A Bacon Lovers Guide to Bacon

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Transcript of A Bacon Lovers Guide to Bacon

  • Food is about emotional reactions. Certain smells remind of us of our childhoods, certain tastes bring us back home, and foods become our salvation in times when we need comfort. There is no food that contributes to our emotions quite like bacon does. Traditionally, a cheap cut reserved for peasants and the poor, bacon has evolved into focus of a huge cult-like following. Nowadays, you can see countless products inspired by the cured pig belly. There is bacon candy, bacon cupcakes, bacon design bandages, and countless bacon internet memes. Why is it that bacon has become such a fanatical food, inspiring both extreme love, and hate alike? Were convinced that if you hate bacon, you probably also hate babies, ponies, love, and life itself! How did bacon become such a big thing, and where did it even come from anyway? In the following pages, well answer many questions and provide interesting facts on bacon, along with some really awesome recipes and food porn. Because thats exactly what bacon is porn for your taste buds. Lets start at the beginning.
  • To start, lets get out of the way, the question, What is qualified as bacon? bacon [bey-kuh n] 1. The back and sides of the hog, salted and dried or smoked, usually sliced thin. 2. Pork, cured in brine. There are reports that suggest bacon being around as far back as 1500 years ago in China, but as far as we can actually trace back through documented recipes, bacon was known to exist in ancient Roman times, then called petaso. In modern times, were pretty spoiled with our advanced technology, but back then there was no refrigeration to preserve food. So, the techniques of curing and pickling developed in order to keep food for longer periods of time. Pigs were relatively easy to domesticate, and petaso was a common dish in Roman times, although it was quite different than how we know bacon today. Petaso was most likely boiled with figs, and then browned. Pigs with figs! During the middle ages and beginning of the Renaissance era, cured pig belly was cheap and accessible to the peasant classes, so bacon was very common among the masses of people in countries like France, Italy, and England, among many other European nations. In 1770s England, the industrialization of bacon begins as John Harris of Wiltshire, England opens the first business focusing on the sale of bacon. To this day, Wiltshire is still considered by many, as the capital of bacon. The British version of bacon is different than the more popular American bacon, but well get into that more, later. In 1875, British immigrant, William Davies gives birth to Canadian bacon, as he begins to sell salt-cured peameal in the legendary St. Lawrence Market in Toronto (our home town). Toronto was long-called Hogtown, due to other cities seeing Toronto as being full of greedy people, but in 1898, Davies helped solidify this moniker, as The William Davies Company became the largest pork processor in the entire British Empire (which, at the time included parts of Canada, The Caribbean, South America, India, Africa, Australia, among others). During the turn of the 20th century, the Mayer brothers, German immigrants had created and grown a successful meat company, lead by Oscar Mayer, and serving the German population of Chicago, began participating in the famed Chicago Worlds Fair of 1893. At the dawn of the roaring 20s, the Mayer Food Company (today, owned by Kraft) re-established itself in Madison, Wisconsin, and in 1924, Oscar Mayer released the first pre-packaged and pre-sliced bacon product to the American public. TheStoryofBacon
  • During the 1980s, a fitness craze, lead by characters such as Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons, swept across the US, while bacon (and any fat) was completely demonized. They were wrong of course, because we all know bacon is magnificent! Between 2001 and 2009, the use of bacon in food services, including purchase for home use, grew about 25%. In 2008, we were immersed in a recession that made many of us shy of spending, and top chefs began experimenting more with cheaper products. With the development of many amazing new dishes that incorporated the salty meat, bacons cult status began to take hold. Since 2011, bacons usage growth has been consistently increasing by 2.4%. 2011 2009 2001 Ancient Roman Ancient Germanic Old English Later Germanic Frankish French, taken from the Frank- ish term Petaso Bak Back Bakkon Bako Bacon Evolutionoftheterm"Bacon
  • There are several different types of bacon out there on the market, but when it comes down to it, theres really only 3 main types of real bacon. According to the definition of what it is, bacon should be: 1. Made from the belly (side) or back (loin) of a pig. 2. Cured either by wet cure method, or dry cure method. 3. Its optional if its smoked or not. Lets begin with the most loved version. American American bacon, which is also known as streaky bacon by the British, is the most well-known version, and arguably, the most loved. Its made from the belly cut (which is technically from the side, not the actual belly). American bacon has a fatty, salty and somewhat umami flavor to it that just cant be replicated by any other product out there. This type of bacon can, and is used to make numerous other products and dishes better. British First off, Britain or The UK covers England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Now that we got that terminology out of the way British bacon is made primarily from the loin of the pig, which is located in the middle closer to the back of the pig. The loin is much leaner, but the British version (unlike the Canadian, which well see next), has much of the back fat still attached to it. To keep some additional flavor in there, the British bacon cut also has a portion of the belly still attached to the loin, so in a way, it gets the best of both worlds. The Brits call pieces of bacon rashers (but only if its the loin cut the American belly bacon is just called streaky in the UK). Canadian In the US, its called Canadian bacon, in the UK its called back bacon, and we Canadians just call it peameal. This name is due to the yellow colored meal made from dried and ground yellow peas that coats the outside of the loin. This practice was developed in Toronto, Canada, and was originally started for preservative reasons. Unlike the British version, which remains relatively fatty, peameal bacon is trimmed of most of the fat, with only a very thin layer remaining. What About the Others? So, this is where it gets tricky. There are many other alternative bacons out there, such as turkey bacon, chicken bacon, vegetarian bacon, etc. Were sorry to say that technically, these varieties are not considered bacon. Actually, they arent even close. However, lets not kick them out of bed just yet. These products are made using a bacon-style TheBaconfamily
  • method of production, so I guess theres room to let them in... and for those people out there with dietary or religious restrictions, then these alternatives are good options. The other products to consider are the Italian cured meats. Probably the most famous, prosciutto is cured and aged. Does this make it bacon? No. Prosciutto is amazing, and any true bacon lover should appreciate good prosciutto (jamon Iberico, anyone?) but there are a couple differences. Prosciutto is made from the ham cut (which is from the upper back leg/bum). The other difference is that hams are cured in a slightly different type of brine than bacon. We know, this is being ultra picky, but rules are rules! Pancetta, on the other hand this can be considered bacon. Pancetta is made from the belly cut, and is dry salt cured, then hung and aged for about 3 months. Its also often used in Italian cooking, much the same as we would use bacon (streaky) in French or North American cooking. So, pancetta IS bacon. It just speaks a different language. Green Bacon This is bacon thats cured, but not smoked. There is also bacon that is smoked but not cured (technically thats not even bacon!). Nitrate-Free Bacon The majority of bacon is cured using sodium nitrate from pink curing salt. Nitrate-free bacon is cured without curing salts, and often is cured using the aid of celery and cabbage, which produce nitrates naturally. Wet-Cured Bacon This bacon is cured in a brine before smoking. Dry-Cured Bacon This is cured using a dry rub salt mixture (much like the recipe in here).
  • Just a small disclaimer before we go too deep into thisanything in excess can be bad for you, but bacon has definitely been falsely demonized by many in the health realm. This is mostly due to the misinformed thinking that fats make you fat (which, we should all know by now, is wrong). Heres a general nutritional breakdown of bacon (obviously, amounts could differ depending on how the pig was raised). Fats in Bacon 50% monounsaturated 40% saturated 10% polyunsaturated The monounsaturated fats that make up the majority of fats in bacon, are in large partially made up from oleic acid, which is highly touted as heart healthy. This is one reason why olive oil has earned its healthy reputation. Saturated fats are definitely the most misunderstood of all fats. In moderate amounts, they wont kill you. In fact, you actually need saturated fats in your body to live optimally. The polyunsaturated fats are made up mostly from Omega 6 fats. This is the bad fat in bacon, BUT only because we already have so much of it in our diets from other sources... Now, lets take a look at some positive nutritional benefits If wer