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Bacon

 

Information about bacon including history, description, buying and storing, bacon cuts and lots of bacon recipes

 

Jump to:-   What is Bacon?  |   Bacon or Ham? Curing and smoking Types of Bacon  |  Cuts of Bacon  |  Buying and Storing Bacon  How to cook bacon plus bacon Recipes  |  Bringing Home the Bacon

 

 

SEE ALSO :-    Pork - General Preparation & Cooking Times   |   Cuts of Pork Pork Recipes

 

3rd September is International Bacon day and as traditionally, the slaughtering of pigs took place during the autumn months to ensure there was ample meat available to preserve for winter use, it's the perfect time of year for this food celebration day.

 

What is Bacon?

Originally the term "bacon" referred to any pork - fresh or preserved - however today the term is only given to pork which has been preserved by either wet or dry salt curing. 

 

What's the difference between bacon and ham?

Bacon refers to any cut of cured pork, both joints and rashers, before and after it has been cooked.

Ham refers to a particular cut of bacon from the hind leg called gammon, which has been cooked. So, the way we understand it, any other bacon joint which has been cooked isn't called ham, it's called boiled (or baked) bacon.

 

How is pork cured and smoked to make bacon

There are two basic methods of curing - wet and dry.   In general, the longer the cure, the longer the meat will keep and the curing process takes from a few days to several months.

 

Types of Bacon

Dry-cured bacon is pork which has been rubbed with a mixture of salt, sugar and sometimes other ingredients.  This is the most sort after, and unfortunately most expensive type of bacon but generally  produces the best quality bacon,  particularly for frying or grilling.

 

Wet-cured bacon is pork which has been soaked in a brine (salt and water) solution, which penetrates the meat faster than a dry cure. Unfortunately, some manufacturers also inject the meat with the brine solution which not only increases the weight but also results in a less tasty bacon which leaks liquid when fried or grilled resulting  in less crispy bacon.
 

Tendersweet bacon undergoes a milder curing process, usually using more sugar.

 

After the curing process, it can be left as it is which is called ‘green’ bacon.

 

Smoked bacon is bacon which has been cured by one of the methods above and then smoked. The smoking process not only adds extra flavour  but further increases its keeping properties.

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Cuts of Bacon

 

 

Sliced and cut bacon include:-

 

Streaky bacon rashers:  These are cut from pork belly. It is very fatty with long layers of fat running parallel to the rind but for many, is the best tasting, especially in a sandwich.   Sliced pancetta is the Italian equivalent of streaky bacon.

 

Back bacon rashers:  These are cut from the loin in the middle of the back of the pig. They are lean and meaty with much less fat than streaky.

 

Middle Bacon Rashers These are a combination of streaky and back cut in one large slice (pictured at the top of this page).

 

Lardons are made from very fatty pieces of bacon such as the belly, which are cut into small cubes. Pancetta is a good example of this type of cut

 

Gammon Steaks  These are cut from the middle gammon cut and are generally around 1cm/½ - inch thick and sold with the skin on.

 

Bacon Chops  These can come from the neck (collar), shoulder or back

 

Bacon joints include:-
Collar which is taken from the back of a pig near the head.
Hock which comes from the ankle joint between the thigh and the foot.
Gammon which is the large upper part from the hind leg which once cooked is referred to as ham

 

Bacon Buying tips
•   Bacon should not smell of anything. If it does it’s not fresh
•   Bacon should but not wet or slimy just slightly damp
•   The fat should be firm and white although the fat of smoked bacon may be slightly yellow
•   There should be no green shimmering parts on the flesh
•   The rind should be smooth and elastic. The colour will depend on the curing process
•   The meat should be firm with a deep pink colour.

 

How to store bacon

•   Ready packaged bacon should be stored in the refrigerator at all times. Once opened, re-wrap in clingfilm. Use by dates should be strictly adhered to.
•   Bacon can be bought in bulk and frozen. Rashers should be divided into portions, placed in plastic bags with as much air expelled as possible and tightly wrapped.

•   Joints can also be frozen. Wrap in plastic wrap ensuring it is air tight and freeze.
•   Frozen bacon should be completely defrosted before use.
 

 

Bacon Recipes
 

Cooking bacon rashers is a quick affair. Back and middle rashers should be grilled or fried for 2-4 minutes per side depending on how thick they are. Try not to overcook as they can become tough. Streaky bacon should be grilled or fried for 3-6 minutes per side depending on how crispy you like your bacon. When frying bacon, additional oil or fat is unnecessary.

 

Whilst there are hundreds of recipes on this site, below are just a few which use the various cuts of bacon. For lots more main course recipes using bacon click here or use the search form below to find starters and accompaniments which use bacon.  

 

Back bacon rashers:   Fried Liver and Bacon HT MC 15mins

 

Bacon Chops     Stuffed Bacon Chops HT MC 50mins

 

Collar      Honey Glazed Bacon HT MC British 90mins plus soaking

 

Gammon Joint     Roast Ham in Stout HT MC British 150mins plus cooling

 

Gammon Steaks     Gammon Steaks with Cider HT MC English 55mins plus soaking

 

Hock       Bajan Black Bean Soup HT SP West Indian 190mins plus soaking

 

Lardons     Tartiflette (coming soon)

 

Middle Bacon Rashers These are probably best just grilled or fried especially for breakfast or brunch.

 

Pancetta strips      Skewered Monkfish with Pancetta BBQ Hot MC 20mins

 

Pancetta Cubes    Greens with Bacon HT ACC 25mins

 

Streaky bacon rashers   Terrine of Meats with Port CD HD 90mins

 

 

Bringing Home the Bacon

 

Bringing home the bacon

 

Have you ever wondered how the phrase "bring home the bacon"  came about?  In the 12th century, a church in the town of Dunmow, Essex (UK)  promised a flitch  of bacon to any married man who could swear before God that he had not quarrelled with his wife for a year and a day. Thus, any man  who could "bring home the bacon"  was held in high esteem by the community for his self-control and patience.

 

Even today the town of Great Dunmow holds The Dunmow Flitch Trials every 4 years which awards a flitch of bacon (a salted and cured side) to married couples from anywhere in the world, if they can satisfy the Judge and Jury of 6 maidens and 6 bachelors that in 'twelvemonth and a day', they have 'not wish themselves unmarried again'.  If you (or your spouse) want to apply, visit the official website at  www.dunmowflitchtrials.co.uk

 

The picture on the right isn't really a flitch because it is just a side of fresh pork i.e. it hasn't been cured yet.

 

 

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