Bacon

Bacon

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From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

This is the fat and lean meat from the side and back of the pig, cured (i.e. preserved) by dry salting or brining. It is frequently smoked as well, for extra flavour and keeping qualities.

Types of bacon: Streaky bacon has alternate streaks of fat and lean, and is sold in narrow strips called rashers. It is delicious grilled or fried with eggs, tomatoes, kidneys; on grilled sandwiches, etc. It crumbles easily when cooked, to make a crisp garnish for vegetables, savoury creamed dishes and salads.

Middle cut bacon, also called ‘prime’, is lean meat with an edging of fat. It may have a ‘tail’ of streaky bacon, or the streaky rasher may be removed and sold separately.

Canadian bacon is sugar-cured, smoked pork loin, boned and with the fillet removed. It is very choice and may be eaten hot or cold. In some countries it is not sold as bacon but as ‘smoked pork loin’.

Shoulder bacon is lean meat from the shoulder, with little or no fat. Slices are squarish, and are usually thicker than other cuts. They are often used in dishes calling for ham, and can be a main course, fried or grilled with pineapple slices, tomatoes, etc.

Gammon of bacon is particularly popular in Britain. In recipes, gammon and ham may often be interchanged. The flavour is not quite the same as ham, however, because of the different breed of pig and the different curing method.

Speck is highly flavoured, cured and smoked pork which contains a very high proportion of fat. It is sold in slabs and is particularly popular in Germany and other European countries where it is used as the basic fat for browning and adding flavour to vegetables, soups, stews, savoury pastries, etc. It is easy to cut into slices, squares or dice and, when the fat is rendered, there are delicious crispy bits left to add extra flavour and texture to a dish. When a recipe calls for speck and it is not available, fatty streaky bacon or pickled belly of pork with a good proportion of fat may be used instead. Green bacon has been lightly cured but not smoked and therefore has a milder flavour than smoked bacon. If a recipe has green bacon in it, you can blanch ordinary bacon by covering it with cold water and bringing to the boil. Boil for 1 minute and drain. This will remove some of the salty and smoky flavour.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

  1. Grilled bacon: Remove rind, if desired. Snip bacon edges with kitchen scissors to prevent curling. Place rashers on a rack over the grill pan and grill about 10 cm from the heat for 2–3 minutes on each side.
  2. Fried bacon: Remove rind, if desired, and snip edges of bacon. Streaky bacon should be placed in a cold frying pan without extra fat and cooked over very low heat, turning frequently, until done to your liking. If you want the bacon crisp, pour off fat as it collects. Never allow the fat to smoke or the bacon will have a burnt flavour. For lean bacon, grease the frying pan with lard or butter and heat before adding bacon. Cook over medium heat, turning once or twice. Add a little extra fat if necessary to prevent sticking.
  3. Baked bacon: This is a useful method when you have a large quantity of bacon to cook, as it requires less watching and doesn’t need turning. Remove rind from bacon, if desired. Arrange bacon rashers on a wire rack placed over a baking dish, and bake in a preheated hot oven for 10–15 minutes.
  4. Green salad with bacon: Tear washed and dried, crisp salad greens into bite-size pieces and place in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with chopped fresh herbs. Fry streaky bacon rashers, rinds removed, until crisp; chop or crumble coarsely and add to salad. To the fat in the pan add a little vinegar to sharpen taste, pour hot over greens, toss lightly and serve at once.
  5. Grilled cheese and bacon sandwich: A favourite everywhere. Toast bread on one side, butter untoasted side and cover with sliced cheese. Arrange bacon rashers, rinds removed, on top and grill until bacon is crisp and cheese melted.

Note

  • A pig bred for bacon is called a baconer and a pig bred for ham is called a porker.

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