Menu Development
Canadian bacon brings it home
By Pasquale "Pat" Bruno Jr.

Canadian bacon is not bacon at all –– it is ham. Canadian bacon is made from the ribeye of the pork loin (eye of the loin). In the United States, pork belly becomes the cut most often used to make Canadian bacon. In Canada, Canadian bacon is known as "back bacon."

I am aware of the fact that a number of pizzerias list Canadian bacon as an optional topping, but, unfortunately, that is where it comes to a screeching halt, and it shouldn't. There are many ways to use Canadian bacon, as you will see from the recipes that follow. So if you are already using Canadian bacon in your operation, explore using it even more.

The basic idea behind all of this is that you can and should use Canadian bacon as you would ham. When I was doing work in Spain and Mexico, one of the best selling pizzas was a Hawaiian pizza. The combination of ham and pineapple is highly favored in Latin countries: smoky meets tangy sweet, and that result equals real enjoyment.

At first, the idea of pineapple in conjunction with a tomato-based pizza sauce seems a bit strange, but it works quite nicely. However, if you are not tuned into the Hawaiian pizza (ham and pineapple) idea, try the recipes that follow where Canadian bacon is used in a number of delicious ways.

A few thoughts:

• When using pineapple to make a Hawaiian pizza, use pineapple chunks, not slices. Slices might look better on the pizza, but normal slicing of the baked pizza poses problems (the pineapple slices tends to slide hither and yon, and some slices might end up with a big portion of pineapple, while other slices get short shrift).

• When using Canadian bacon as a topping, slices (depending on size) can be put on whole. However, by dicing the bacon, or cutting the slices into quarters, you will get more coverage overall.

• Hawaiian pizza made with a 14-inch pizza shell will require about 6 to 8 ounces of Canadian bacon, and 8 to 10 ounces of pineapple chunks. Try the following recipe. The idea here is put the pineapple chunks on top of the cheese, not buried underneath the cheese. This allows the heat of the oven to give the pineapple a slightly charred look, which enhances the flavor tremendously. It is not that we want the pineapple to glaze, since that would require it being basted (or sautéed) with sugar; instead, we want the pineapple to be heated through to enhance its sweet and smoky flavors. Experiment with different size pineapple chunks until you get to where you want to be.

Hawaiian Pizza

14-inch pizza shell

6 ounces seasoned pizza sauce

8 ounces shredded mozzarella

6 ounces Canadian bacon, diced or sliced

8 ounces pineapple chunk

Spread the pizza sauce evenly over the pizza. Sprinkle on the shredded mozzarella. Add the Canadian bacon followed by the pineapple chunks. Bake.

Canadian Bacon Pizza with Spinach & Mushrooms

14-inch pizza shell

3 tablespoons olive oil

6 ounces coarsely chopped Canadian bacon

8 ounces domestic mushrooms, sliced about 1/8-inch thick

4 ounces fresh baby spinach

6 ounces seasoned pizza sauce

8 ounces shredded mozzarella

2 ounces grated Parmesan

Basic Prep (can be held one day): In a sauté pan, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the Canadian bacon and sauté only until the bacon begins to take on a light crisp.

Add the mushrooms and sauté for about 4 minutes, or until the mushrooms lose most of their moisture and begin to firm up.

Add the spinach leaves and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the leaves just begin to wilt.

• Spread the pizza sauce evenly over the crust. Add the reserved spinach and Canadian bacon mixture. Add the mozzarella and the Parmesan. Bake.

CB& Frittata Panini

Yield: 4 large panini

This tasty panini is easy to make and quite delicious. Once the frittata has been made, it can be held for 2-3 hours at room temperature. To order, the panini is assembled and put in the panini press. Also, the frittata part can be made ahead and put in the cooler and stored covered for up to 3 days.

To make the frittata

8 extra-large eggs

4 tablespoons skim milk

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

6 ounces diced Canadian bacon

1/2 cup diced roasted red bell peppers

1/2 cup diced Roma or plum tomatoes

3/4 cup shredded mozzarella and provolone blend

8 slices panini-style bread*

In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, skim milk, and mustard. Whisk to blend. Add the Canadian bacon, bell peppers, tomatoes and cheese blend. Stir well to combine the ingredients.

Pour the egg mixture into a lightly greased (or sprayed) baking pan that measures about 9 inches x 9 inches. Bake in a 375 F oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until the eggs are set and there is firmness to the frittata when pressed with your finger.

Allow the frittata to cool for about 20 minutes. Turn it out of the pan and cut into 4 equal squares. Place each square between two slices of panini-style bread. Put the sandwich into a panini press to toast the bread. If you don't have a panini press, toast the bread in the oven.

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