One tomato, two tomato
I recently saw a tweet go by for "Sichuan Bacon." Hold the phone. Click. It was from Hank Shaw author & blogger of Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, who’s site I just love to follow. What a fabulous idea. I had just purchased a few ounces of Sichuan peppercorns, so the tweet was clearly a sign of planetary alignment. Last year while participating in Charcutepalooza, I honed my curing skills, particularly on bacon and ham. And while I had no pork belly in the fridge, I did have a lovely pork loin from my butcher. Why not change it up and make a Sichuan-style brined version of Canadian Bacon, with a little inspiration from pastrami? Talk about your charcuterie mashups.
I started by creating a spice combination for the curing brine, adjusting for the smaller size of my pork loin. Sichuan peppercorns have an amazing fruity, almost floral, aroma that I wanted to feature prominently in the flavor profile. I further enhanced it with warm Chinese flavors like star anise, coriander, ginger, garlic and dry sherry, then added the warm spice notes of cinnamon and cloves. A little honey took the edge off the harshness of the salt. The finishing touch was a coating of toasted, crushed Sichuan peppercorns and coriander seeds. This was coated on the pork loin just before smoking it in exactly the same manor you would black pepper and coriander before smoking corned beef into pastrami. This gives the bacon a great texture and extra punch of the Sichuan peppercorn flavor.
Sichuan Canadian Bacon
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Sichuan Canadian Bacon Recipe
By Tammy Kimbler
1.5 lb pork loin
1 quart water
1/4 c dry sherry
2.5 tbs morton's kosher salt
1 tbs sodium nitrite (DQ Cure #1)
3 tbs honey
3 cloves smashed garlic
1" piece fresh ginger, smashed
1 tbs Sichuan peppercorns, crushed
1 cinnamon stick, broken
1 tsp cloves
3 star anise pods, broken
1 tsp whole coriander, crushed
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, toasted and crushed
1 tsp whole coriander, toasted and crushed
Combine all the brine ingredients in a pot and heat to dissolve the salt and sugar. Cool, then refrigerate. When cold, add the pork loin and refrigerate for 3 days.
Remove the loin, rinse well and discard the brine. Pat the pork with paper towels then set on a rack to dry uncovered in the fridge overnight. Resting distributes the brine and the drying allows the smoke to better penetrate the pork loin. If you don’t have time to smoke this yet, skip the drying part until the night before. The cured loin will hold for at least a week.
Fire up your smoker You want a temp of around 200-250. At the moment I have apple wood for my smoke, but use what you like. Cherry would be dynamite here. When you're ready, coat your pork loin in the Sichuan peppercorns and coriander, pressing in the rub. Hot smoke the loin to an internal temp of 150. Mine took about 3 hours at 200 degrees. Store in the fridge until ready to use, either hot or cold. I plan to use mine in fried rice, sautéed in stir fry and layered with spicy hollandaise in eggs benedict. Or maybe with pickled duck eggs. Or in bao. I must be hungry.
Known to many for my incredible ability to organize, I tackle gardening and life with equal verve. Obsessive, is that a bad thing?
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