Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Thick or Thin, It's Bacon!

There is just something about the smell and taste of bacon that makes whatever it's put on, or in, simply delicious. Bacon is a pork product; a salt cured and smoked part of the pig which comes from the sides or the belly of the beast. The many varieties of bacon depends on the parts used and the techniques to preserve it. Bacon itself has very little meat to it; it's the fat that gives bacon products most of the flavor and richness; also its crispness after frying. Before frying, some of the fat can be removed, frozen and saved for later use. The fat left in a fry pan solidifies at room temperature and can be used like lard or vegetable shortening to flavor biscuits, cornbread, and dressings.

In America, the typical bacon product used is either thin or thick strips. The thin strips, depending on brand quality, can almost be paper thin; frying up very quickly and leaving behind more oil than a cook knows what to do with. One batch I made recently started out as ten inch strips and quickly whittled down to crispy, melt in the mouth, snack pieces of three inches.

The cut of bacon for my household is thick; more meaty than thin, less fat which makes more for the eating. The typical ten inch pieces only shrink down to about seven inches; they don't take longer to fry up either. In a 12 inch skillet, high heat, I was able to cook 6-7 pieces in each batch; each batch took only 8 minutes to fry up to delicious crispiness.

While bacon is often used as a sandwich addition, the most popular is the "BLT" or "Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato". I'm not a fan of the tomato part as I believe the juice of the tomato simply takes away from the crispiness of the bacon, lettuce and toasted bread. For moisture, I slather on a generous dose of mayonnaise on both slices of bread; while my husband prefers using Miracle Whip.

Use the Search function on this blog page and you'll find I've used bacon as an ingredient from grilled cheese to meatloaf to even baking up cupcakes.

Other cuts of bacon popular in, or finding its niche in, USA cooking and baking are Canadian which comes from the back center (or eye of the round). It is more similiar to a traditional ham product than bacon; and if you've eaten an "Egg McMuffin" from McDonald's, than you know what I'm referring to. From Italy, Pancetta is a nonsmoked, cut extremely thin bacon which will add the mild taste of pork without the smokiness of smokedbacon; sometimes it comes flavored with herbs and spices.

No matter how you like your bacon, well what can I say, "It's Bacon!!!".

Mary Cokenour

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