The Skinny on… Bacon
Salty, a little sweet, often smoky, and always flavorful, bacon is a culinary wonder.
Article By: Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough
Standard American Strip (or Sliced) Bacon
Also called “streaky bacon” in Great Britain. Pork belly that’s been cured and smoked — usually thinly sliced, although sometimes thickly so. May be flavored with, for example, maple syrup or honey or crushed peppercorns. May also be center-cut (aka "reduced fat"). And may be uncured, as we’ve discussed. Makes the classic bacon-and-egg breakfast and the lunchtime BLT.
A Chinese version of standard American strip bacon — except flavored with Sichuan peppercorns, star anise and white pepper. Usually cut into thick strips. Best diced into a stir-fry.
Standard American belly bacon that hasn’t been sliced. It also must be cooked before eating. Dice it to flavor soups and stews. Cut larger chunks into smaller ones — wrap these and freeze, a little bacon at the ready the next time you make a braise.
Also called “Irish bacon,” “British bacon,” or “back bacon.” Pork loin that’s been cured, smoked and sliced — but not completely trimmed. There’s a good layer of fat and odd bits of meat attached to the narrow end of each teardrop-shaped slice. It’s always cured, sometimes with nitrites to preserve its pink color.
Also called “Canadian bacon” in the United States. Similar to rashers except the loin has been trimmed — and may or may not be sliced. Most Canadian-style bacon is fully cooked and ready to eat. Perfect for breakfast sandwiches — it fits on a toasted English muffin! Also great on pizzas and diced into fried rice.
True Canadian bacon, a well-trimmed pork loin that’s cured
but not smoked
. At one time, rolled in ground yellow peas (thus its name), now mostly rolled in cornmeal. Sold sliced or in chunks — or even in bigger hunks for roasting.
Cured pork belly, never smoked, often seasoned with cracked peppercorns. A classic in Italian cooking. Often rolled into logs to look like Canadian-style bacon. Usually diced and used as a porky flavoring and salty touch in soups, stews, braises and sautés.
Smoked and chopped turkey, formed into strips to look like standard American strip bacon. Some turkey bacon is only made from thigh meat; others, from all sorts of turkey parts. Read the label to know what you’re getting. It almost always must be cooked. Best in sandwiches and salads.
Looks like standard American strip bacon with alternating layers of fat and meat. Made from the beef “plate,” on the underside of the cow near the brisket. Cured and smoked, it has a more savory quality than pork bacon and is a great addition to omelets, frittatas and other egg dishes.
Also known as “facon” or “fakon.” Usually a soy-based product, formed into strips and flavored with smoke or smoky extracts. A good alternative to pork bacon with a very low
Two varieties: veggie bacon bits crumbled into tiny pieces, or pork bacon pieces that have been cooked, crisped, crumbled up and made shelf-stable. Both are ready to eat. Read the labels to determine which you have in hand. Best for shaking into salads or on top of dips.
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