Bacon is soooo yummy! But what exactly is bacon? Why are there so many different kinds around the world?
What is bacon?
Bacon is pork that is cut from the belly, side or across the back of the pig, depending on the type of bacon.
First the pork is either wet-cured in brine or dry-cured in salt and sometimes smoked.
This is what makes it bacon.
What are the different kinds of bacon?
Streaky Bacon (or American Bacon outside of North America) is cut from the belly of the pig (section 10).
Pancetta is Italian streaky bacon from the pork belly (section 10). It has been seasoned with salt & pepper or maybe clove, rosemary, juniper, nutmeg, pepper, fennel and garlic. It is curled into a roll and wrapped in a case before curing. It’s not smoked. It can be used in thin round slices or chopped into cubes or matchsticks.
Streak of Lean Bacon comes from the back of the pig (section 1) and is salt cured. To cook it, first it is boiled in water to get rid of some of the saltiness. Some people then soak it in buttermilk and dredge it with a cornmeal and pepper mixture. It is then fried.
Back Bacon is cut from the loin (section 6). It is also called English bacon or Irish bacon and in the US it is called Canadian bacon. (This is interesting because this is the type of bacon served in the UK most often.)
In Canada, back bacon is traditionally served as Peameal Bacon. It is back bacon that is wet-cured but not smoked, and the slab is coated in fine cornmeal and then sliced.
Jowl Bacon is from the cheeks of the pig (section 2).
In Italy it is called Guanciale [gwan-CHA-lay].
It is not smoked, and it is dry-cured with a salt rub with black or red pepper.
Chinese Bacon, also known as Lap Yuk or La Rou is made from pork belly (section 10). It is cured with a soy sauce, sugar, cinnamon and star anise mixture. It is air-dried for several days before being sliced. In Hunan, China, in the Zhangjiajie Tianzi mountains, it is famous for being grilled on a stick.
What are Rashers?
Bacon is usually sold in slices – which can also be called rashers. In fact, in the UK bacon is sometimes called rashers.
- thin slices have approximately 35 strips per pound
- regular slices have 16-20 strips per pound
- thick slices usually have 12-16 strips per pound
How is Bacon Sliced?
Here is a video showing an industrial machine slicing bacon. (Don’t blink!)
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