Bacon is defined as processed and cured pig meat. Pig meat is cured in salt brine to produce fresh or green bacon. As soon as fresh bacon is ready, it is all set to be sold as processed pork in various butcher shops. Fresh bacon is further kept for drying and sold as dried bacon. Usually, any cut of pork meat is used to make bacon but USA uses only pork belly to make bacon. Bacon is widely used in making enormous bacon recipes. Either form of bacon can be used to prepare bacon dishes that include bacon roll, bacon sandwich and bacon salad.
History of Bacon
It is believed that the term ‘bacon’ is used as a general term for pork meat till 16th century. According to food historians the curing of pork meat is an ancient process. In 1770, John Harris has started the large-scale business of curing the pork meat. He started his business in Wiltshire that is still famous as the main British region for producing bacon. Since then bacon has been the most important ingredient used in enhancing the flavor of various dishes.
Culinary Uses of Bacon
Either fresh or smoked bacon is used as an ingredient in several bacon recipes. Most of the bacon recipes are popular as breakfast recipes. Bacon goes well with sandwiches and rolls. Bacon is often used as a topping for pizza and hot dogs. The flavored or boiled bacon is fondly included in various salads and soups. Apart from the commonly served bacon dishes, bacon fat is also used in making large number of meat and curry dishes. Even in few salad dressings the drippings of bacon is used as a flavoring ingredient. Strips of bacon are widely rolled with any nice stuffing to make the well-liked bacon rolls. Usually, bacon is referred to as pork meat but often turkey, chicken and lamb meat is also processed and cured to make bacon-like product. Such bacon recipes are normally prevailing in Jewish and Muslim cuisines where pork meat is strictly prohibited. Bacon dishes are not only served in breakfast but also well-liked in lunch and dinner meals.
Popular Bacon Recipes
• Tatws Pum Munud – It is a very popular traditional stew dish in Welsh cuisine. Smoked bacon is used in this dish along with sliced potatoes and other vegetables.
• Bacon explosion – It is one of the most popular bacon recipes in American cuisine. Crumbled bacon and sausages are stuffed in bacon wrap to make this dish. It can be either smoked or oven-baked.
• Chocolate covered bacon – In this American dish, bacon is cooked and coated with either dark chocolate or white chocolate.
• Chicken fried bacon – It’s an American classic bacon recipe that involves battered bacon strips. It is called chicken fried bacon because battered bacon is then fried like chicken in hot oil.
• Hamburger – It is also considered as one of the most popular bacon recipes across the world. Bacon slice is used as a stuffing of the burger.
Cuisines Commonly Making Bacon Dishes
Bacon is a versatile ingredient that is used to enhance the flavor of the dishes. In almost all cuisines except Jewish and Muslim cuisines bacon is widely used. Especially in European and American cuisines, bacon dishes are widely eaten. American and Continental breakfast is incomplete without bacon recipes. In UK and Ireland, bacon is usually fried or grilled to make several breakfast bacon dishes. American cuisine fondly uses flavored bacon including red pepper and cinnamon flavorings. Bacon is so much loved in American cuisine that it is referred to as ‘bacon mania’ in the entire USA. Apart from these cuisines, Australian cuisine and cuisine of New Zeeland has also a huge list of bacon recipes in their food menu. Japan is the most popular Asian cuisine that has several beacon dishes in its palate. It is popularly pronounced as “beikon’ in Japanese cuisine and like USA, pork belly is used to make bacon. ‘Bara’ is the most popular uncured form of meat that is used to make numerous Japanese bacon dishes.
Preferred Methods of Making Bacon Dishes
• Smoked – Most commonly served bacon dishes are smoked.
• Boiled – Boiled bacon is usually used in soups as well as in salad dishes.
• Fried – Fried bacon dishes are quite popular in breakfast.
• Grilled – Grilled bacon recipes makes a healthy and full breakfast.
• Baked – baked bacon dishes are also quite popular in most of the cuisines.
Nutritive Value of Bacon
Bacon being a processed meat is considered as a calorific food item but bacon and bacon recipes contain certain nutritional values also. Bacon is a useful source of protein that is helpful for the overall growth of body tissues. Though, bacon is not loaded with vitamins and minerals but few essential nutrients are present in it.
• Niacin is a mineral that helps in proper functioning of nervous system and it is helpful in providing clear skin.
• Vitamin B12 is very helpful in the maintaining of a healthy nervous system.
• Iron is also present in bacon and bacon dishes. It strengthens the immunity system and helps in producing hemoglobin.
• Traces of thiamin and selenium are also found to be present in bacon that provides better digestion and prevents against various ailments.
Buying and Storage of Bacon
• It is good to buy packed bacon but always check the “sell by” date on the packet to ensure its freshness.
• It is beneficial to buy fresh bacon for cooking as it has longer shelf life. Buy less fatty meat due to health problems.
• Pre-cooked slices of bacon should only be purchased if cooking time is less.
• Unopened packed bacon can be stored in refrigerator for up to a week. If opened, then consume the bacon with in a week.
• Freeze bacon can be stored for several months as bacon never looses its flavor and texture while freezing.
• Leftover bacon dishes can be freeze or stored in refrigerator for up to 2-3 days.
Types of Bacon
Bacon lends itself to innumerable dishes and different varieties are used to make different bacon dishes.
• Pancetta – It’s an Italian variety of bacon that is flavored with salt and pepper. It is usually packed in a roll and cut into slices when ordered.
• Irish bacon – It is usually made up of the meat taken from the “eye” side of the pork loin. It is one of the leanest of all bacons.
• Canadian bacon – This type of bacon is also popular as ‘back bacon’ as it is made up of the meat taken from the back side of the pig.
• American bacon – It is made up of the meat of pig belly. It is first cured in brine and then smoked to be sold as the processed meat.
• Peppered bacon – Its name suggests everything about the variety. This type of bacon is mildly flavored with coarse black pepper. Other varieties include slab bacon and apple wood-smoked bacon that are also well-liked in making several bacon dishes.
• The total production of bacon is estimated to be 2 billion pounds per year in USA.
• BLT sandwich (bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich) is the most popular breakfast dish in America. This dish gained its popularity after World War II with the rapid growth of supermarkets.