Irish bacon is close to what American’s think of as Canadian bacon because the cut of meat is lean. The European cut they call bacon is actually from the back of the pig, rather than the belly where American bacon originates. Irish bacon is traditionally cured and then cooked but removed from heat short of becoming crispy. Irish bacon normally has a layer of fat around the cut, which many people feel adds additional flavor. Cure a cut of Irish bacon at home and receive compliments on the unique taste of this meat.
Weigh the meat and calculate how much wet-cure mixture you will need. According to Bradley Smoker, 5 pounds of Irish bacon requires 5 pounds of brine mixture. Adjust the amount of brine up and down depending on your cut of meat.
Refrigerate meat while you prepare the cure. The recipe featured by Bradley Cure includes a store-bought cure mixture, onion powder, garlic powder, white pepper, maple syrup and maple flavoring. A different recipe from chef Michael Ruhlman includes garlic, maple syrup, bay leaves, nutmeg, juniper berries and thyme. Maple is a popular curing flavor for Irish bacon along with brown sugar and honey. Purchase your own curing mix or find a recipe and make it from scratch.
Place your meat into curing container. This would be a plastic bag or container, anything that is airtight. Rub the spice mixture all over the meat to coat it evenly.
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Place the curing meat into the fridge for seven days. Half-way through, rub the meat again distributing the spice mixture and any moisture that has gathered in the bottom. Bradley Smoker says the refrigerator should be set at a temperature between 34 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If the maximum thickness of your cut is one inch then one week of curing will be sufficient. If it reaches two inches in any spot, cure the meat for 14 days.
After the cure, take the meat out of the curing container and rinse it off. Preheat a smoker or an oven to between 140 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Bradley Smoker suggests refrigerating your rinsed meat overnight prior to smoking. If you’re using a smoker, leave the damper open--you don’t want to smoke the meat, just dry-cure it.
Place the meat on a baking tray in your oven or on the shelf in your smoker for 90 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat and do not remove the meat from the oven or smoker until the thermometer reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit In the smoker, it may take between two and three hours for the bacon to cure. Remove it when it turns a reddish-brown color.
Remove from heat and allow it to cool. Then wrap the meat in plastic or tin foil and refrigerate it until you are ready to cook.
Michaelyn Erickson has been writing since 2005 and has been published regularly in a variety of northwest publications. She has written a science fiction novel and is now working on a children's book series. Michaelyn attends Evergreen State College where she is pursuing a degree in sustainable living.