Viands

'Viands' is for those who know that preparing food can be an end in itself, not just a means of getting something to eat. It's an irregular chronicle of play in the kitchen, emphasizing two areas: Processing techniques like charcuterie, salting, smoking, and so forth, and also the creative use of leftovers. Anyone can go out and buy everything needed to make something good, but to work only with what’s found at hand is a far greater challenge and, in the end, perhaps more satisfying.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Monday, March 13, 2006

Canadian Bacon - Dry vs. Brine

I've never been a big fan of 'Canadian bacon', which is not called that in Canada at all; there it's called 'back bacon', as opposed to the 'streaky bacon' which is standard here in the U.S.A. 'Back bacon' is a better description anyway, since it's just a cured and smoked piece of the loin having little to do with Canada.

In reality, most commercial Canadian bacons, at least the samples I've had over the years, might better be called simply 'ham', because that's what they look and taste like. By the way, if bacon really interests you, be sure to check out bacontarian.com, which will tell you far more about the subject than anyone but a true fanatic might want to know.

I've never been a big fan of brine cures, either, preferring to dry-cure almost everything I make. Now, however, I'm going to give both product and process a fair chance. Half a pork loin is resting in a dry-cure while the other half soaks in a comparably seasoned brine. When the curing is done, they'll be hot-smoked at the same time and may the best loin win.

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