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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bacon is defined as any of certain cuts of meat taken from the sides, belly or back of a pig that may be cured and/or smoked. Meat from other animals may also be cured or otherwise prepared to resemble bacon, such as chicken or turkey bacon. In continental Europe, it is used primarily in cubes (lardons) as a cooking ingredient valued both as a source of fat and for its flavour. In Italy, besides being used in cooking, bacon (pancetta) is also served uncooked and thinly sliced as part of an antipasto. Bacon is also used for barding and larding roasts, especially game birds. Many people prefer to have their bacon smoked by using various types of woods. This process can take up to ten hours depending on the intensity of the flavour desired. Bacon may be eaten fried, baked, or grilled. It is commonly used in sandwiches.
A side of unsliced bacon is a flitch or slab bacon, while an individual slice of bacon is a rasher (United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Australia and New Zealand) or simply a slice or strip (North America). Slices of bacon are also known as collops. Traditionally, the skin is left on the cut and is known as bacon rind. Rindless bacon, however, is quite common. In the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, bacon comes in a wide variety of cuts and flavours whereas bacon in the United States is predominantly what is known as "streaky bacon", or "streaky rashers" in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. Bacon made from the meat on the back of the pig is referred to as back bacon and is part of traditional British and Irish breakfasts. In North America, back bacon may also be referred to as Canadian-style Bacon or Canadian Bacon. "USDA Certified" bacon means that it has been treated for trichinella.

Bacon Cuts of bacon
Back bacon is a lean meaty cut of bacon.
Canadian bacon is a term used in the United States but elsewhere it is simply back bacon. It refers to any lean meaty cut of bacon, and is sometimes used as a pizza topping. In Canada back bacon is sometimes known as peameal bacon, which refers to a specific variety of unsmoked lean bacon that has been sweet pickle-cured and coated in yellow cornmeal (originally, as the name suggests, peameal was used). Other proteins, such as turkey and beef, can be made in the style of peameal bacon by employing this same sweet pickle and cornmeal process.
Often times in the US, products sold as "canadian bacon" are actually nothing more than pieces ham cut into circles and is not the true peameal bacon popular in Canada. Such "canadian bacon" is a popular ingredient in fast-food breakfast sandwiches, including the Egg McMuffin.

Back bacon or Canadian bacon
In recent years in North America, pre-cooked bacon, which can be eaten out of the package or quickly reheated, has become a popular alternative to traditional bacon. Pre-cooked bacon, by USDA definition, is bacon which has been cooked to a finished yield of 40% or less. In other words, if 1 pound of raw bacon is cooked to 0.4 pounds or less, then it may be labeled as fully cooked bacon. Most pre-cooked bacon is considered shelf stable (may be stored safely at room temperature) because it is vacuum-sealed, has a high brine concentration, and the water activity is low enough to prevent the outgrowth of pathogenic organisms.

Precooked bacon
It is a custom in areas of Eastern Europe such as Hungary and Slovakia to roast bacon over a rotisserie grill, the dripping fat being put onto a slice of ham with radish, green pepper, and Paprika. Other ingredients may also be used. Later innovations include the use of a bread toasting pan used in camping to catch the drippings. At campfires, Hungarians typically roast bacon on a stick, catching the drippings on a slice of bread, and wash it down with a drink of Palinka, the local brandy. In Hungary, bacon is also traditionally consumed as part of a cold meal, such as breakfast or supper, cut into small, bite-size slices, and eaten with white bread, yellow wax-peppers, and tomatoes.

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