From applewood smoked bacon to maple and brown sugar-flavored bacon, there are many different types of this delicious meat made from pork. Bacon has taken the culinary world by storm, and it is not just for breakfast anymore. More and more people are eating bacon at all times of the day and night as part of a variety of dishes and sandwiches.
Food historians have traced bacon all the way back to 1500 B.C. It is believed that people in China cured pork bellies with salt, much like the process used to cure bacon today. The Romans and Greeks were also known to use a form of bacon in their cooking processes in ancient times.
What is Bacon?
Bacon is a type of salt-cured pork that is really popular. From becoming a favorite breakfast side to becoming essential in many fast-food restaurants, bacon is something everyone wants to indulge in. It has gained so much popularity in the North American continent that it caused a movement to start known as bacon mania.
Although the debate of when this movement began is still unconfirmed, culinary experts say that bacon mania began at the end of the 20th century. It gained additional popularity during this period because low-carb and high-protein foods were very popular.
Not to forget, ever since bacon mania began, the world has seen bacon being used for many different things, such as bacon band-aids, alarm clocks that wake people up with the smell of cooked bacon, and bacon-flavored bubble gum. It is safe to say that this delicious pork product has become much more than just a side dish.
Since it is a meat that has gained so much popularity, there are many different types of bacon available. If you are a bacon lover, here is what you need to know about bacon.
How Is Bacon Made?
In different regions around the world and the type of bacon you are using, the bacon-making process varies. However, the most common ways involve brine or hot or cold smoke that is used to add a smoky flavor to the meat. Then, the slab of meat is sliced, and the thickness depends on what you prefer. Once the bacon has been sliced according to your preferences, it can be cooked on the griddle, in a bacon press, baked, or fried.
What Is The Thickness Of Bacon Slices?
Thick slices: The thick slices of bacon are usually 1/8 inch thick. Because it is a thick slice, this bacon thickness is ideal for different kinds of pasta and sandwiches. It does not have the same kind of crispiness as compared to thinner slices.
Regular slices: The regular slices are usually 1/16 inch thick. This is the type of bacon that is available at grocery stores.
Restaurant slices: This is the thinnest bacon slice that is available. It is 1/32 inch per slice. Since it is pretty thin, it is the type that tends to get crispy. It is found in restaurants, hotels, and diners, mainly because it is less expensive than thicker cuts of bacon.
Curing Process of Bacon
Curing is a cooking process in which bacon is cured by smoke and adding salt to it. The most popular way of curing food is with salt, sugar (especially brown sugar), and other flavor enhancers to promote a better flavor.
Cured vs. Uncured
Cured bacon is usually preserved with sodium nitrite and salt. Nitrites are the additives that give bacon its subtle pink color, amongst other things.
The two ways to cure bacon would be by pumping or dry curing. In this, the concentration of nitrites is controlled. When pump-curing bacon, the nitrites should not go over 120 parts per million (ppm), and when dry-curing bacon, they should not go over 200 ppm.
With uncured bacon, sodium nitrite is not used. Some forms of uncured bacon include a more natural preservation method of using celery, parsley, beet extract, and sea salt.
Types of Bacon
Duck bacon is the option for people that want to be munching on a good piece of meat but do not like indulging in pork. Bacon is a cut of meat that does not necessarily have to be from pork. Duck bacon is cut from duck, obviously.
Duck bacon is a niche item that is made in many ways. There is no one way that is suitable for all people; depending on the individual, duck bacon can be made in different ways. Most commonly, duck bacon is cured. Thick slices are cut from the breast of the duck meat. This type of bacon has its benefit as it is not as fatty as pork bacon.
Canadian bacon is also known as back bacon. Authentic Canadian bacon is identified by its thick slices, perfect cure, and the way it has been cooked. Because it has a lean cut and unique appearance, it is often confusing and compared with ham.
The name Canadian bacon is only used in the United States. Moreover, it is a bacon type that is really popular in America. In Canada, it is just called back bacon. Canada is famous for another type of bacon as well called Peameal bacon. This southern Ontario bacon is made with boneless pork loins and coated in cornmeal.
Thanks to coconut bacon, vegans have finally entered bacon mania because they do not eat the bacon that comes from pigs. Coconut bacon is not made with any kind of meat, making it one of the most interesting kinds of bacon available.
This vegan bacon alternative is made with coconut flakes, spices, and salt. Most of the time, coconut bacon is made with maple syrup and soy sauce. With the right proportions of flavorings, coconut bacon can have the same consistency and flavor as real bacon, which is what earned its name.
This bacon is the best way for vegetarians and vegans to enjoy bacon, just as carnivores enjoy it on a daily basis.
The biggest contribution to the bacon world would be Italy as it serves us with salt-cured pork belly known as pancetta. Generally, only black pepper is used to elevate the taste of this meat, but there can be other spices added to heighten the taste.
Pancetta has a few popular types as well, such as arrotolata and stesa. Arrotolata is usually consumed raw, and it is commonly used in sandwiches. Stesa is usually eaten in grilled strips and used in pasta dishes. Although these types of bacon are completely different from each other, true bacon lovers can eat and appreciate both.
This type of pork belly cut originates from Korea and is called samgyeopsal or samgyeopsal-gui. Samgyeopsal-gui means “three layers of flesh,” which does not sound like something appetizing or indulging at all. However, when this type of bacon is prepped correctly, it has the utmost delicious taste ever.
This Korea-originated bacon is quite fatty and thick. Samgyeopsal-gui is considered a grilled dish because gui means grilled. Unlike the other types of bacon, this three-layered flesh bacon does not get marinated, nor does it get seasoned. Recently, there have been versions of this seasoned samgyeopsal-gui bacon, making it a popular meat option in Korea. It has gained so much popularity that there is an entire day dedicated to this bacon on March 3rd.
Chicken Fried Bacon
Culinary legends state that chicken fried bacon was first ever invented in a restaurant in Texas during the early ’90s. What leaves people confused is how could someone not think about frying this beautiful piece of meat before. Whatever the case may be, this bacon type is delicious, despite how unhealthy it can be.
Chicken fried bacon is strips of bacon that have been deep-fried. This bacon is usually served as an appetizer with complementary sauces. What you need to keep in mind is that this bacon is pretty unhealthy, no matter how delicious it may be.
Elk and Venison Bacon
Another alternative for non-pork eaters would be elk bacon or venison bacon. Deer, granted, and elk are not the same kind of animals, but the meat from these animals has the amount of fat needed to add a smokey flavor to the meat, making it the perfect option for bacon. Adding honey is a source of flavoring to elk bacon strips adds a layer of scrumptiousness to this piece of meat.
Lap yuk is a type of bacon that is from China, and it is used in many popular Asian dishes. Most of the time, lap yuk is produced from a part of the pork belly. In addition, this type of bacon is air-cured with brown sugar, soy sauce, and different spices.
This bacon is sold with the rind attached to it, so it is safe to say that this meat cut possesses a strong pork flavor and aroma. Lap yuk is often infused with star anise and cinnamon as well to give it a unique flavor.
Lardon or lardoons is another type of fatty bacon that is served in either a cube form or in small strips. Sometimes, it is also referred to as pork fat. Lardon is the type of bacon that can be used for many different kinds of foods, including salad. This bacon originates from France, and it is popularly used in dishes of that country.
Lardon can be prepared from different cuts, including pork belly and fatback. Authentic lardon cannot be smoked; it must be cured with salt. Although it does not resemble the appearance of ham at all, its taste can be compared to that ultra-rich meat piece.
Salo belongs to Russia, and it is a traditional food in this country. However, in Eastern Europe and the British nation, it can easily be considered bacon. The word salo means bacon. This meat is cured slab bacon and is most commonly salt-cured.
This bacon can be cooked or eaten raw; it solely depends on what you want to eat. If this meat is cooked, it is most commonly fried, but depending on a country’s geographical position, this bacon is cooked differently. There are some countries that cook salo with black pepper, garlic, and salt. In Russia, it is served on bread with garlic.
Turkey bacon is a non-pork option, and it is often considered a healthy alternative to traditional bacon. It undergoes a process in which the turkey is first seasoned and then chopped in a way where it can resemble the appearance of bacon strips.
Although it has lesser calories and lesser fat than traditional bacon, turkey bacon has high contents of ingredients that can be detrimental to health, and it is processed.
It is available at stores that sell it as an alternative to classic bacon. Similarly, this bacon can be microwaved, baked, or pan-fried until it is crispy and golden.
Jowl bacon is essential in the Southern part of the United States. It is a type of bacon is obtained from the cheeks of the pork, and it is smoked and cured. This bacon has become the staple for many soul foods, but outside the United States, it has a non-smoked and dry-cured version called guanciale. Most of the time, this bacon is used as a garnish or used inside sandwiches.
Similar to streaky bacon, this type of bacon has typically used aside in a full English breakfast (especially popular in the United Kingdom).
When talking about German bacon, people are often referring to a meet that is referred to as Frühstücksspeck. In German, Frühstücksspeck means breakfast fat or breakfast speck. Frühstücksspeck is sometimes smoked, cured slices of pork.
Apart from this, there are a few other types of bacon meats that are quite popular in Germany. People of Bavaria love Wammerl, which is grilled pork belly. Griebien is bacon cut in small cubes, which is quite popular in the southern part of the country. Moreover, when it comes to meat in Germany, another popular one would be Bratwurst.
Jalapeno bacon is the ultimate combination of bacon and jalapenos. As suggested by its name, jalapenos are added to this bacon so the standard bacon dish can be elevated with a delicious spice.
Although this type of bacon may seem different for many, this way of cooking it is becoming more and more popular. There are some brands that are releasing their own versions of jalapeno bacon that can be purchased at stores. Moreover, this type of bacon has become a popular option in bacon mania as well.
Ways to Cook Bacon
In The Oven
It is pretty simple to cook bacon in the oven. Just preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Cover the baking tray with aluminum foil and spread 6 slices of bacon on it. On top of the bacon, keep a clean cooling rack. Roast the slices of bacon for 6 minutes; turn them over and roast for another 6 minutes. This will allow the bacon to cook perfectly and evenly.
In the Microwave
Take a bowl and flip it over on a plate. Spread the bacon on top of the bowl and cook it for 1 minute. This way, the grease will drip down the sides of the bowl. Since there will be no grease left on the strips of bacon, the bacon will get crunchy, and it will be less greasy.
On the Grill
When adding bacon to burgers, make sure you are grilling them for 5 to 7 minutes on top of the cooler part of the grill.
In the Deep Fryer
Using the deep fryer is a great way to cook your bacon. Take 6 strips of bacon and add it in hot oil for 5 minutes. This will give you chewy, curled bacon.
In Its Own Fat
If you frequently cook bacon, you know how much fat it secretes. Instead of throwing that away, store the fat in a container. Next time you are cooking bacon, use the fat. In a cast-iron skillet, add the fat and fry the fresh pieces of bacon on medium-high heat. When the frozen liquid fully melts, add the bacon strips, and let it cook. When it is done cooking, blot it with paper towels and start eating.
And there you have it. Many types of bacon, how it is made, and different ways you can cook it and serve it up. Bacon is a type of meat loved by people all around the world, so you cannot wrong if you are cooking with guests or just for your own family. Whether it is used as a side or the main star in a savory dish, every bite of it will be highly appreciated.
How long is cooked bacon good at room temperature?
It’s best to store cooked bacon in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking.
How much protein in 2 slices of bacon?
Two slices of bacon typically contain around 6-7 grams of protein. However, the exact amount may vary depending on the brand and type of bacon.
How to thaw out bacon
- Remove the bacon from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator.
- Allow the bacon to thaw in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
- If you need to thaw the bacon more quickly, you can place it in a sealed plastic bag and submerge it in cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the bacon is thawed.