The cut used to make bacon comes from the side - or belly - of the pig. When it is cured and smoked, it becomes bacon. An abundance of fat gives bacon its sweet flavor and tender crispiness.
Bacon is typically sold in slices. Bacon may be packaged in thin slices (about 35 strips per pound), regular slices (about 16-20 strips per pound), or thick slices (about 12-16 strips per pound). Bacon also may be available in slab
form, which is one solid piece. Slab bacon usually comes with a rind that is meant to be removed before slicing. Fried, diced bacon rind is known as cracklings
. How to Cook Bacon
There are a variety of ways to cook bacon:
Place bacon on a jelly-roll pan and cook three inches from the broiler, turning slices at least once. Drain the slices on absorbent paper towels before serving.
Place bacon slices in an ungreased or lightly greased frying pan over medium heat, turning often to achieve uniform crispness. Drain the slices on absorbent paper towels before serving.
This is a great way to cook bacon for a large gathering. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lay slices on a roasting rack in a shallow pan to catch the drippings. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes.
Place up to eight slices on a microwaveable rack or plate and cover loosely with absorbent paper towels. Cook on HIGH for six to eight minutes, repositioning the rack every two minutes. For microwave-in-the-package bacon, follow the instructions on the package label.
Bacon also may be available in other varieties including lower salt bacon (cured with less salt), ready-to-microwave bacon and pre-cooked bacon. Flavored bacon, such as peppered or apple-smoked, also may be available.
In general, because bacon has a higher fat content and intense smoky flavor, a little goes a long way. Sprinkle cooked bacon atop soups, pastas, vegetables, salads and casseroles.
Though the name may be a bit misleading, Canadian-style bacon
, is closer kin to ham than to regular bacon. Canadian-style bacon is fully-cooked, smoked pork loin.
For reference, pancetta
is also cut from the belly - like bacon - but is cured and unsmoked. Pancetta is born when pork belly is rubbed with salt or immersed in a brine until the salt completely penetrates the meat. Then the meat is rubbed with aromatic herbs and spices. It is eaten thinly sliced as a cold cut or used to enhance flavor.