Thursday, April 14, 2011

Charcutepalooza - It's all about the smoke!

This month's Charcutepalooza challenge was to smoke something.  Your choice was salmon or pork.  If you know me at all, you know which one I picked.  That's right...this month I went the canadian bacon route.

Did you know that this is how canadian bacon starts?

It's true, really.

First, you start with a lovely brine (which we know all about from last month).  My brine had beautiful sage and thyme from my garden, a little garlic, salt, sugar and pink salt (nitrates). really is pink.  You put your pork loin in this brine for 3 days.  I had a humungo 6+ pound loin, which I cut in two and brined for 3 days.  Then the loins sat in the fridge uncovered for 24 hours and developed a lovely tackiness...all the better to hold on to the wonderful smoke they were about to encounter.

Now, the smoking was the real challenge this month.  All month long I hemmed and hawed over buying a real smoker.  I really wanted The Big Green Egg (but at over $500, that seemed a bit silly at this stage of the game).  I also looked at smaller smokers, including some electric models.  After a bit of research, I realized there was absolutely no reason that I could use my already owned gas grill.

So, with a few easy modifications (pans of water over the lava coals and tin foil in the end holes), I converted my grill into a smoker.  I used the indirect heat method and kept my grill at between 200 and 225 degrees and in about 2 1/2 hours...I had beautiful, smoked canadian bacon.  (I also purchased a dual gauge, remote control thermometer, which measures the temperature of the meat and the grill cool!)

I now have about 6 lbs of canadian bacon (which is a lot of canadian bacon).  

So, I sliced up much of it and wrapped it well and put it in the freezer for later use.  

The boys and I sampled some slices of it and it was quite tasty.  A little smoky, a little sagey, a little salty...really quite nice.  I then decided to make eggs benedict (with homemade hollandaise sauce...but store bought english muffins).

It just hasn't been my week with egg based dishes.  My hollandaise scrambled a bit and I had to strain it. It wasn't near lemony enough, nor salty enough.  I will definitely have to try this again (especially since the boys gobbled these up...even in their imperfect state).

Just keeping it real!
All in all, another fun month playing with meat.  I really can't wait to see what May's challenge is.

1 comment:

Peter said...

Nice work, especially turning the grill into a smoker.