Ok for all my American friends. You call back bacon Canadian bacon Us Canadians know better and call it by its proper name, back bacon.
I started experimenting with Berbere Spice a while ago and had this feeling that it would go well with the salty/sweet taste of back bacon. My brain is warped and just has to act on these ideas.
Here is the spice. Remember, in cooking, looks is important too so I got a fancy container and home made label for my spice mix.
I had a couple of small pork loin chunks in the freezer which were just perfect for experimenting with a new recipe.
I tried one putting the Berbere spice in the cure and the other by sprinkling the Berbere spice on just before smoking.
I mixed my cure mix. Here is my cure mix for 1 kilogram of pork:
3 grams Prague Powder #1
40 ml brown sugar
15 ml kosher salt
For the piece I added the Berbere spice to the cure, I put 1 ml in the cure mix
For my metrically challenged friends, this is the mix for 1 pound of pork:
0.05 ounce of Prague Powder #1
4 teaspoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
If you are adding the Berbere spice to the cure, add 1/8 teaspoon
I weighed each piece and made up the cure mix for each one based on its weight.
I put the pork loin on a plate and rubbed it with the cure mixture.
Then I put the piece in a resealable bag and made sure any cure that didn't stick to the loin was scraped off the plate into the bag.
I repeated the process for the second piece but I did not put Berbere spice in the cure mix.
Both pieces went into the fridge. The thickest part was two inches thick. I cure for 4 days per inch plus 2 days for luck. For 10 days I left it in the fridge, turning and rubbing the cure in every day or so.
After 10 days, I took the loins out of the fridge and soaked them in cold water for an hour, changing the water twice.
I put the loins on a rack and dried them with paper towels.
I let them dry for a couple of hours, occasionally patting it with a paper towel. When the pork was dry and tacky, I sprinkled 2 ml (1/2 teaspoon) of berbere spice on the piece that had not been cured with it. You'll note that She Who Must Be Obeyed made me upgrade my spice container.
I fired up my Amazen Tube Smoker with hickory. I have used the pellet smoker for years but I find the tube smoker just takes less futzing. I put the pork and the smoker in my pellet smoker.
I cold smoked for 4 hours and took the bacon in and refrigerated it overnight.
The next day, I preheated my pellet green to 180 F. I smoked the bacon to an internal temperature of 140 F, about 3 hours.
I put it in the fridge overnight and then sliced it up.
Here is the one that was cured with the Berbere Spice.
Here is the one I dusted with Berbere before smoking.
I fried a couple of slices of each.
Wow! This is the best back bacon I have made by a long stretch. The Berbere spice gives just a warmth as opposed to heat. Even She Who Must Be Obeyed didn't find it too spicy. That being said, there is a complexity of taste that goes incredibly well with the nice smokiness and sweetness of back bacon.
As for putting the spice in the cure versus putting it on before smoking, I preferred the spice in the cure. It gave a nice even heat that was just there. The bacon it was sprinkled on was terrific but had a harsher heat that comes on after a second. It still isn't overly hot but it does bite a bit more.
This will be made very often.