Bacon…need I say more? I can probably stop writing right now and most of you would be satisfied with that one simple word…bacon! It is amazing how one humble word can make so many people happy. This salty, savoury, pork delight is an absolute staple in most households never mind restaurants. To quote my aunt, “Everything is better with bacon!”
Bacon is the best! Bacon provides a meaty, rich depth to a dish while adding a crisp texture and an intoxicating aroma. I do not think I have ever had a meal that included bacon where I thought the bacon did not add something amazing to the dish. Its saltiness and smoky flavour make it a must for many different menu items that I have created in the past.
In North America we predominantly use two different types of bacon: Canadian bacon and strip bacon.
Canadian bacon, also known as back bacon, comes from the loin of the pig. The excess fat is removed and the meat is brined in a solution of salt, water, sodium nitrate and flavouring for three to four days. The loin is then taken out of the liquid, rinsed and left to dry for twenty-four hours. The loin is now ready to be smoked. The pork is smoked until it reaches an internal temperature of 150*F. The loin is now officially Canadian bacon and is fully cooked and ready to use.
Strip bacon, also known as side bacon, is made from pork belly. The skin of the belly is removed and can be used to make the delicious snack known as pork rinds. From here the pork belly is brined with a solution of salt, water and other flavouring like liquid smoke or maple syrup depending on the producer. The brine can be injected into the belly or the belly is left to soak for a few hours. The belly is then rinsed and left to hang and dry. The belly is then smoked for a short period of time. The final product of strip bacon is now ready to be sliced and packaged. Unlike Canadian bacon, strip bacon must be cooked before consumption.
Ten fun facts about bacon:
- Bacon dates back to early 1500 B.C in China when preserving and salting pork bellies first came about.
- Bacon has its very own day; International Bacon Day is September 3rd.
- 69% of all food service operators serve bacon is some form.
- A 250-pound pig yields approximately twenty-three pounds of bacon.
- There is such thing as a Bacon Fan Club: as a member, bacon will be delivered right to your door monthly to fill your bacon cravings
- There is bacon-flavoured alcohol. Beer, vodka and bourbon are the most popular.
- Bacon may cure hangovers. British researchers at Newcastle University have linked the amino acids in bacon to help replace the neurotransmitters that become decreased during heavy drinking and cause a hangover.
- New products like bacon toothpaste, bacon floss and bacon cologne can help you work on your personal hygiene while enjoying bacon.
- Four strips of bacon have less calories than two scrambled eggs.
- Annually, Canada ships the equivalent of five slices of bacon for every human being on this planet all over the world.
Who doesn’t love bacon? Children, adults and the elderly, they all love bacon! Dogs and cats love bacon. Everyone loves bacon! Well, except for my sister and my sister-in-law, but they are in a rare and strange group of people that do not eat bacon. Their loss, more bacon for the rest of us. All this bacon talk is making me hungry for some salty goodness. My favourite ways to eat bacon are in mac and cheese, on a burger or in any breakfast food. For a sweet treat, I love bacon dipped in white chocolate. Once again, “Everything is better with bacon!” Even chocolate!
Melissa Hryb is the chef at Marion Street Eatery, where she specializes in hearty comfort food with a twist.
Follow her on Twitter @MarionStreetEat or Instagram @MarionStreetEatery