Homemade Peameal Bacon and Back Bacon
As I've mentioned before, one of the annoying things about living away from my homeland is the lack of availability of many of the grocery basics, treats, and general comfort foods of home. For the most part, they're easy enough to make, once I put my mind to developing a recipe (Tiger Tail Ice Cream, or Honey Garlic Cooking Sauce, for instance!)
Recently, I was disappointed with a purchase of "Canadian bacon" (we don't call it that - it's back bacon!). I lamented the lack of availability of not only GOOD back bacon, but also peameal bacon. My husband had never even heard of peameal bacon, and had only ever had "Canadian Bacon" as they sell it here in the USA... anemic, flavourless, very blah ham product. This was a situation that needed to be rectified!
So, I did some research on recipes and techniques, and created a recipe of my own, using the flavours I wanted. I ordered a few necessary items - including Prague Powder, which I'd never even heard of - and then called my husband to let him know that I was taking up a new hobby - curing meat. You know you've married well when such a declaration isn't met with some variation of "WTF? Because we don't have enough hobbies?", but with "Awesome! I've been meaning to take up smoking meats! We can do both!"!
Anyway, both back bacon and peameal bacon start out the same - soaking in a flavourful brine for a few days - and then veer off in different directions from there:
Peameal Bacon is then rolled in cornmeal (Back in the day it was crushed up dried peas), wrapped, and chilled. It's then cut into thick slices and fried up as needed, usually served in sandwiches. So far as I can tell, peameal sandwiches are mostly a Toronto thing... I have no idea why. They're fantastic!
Back Bacon skips the cornmeal, and gets smoked until fully cooked. You can serve it as-is, though it's usually reheated in some form: fried as part of breakfast or in a sandwich, or thinly sliced and used to make pizza. I promise you, making a pizza with this will wreck you for all other pizzas. I made a spicy Hawaiian one the other day - back bacon, pineapple, thinly sliced jalapenos, and a drizzle of sriracha.. spectacular!
Says Porter: "It has a better texture than the stuff I've had - firm but not stringy or chewy. Much better flavor, more character. I definitely see a big difference, and I'm not going back"
While back bacon requires smoking - usually requiring special equipment / technique - peameal bacon is ridiculously easy to make, and requires no special skill or equipment. I was really kicking myself for not having done it sooner!
This recipe comes from my cookbook, “More Than Poutine: Favourite Foods from my Home and Native Land”. It’s full of amazing Canadian recipes - both traditional and accurate replicas of retail foods. You should definitely check it out! It’s available here on my site, on Amazon, and through all major booksellers.
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