekends in a row I made “Everything but the Plate Homemade Eggs Benedict.” Well, I didn’t make the eggs, but our girls in the backyard did. I got the idea from our inspiration for this year long challenge, Michael Ruhlman’s post Eggs Benedict from Scratch. In that post he talks about sourdough English Muffins, but also graciously gives a recipe for a regular English Muffins. I’m a bit over the sourdough thing. Too long in the Bay Area where Sourdough rules. I did however use his recipe for Blender Hollandaise in that post, but cut it down by 2/3 and whisked it instead of using the blender. There just wasn’t enough ingredients with the smaller recipe to use the blender. It worked great by hand anyway.

That first weekend the Eggs Benedict were perfectly fine, but I didn’t really get the picture I wanted,

EEEK!

EEEK!

even after dozens of shots. I was in a hurry as it was my breakfast after all, I wasn’t in the mood to eat cold food. The shots sort of turned out like they were from some 1960s cookbook; over saturated. Even in Photoshop I wasn’t having luck fixing them. The solution: do it again the next Sunday. This time with some modifications and a third plate for a houseguest.

P1050962However, by this time I didn’t have enough Canadian Bacon left for three servings because I’d given a big chunk away. Tasso Ham to the rescue. I had made some a while back for jambalaya and had a piece in the freezer. So, each of us would get one of each Canadian Bacon and Tasso Ham on our Eggs Benedict.

Also, the first round of muffins were bit flat, so in the

Tasso Ham.

Tasso Ham.

intervening week I found some higher rings to cook them in. The second week’s muffins were much fluffier and higher.

This second week though, I had problems with the poached eggs, which had come out perfectly the first week. Oh well, in the end, it was all delicious. And I found that Canadian Bacon be damned, I much prefer Tasso Ham under there. It add a great spiciness and is moister since it’s from a fattier cut of meat. You can see the result below.

Travel note: If you ever find yourself in Breaux Bridge, LA, be sure to check out Zydeco Brunch at Cafe Des Amis where you can get Crawfish Etouffee atop your Eggs Benedict. Talk about gilding the lily!

P1050969

Recipes in:Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing
By Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn.

These comments are from the previous commenting system.
MOSAICA Ah, beautiful Scott! I like how fat your English muffins turned out. Mine are utterly delicious, but not as fat. I think I’ll make a slightly stiffer dough next round and see how that works. Nice tweak with the tasso Benedict 🙂
Friday, April 15, 2011 – 09:38 AM

MARDI@EATLIVETRAVELWRITE Your pork loin looks absolutely wonderful!  And I think your eggs benny looks fab too!