Bacon refers to specific cuts of meat taken from the belly and side sections of swine. This section of the pig is heavily laden with fat, which gives a cured and smoked piece of bacon its flavor and crispness. Two of the most common bacon cuts purchased by U.S. consumers are slices and slabs, both of which have have qualities unique to the cut. The differences between the two start with the origin of the cut.
The term slab bacon refers to a solid piece of pork, cut from the belly and side of the pig and usually smoked. Slab bacon is not cut into slices and has a medium to high fat content. The cut usually contains an outer skin known as the rind, which locks in flavor. Cutting the rind away from the meat prior to cooking the bacon is a common practice. Instead of throwing it away, some cooks dice and fry bacon rinds.
Also known as side bacon or streaky bacon, standard bacon is cut from the belly of the pig and sliced into strips. This type of bacon is cured, then smoked, and is the bacon most commonly seen in U.S. supermarkets. A one-pound package of standard bacon typically contains 35 slices if thinly sliced and up to 16 slices if thickly cut. Packages containing regular cuts contain up to 20 slices.
American Style Canadian Bacon
In the United States, Canadian bacon is also referred to as back bacon, which is a lean portion of meat taken from the loin in the mid-section of the back of the pig and cut into medallion-shaped slices. Traditionally, back bacon is not smoked, but cured in sweet pickles and coated in cornmeal. U.S. versions of Canadian bacon are both cured and smoked, giving the bacon a different look and taste than the Canadian version.
Poultry and Beef Bacon
Although not true bacon as it is defined, some manufacturers sell beef and poultry cuts as bacon. Slabs and slices of both poultry and beef bacon are available to consumers, and according to U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, must display the kind of bacon on the packaging label. Beef bacon is smoked, cured and cut or sliced to resemble pork bacon, and poultry bacon is cooked, chopped and assembled in such a way that is also resembles pork bacon slices or slabs.
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