One of the meats that Americans eat the most frequently is certainly bacon. A typical American consumes around 18 pounds of bacon annually. It is a salt-cured kind of pig belly with a high-fat content that may also be produced from beef and duck. The different hog cuts used to make each sort of bacon contribute to the wide variety that is consumed worldwide. Other varieties occur from the addition of flavorings and curing agents to the pork. Here are the 15 most typical varieties that you may buy at supermarkets and butcher shops.
1. Streaky Bacon
This is American bacon also known as bacon strips, that you’ll find in almost every grocery store near you. It’s a type of meat cut from the animal’s belly fat. For every one part of the meat, it has three strips of fat that run along with its rind thus the name “streaky bacon.” The unsmoked kind of streaky bacon is commonly known as side pork.
Streaky bacon is normally cured using salt and sodium nitrate solution and can also be dry-cured using a dry pork rub. Many people love this kind of bacon as it becomes crispy when cooked. It does well in combinations such as sandwiches and dishes with rich flavors. If you’d like to make your streaky bacon at home, here’s a quick guide for smoking bacon at home.
2. Slab Bacon
Slab bacon is basically whole chunks of slab bacon in its natural uncut state. It may have a rind or not and can be cured by salting, smoking, or aging. With this type of bacon, you can slice it the way you’d like, whether thin strips, medium, or thicker strips. There are many different types of pork cuts you can apply to your slab bacon after purchasing it. Slab bacon gives you the advantage of choosing your favorite bacon recipes, your preferred pork cuts, and the method of preparing your bacon.
3. Back Bacon
Back bacon is almost similar to the streaky bacon but is cut from pork loins at the pig’s back. It also contains less fat and is lean compared to streaky bacon. It’s thicker, tougher, and has a chewy texture. You can try out some homemade back bacon recipes.
4. Smoked and Flavored Bacon
Various types of wood fuels are usually used for smoking bacon to add an extra flavor to the steak. You’ll find different kinds of flavors in the grocery store like hickory and maple flavors.
Flavoring bacon is also a common way of adding an extra twist of tinge to bacon. Some common ingredients used for extra seasoning and flavoring of bacon include honey, black pepper and sugar, and maple syrup. You can try coating your bacon with these ingredients before smoking them at home.
5. Collar Bacon
Collar bacon comes from pork cut out from a pig’s shoulder. It spots a much darker color and has a richer flavor than the back bacon. Large portions of collar bacon are mostly lean meat but some marbling runs in between the flesh. The marbling is what enhances its moisture and great flavor.
Nowadays, collar bacon is not easy to come by in grocery stores. But if you’re lucky to find some, ensure to try out the Rosemary-stuffed collar bacon seasoned with parsley butter sauce. It is among the most recommended recipes for this type of bacon.
Lardons are a type of French-based pork bacon that are characteristically small fatty strips. The word lardon itself comes from the word “lard” which means animal fat that makes up a large percentage of the pork.
This type of bacon is commonly used in French cuisines for seasoning salads, omelets, quiche Lorraine and stews like beef bourguignon.
7. Non-pork Bacon
These are alternative bacon made from other animals apart from pork. Examples are turkey and duck pork. Such kinds of bacon are suitable for people who refrain from eating pork for religious reasons. Some may be allergic to pork while others don’t like pork at all.
The turkey bacon is obviously made from turkey meat. It’s a low-fat kind of bacon and can be prepared by smoking or grilling depending on a person’s preference.
Related: Is Turkey Bacon Already Cooked?
There’s also duck bacon which is prepared from duck breasts. They’re less fatty, have unique tastes, and bring out juicy flavors from spices when prepared well.
Salmon can also make great bacon recipes. It’s a good alternative to pork bacon and can be used in sandwiches and bagels.
Seaweeds such as dulse are also used as substitutes for pork bacon as they produce strong bacon flavors when cooked. However, they don’t resemble a standard bacon slice.
Find out what’s the difference between pork belly and bacon!
8. Vegan Bacon
Vegan bacon is technically not possible as bacon itself is meat. But, a bacon-flavored vegan recipe can do for people who are vegetarians or prefer vegan diets. Vegan bacon can be prepared from tofu and soy-based tempeh. It can also be made from white rice paper strips and coconut flakes.
9. Rashers or British Bacon
Rashers are pork cuts extracted from loins. Larger portions of this pork cut are made up of lean meats and fewer fats. It’s a common cuisine in English breakfasts and is mostly served with baked beans, boiled eggs or omelets, grilled mushrooms, and butter toast.
10. Peameal Bacon
Peameal bacon is pork wet-cured in maple brine and rolled in cornmeal thus having a yellow crust on its outer edges. It’s a non-smoked type of bacon cut out from boneless pork loin. It’s a common recipe in Canada, particularly in Southern Ontario in Toronto. This bacon derived the name “peameal” from crushed yellow peas in which it was originally rolled on. It contains more lean meat compared to regular bacon. Follow this simple Canadian Pickled Pork Bacon recipe to prepare it in your home.
Jowls are a kind of pork cut out from the cheek of a pig. Several cultures use this bacon fresh as it is or cures it with salt or smoke before using it in various bacon recipes. Americans often refer to this bacon as jowl bacon or hog jowl when smoked. In Italy, the non-smoked version is referred to as guanciale.
Normally, this section on pork is always forgotten but it can make great bacon recipes. In the United States, jowl bacon is served in breakfast meals while in European countries, it makes up the full English traditional breakfast.
Pancetta is a cured pork belly with Italian food recipes. What makes pancetta unique is that after salt-curing, it’s dried. Most of the time, bacon is smoked after curing. Pancetta can come in various cuts such as fine thin slices and cubes that can be eaten raw. The fine thin slices can also make a great Rolex when wrapped around vegetables and other types of meat, while the cubes can be prepared as a stew served with pasta dishes.
Speck has its origins in Northern Italy, Switzerland, and Austria. It’s a type of pork cut from the leg and has greater muscle mass. It resembles the classic bacon but is elongated and comes in thin narrow slices.
It can be cured by brining, air-drying, and smoking. This makes it suitable for eating even in its raw state. You can accompany it in your sandwich, wrap it around your favorite fruit or mix it with a salad of your choice. It’s also a great ingredient in making antipasti platters.
14. Irish Bacon
Irish bacon is just like Canadian and American back bacon but only differs in its shape. The Irish bacon is circular and has high-fat content that makes it have a savory flavor. The Irish normally don’t cook it to a crisp. They like it soft with a tender texture and always serve it with eggs.
Apart from being a breakfast item, the Irish also include bacon in their lunch menus together with rice or potatoes.
Szalonna is Hungarian-based smoked bacon that has a high-fat content. It’s a common dish in Hungarian cuisines and is always sold smoked and ready for consumption without further cooking. This is not like the American bacon that is sold soft and raw.
Szalonna can be roasted over an open fire pit. Its first cut into long pieces and small cubes of bacon then cooked until it achieves a crispy texture. It is then served alongside other Hungarian dishes or eaten alone. You can try out the Hungarian Style Pork Belly Recipe to have a taste of the Szalonna.
As you can see, bacon is prepared in a variety of ways throughout the world. Many Americans and other nationalities, including Europeans and Asians, like it for breakfast. Most of the time, bacon is categorized based on the type of cut, the portion of the animal from which it was removed, and the various recipes developed by other civilizations. You might try incorporating them into your daily food or go to a restaurant to sample the many kinds of bacon.
Related: How Long Can Cooked Bacon Last?