This is a peameal bacon, a whole one, what the Americans call "Canadian bacon". I will not even enter into a discussion with any of my American, or specifically, Texan friends as to the identification of "Canadian bacon". Bless them but they've been led astray by culinary myth and no one bothered to set them straight...well, until today.
Reputable restaurants and specialty stores in the United States insist on presenting a round, boiled?, ham as the quintessential "Canadian bacon". Seriously people? Have you never BEEN to Canada and eaten bacon there? REALLY?
I feel obligated to do the quote thing because in Canada, it's just bacon or it's peameal. So named because historically it was rolled in yellow split pea meal to preserve, keep, the meat.
This is not going to be a long post, but rather a celebratory post. I have lived in Austin, Texas for 11 years and for exactly 11 years I have been trying to obtain a decent peameal. Oh, scratch that, decent peameal implies there have been choices. I've been in search of ANY peameal. Without success of any kind.
I used to be able to visit my remaining family members in Canada and upon pulling out of the driveway to drive back to Texas I'd be sure there was my son in the back seat and pounds of peameal in the cooler. They vacuum pack them there frequently, whole, and I drive them back here and pop them into the freezer - guarding them like a mad dog - there are very few occasions that warrant the use of a transplanted peameal. I slice them, I roast them whole I count count count to be sure of how many I have left at any given time and at 2, the grip tightens upon my beloved hunks of frozen meat.
I haven't been able to go north for 2 years and I won't be, for the foreseeable future, so my peameal crisis is hyped to a new level. I sort of need it.
Pork loins were on sale last week at my local grocery store. My mind reeled...dare I MAKE a peameal? A 2 lb boneless loin lept into my basket, came home with me, and lay in wait for me to put on my mad scientist hat.
I researched like mad and determined a dry cure was the way I was going to try it (first) so a short road trip to the local Calahans (cowboy store) to procure Morton's Tender-quick and I was ready.
In a NON REACTIVE dish I put 1 Tbsp Tender-quick and 1 tsp sugar for each pound of boneless pork loin. I rubbed it in well and tightly bound it in a number of layers of saran wrap. Into the fridge with a giant TUESDAY written on it. 5 days to wait - seemed nothing after a 2 year wait.
After 5 days, I removed the loin and washed it well then dried it and rolled it in a heavy coating of cornmeal.
OK OK, historic peameal was rolled in yellow split pea meal but it isn't anymore, it's rolled in cornmeal so I went with the flavor I miss not the historical accuracy - sue me.
Back to my beloved pork loin, I rolled it in the cornmeal, thickly, covered it and put it back in the fridge.
Wednesday lunch - out came the pork. There aren't words to describe the level of joy and the elation of success. The picture above is how it came out of the fridge the day after being rolled...here's the rest of my journey (and yes, we ate it on the homemade french loaves we made yesterday because peameal cries out for being eaten, hot, on fresh bread in a sandwich;
Try it, it's 5 days but there's really only 5 minutes of work the entire time. If you don't try it, and you know me, don't worry, I'll feed you some. One at a time, the Texans will 'get' what Canadian bacon actually is. Specs and Central Market might get a sample too, the deli people did mention an interest in trying it if I mastered it.
That's one thing off the list of imports, now, if I could just get a Swiss Chalet, Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire or a Pizza Pizza down here, I'd be set!