I have been trying to get Maple Flavour in my Back (Canadian) Bacon. I've tried maple syrup and maple smoke. Nice flavour but not noticeably maple flavoured.
I finally decided to surrender and go to Maple Extract.
I made a cure largely based on Bearcarver's Tenderquick cure but with my own additions:
I had 3 kg (about 6 pounds) of pork butt. The Tenderquick packages says to use 15 grams of TQ for each 500 grams (about 1 pound).
I cut the loin into two 1.5 kg (3 pound) pieces.
For each piece, I mixed:
45 grams (1.6 ounce) Tender Quick
25 ml (2 tablespoons) Brown sugar
15 ml (2 tablespoons) Honey (nuke it for a second so it is liquid)
5 ml (1 teaspoon) maple extract
Please note, the amount of cure is based on the weight of the meat. This amount is for 1.5 kg of pork. If you use more or less, you have to adjust the amount of cure (ie if it is 2 pounds, use 2/3 of these amounts, if its 6 pounds, use double).
I know what your thinking. Why not use maple syrup instead of honey. I thought about it but my past efforts with maple syrup added no maple flavour and I didn't like the sweetness profile as much as I liked honey. So, I am relying on the extract to give me maple flavour.
I rubbed it into the piece.
I then put it in a Ziploc bag, making sure to get all the cure into the bag. I repeated the mixture and procedure for the second piece.
Then it is into the fridge for 10 days (I used Bearcarvers calculator for how long to cure. It was a little thicker than 2 inches so I added a couple of days).
His formula is to cure for 1 day for each 1/2 inch the thickest part of the pork and then add about 5 days.
I massage it and turn it every day The missus complains I massage my bacon more than her.
Out of the brine, I rinsed the loins and then soaked in cold water for an hour, changing the water once.
Then into the fridge overnight to dry.
The next day I put it on smoking racks. As I would be cold smoking for the first 3 hours, I also threw on a block of extra old cheddar I had in the fridge.
Here it is all loaded up with the AMNPS loaded with pecan dust. I wanted to use dust to smoke and didn't have any maple. Here's hoping about that extract.
I cold smoked for 3 hours. It started out as about 0 C (32 F) and it stayed around 50 F in the smoker. After the 3 hours, I took the cheddar out and wrapped it to rest for a few weeks.
I loaded up the AMNPS with maple pellets and the rest of the smoke went like this.
One hour at 150 F.
40 minutes at 170 F
40 minutes at 190 F
Set it to 210 F and continued smoking to an internal temperature of 140 F. It took two hours.
Here it is out of the smoker.
I let it cool in the fridge overnight and slice. It looked very nice.
Fried some up with some potatoes for breakfast.
The verdict. I am getting closer. It has more of a maple flavour than I have found with any other method but it is still quite mild. At least it tastes like maple bacon. As a bacon, it is great. Nice cured flavour with a touch of sweet. Not too salty. It has a nice texture too.
Next time, I might pry my wallet open and buy some maple sugar and replace the brown sugar with that. I will continue to use maple extract though.