Sunday, October 28, 2007
Makin' Bacon, eh?
I could have named this post "a perfect breakfast". My wife and I had our eleventh wedding anniversary last Thursday, but couldn't celebrate it until last night. This morning's brunch was Eggs Benedict and a sparkler. A note to the purists out there, I use a Yogurt "Hollandaise". Lipitor can't do it alone!
Of all of the components of this dish, perhaps the most important ingredient is the bacon. To me that is Canadian or Back Bacon - cured and smoked pork loin. Some people recommend peameal bacon, which is a pickled, uncooked loin. Some heretics even recommend a slice of ham. It's the real thing for me, preferably home made and these days that means the recipe in Ruhlman and Polcyn's Charcuterie. So, when Dash's had their three day meat sale, I bought a whole pork loin.
A boneless pork loin is fairly easy to break down. The first step is trimming any fat and silverskin. Abandoning the latter, I still ended up with a good amount of usable trim, mostly fat for use in sausages. I cut a two pound roast from the sirloin end - sometimes I divide it further for stir frying and such, but I had some in the freezer and this is a nice sized roast for a family of four. I also cut three chops from the rib end which I quick brined and grilled for dinner that night.
That left me with a 3.75 lb. piece of center cut pork loin. You don't have to tie it up, but it holds its shape better for - well for use in Eggs Benedict or an occasional egg McMutant. It then went into the brine to be refrigerated for 48 hours. One of the reasons I wanted to do it now is that the garden herbs I needed for the brine will soon be gone. In fact, there is a frost warning for tonight.
After brining, the loin was rinsed off, and placed on a rack in the fridge for 24 hours.
After the rest in the fridge, a nice tacky pellicle had formed and the time came to hot smoke the loin. As this was to be hot smoking, the fire was in the main chamber - rather than the side car (I have to work on that!). The smoke was created with chunks of pear wood gleaned from trimming my mother-in-law's tree. The aroma was fabulous, and the result perfect for today's breakfast.
One final note, the weather factored into my equation. While Buffalo gets a bad rap weather-wise, but we are approaching the time of year when the plastic sheets go up on the windows and the back door. So I was thinking about what I would do if the weather kept me from using a grill. Ruhlman and Polcyn suggest that you can just roast the loin, but that doesn't work for me. To paraphrase Trapper John McIntyre on martinis: Yeah but without smoke, a bacon just doesn't quite make it.
My answer: A lesson that was truly brought home in "How to Cook Meat". Add a half a cup of liquid smoke to the brine!