Which is better?
The only bacon worth eating is homemade. Period. End of discussion.
Lovers of pork products rejoice! There is now a vending machine from which you can indulge in porcine pleasure until the, er, pigs come home. The bad news? This is only happening in the US... for now. In a pilot programme, the Ohio Pork Council (OPC) has installed the device in the Meat Sciences Department of the Ohio State …
No, the cure doesn't always kill trichinella. But trichinella is far, far less common than salmonella in domestic fowl here in the lower 48, and I see no issues eating raw eggs (salad dressings, ice cream, etc.). There are typically fewer than 25 human cases of trichinosis each year here in the US, and most of those are NOT related to hogs or other domestic critters, but wild game.
Commercial hogs here in the US are particularly safe, so your local meat market's pork bellies are probably OK. Home raised hogs depend on the owner's ability to follow guidelines. If in doubt, cook it. I trust mine. I do NOT usually trust wild boar.
Maryn McKenna writes in Scientific American of April 2012 that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimated in 2011 that the U.S. (population 2011 311.6 million) sees 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths every year from foodborne organisms. The Europen Union (population 2009 502.09 million) had 48,964 cases and 46 deaths in 2009.
The only bacon worth eating is homemade. Period. End of discussion.
Do you mean home-made or home-cooked?
It's a hell of a big job to find somewhere in your house where you can salt and smoke half a pig. I find the locally-cured bacon from our butcher down the road is excellent (and more like a steak than a 'slice'). And nicely grilled at home, in a soft white bap, with <insert sauce of choice>. Yum.
But having said that, a decent freshly-cooked bacon roll from a roadside van (fat trimmed off) is often a delight.
You don't need to turn an entire half a pig into bacon. You can start with little bits of pig. Guanciale comes to mind ... In the Italian tradition it's not normally smoked, but who's quibbling? Pork bellies are easier to find and are a good "learner" bacon.
Rinse & dry the bit of pork to be cured. Put it on a large piece of plastic wrap and add salt, maybe with sugar/honey/maple syrup (to taste). Pepper, juniper, allspice or bay/laural etc. can be added if you like. Then wrap securely in the plastic wrap. I usually wrap it in two more layers. Place in a tray (to capture any leaks) and stash it at the back of the lowest shelf in your fridge. I usually go 10 to 14 days per inch of pork, turning it over once or twice per day. When cured to your taste, smoke on green apple twigs, again to taste.
People have been curing and smoking meat at home for millennia. It's not exactly rocket science.
If you don't have a dedicated smoker, either make one (you tube for instructions?) or purchase one. I use and recommend the Masterbuilt brand electric smokers for small, family sized projects. Can get one large enough to smoke a couple of medium sized pork bellies (or four whole spatchcocked chickens, or one dismembered 28 pound turkey, or ~25 pounds of homemade sausage) for about US$200. Mine is nearly 10 years old, gets used 5 or 7 times per month, and shows no sign of falling apart. It's an investment that keeps on delivering a dividend.
You're kidding, right? My memory of bacon in the US was that there was virtually no meat on it at all - just fat cooked until it rivaled the hardness of my tooth enamel.
Nice dry-cured wood-smoked back bacon is what you really want - you can taste the meat and you don't get that disgusting scum from the injected water or the unpleasant aftertaste of sprayed-on essence of wood smoke (AKA tar).
If you had it from a hotel breakfast buffet, then it was most likely was the precooked stuff heated up in a steam tray which is to good bacon what a can of cooked peas is to the fresh kind. Even many restaurants will just have a tub of thin bacon (profit margins!), burnt to a crisp, sitting off to the side and congealing. It's not hard to find the good stuff; many butcher shops will have meaty, thick cut - or if you're lucky, slab - bacon that they smoke themselves. I've got nothing against back bacon, but it's a shame to see so many people put off by inferior versions of something that can be so good.
It is the "American Beer Syndrome"
Of course there are good beers in the US, but you'd never know it if you only taste the popular brands commonly available.
Same with bacon. You don't need to go full homemade like Jake here (although it does sound cool), but it is necessary to look a bit harder beyond the all-you-can-eat buffet trays to find the good stuff...
... cottage bacon and buckboard bacon. It's basically boneless pork shoulder, dry cured & smoked. It's easy to make at home, bacon cure recipes are available all over TheIntraWebTubes. Cure in a ziplock for a week to ten days in the bottom, back corner of your fridge, turning once or twice per day. No need to be anal about it, I left one batch un-turned for thee weeks, it tuned out fine after I soaked it in water for a day to remove excess salt. Smoke over green apple wood at 200-210F until done to taste, about 140-150F internally, 3-4hours. Slice & prepare as you would any other bacon. This particular cut of cured meat is a really, really good excuse to "need" a slicer!
Dark chocolate dipped streaky bacon is really, really tasty. Just make sure it's good dark chocolate (85% or better) and good bacon, fried crispy but not glass-like ... it need a little chew to it. Sometimes I dust it with a little chipotle powder. Food of the gawd/ess(s)!
Got to agree with jake on this one. My experiments with bacon over the years have produced some remarkable results. Dark chocolate is one of the exceptionally tasty ones.
Another great one is a coating of brown/dememara sugar during the cooking process - cinnamon optional, then allow to cool.
Mmmmm, candied bacon!
Dark chocolate dipped streaky bacon
Not remotely surprising. I remember reading about a delicacy in Georgia (think Tbilisi, not Atlanta) which was cooked pork fat covered in really dark chocolate. First impression was "eww", and after a minute "oooh". Bacon can't be that different.
Also, The Simpsons came up with bacon and fudge, which sounds amazing.
I'm born & raised 'merican, eaten bacon from the U.S. of A. all my life, and truly think bacon is a basic food group. That said, I can NOT believe U.K. bacon could be worse than ours. The pathetically thin, "fatback with a brown stripe painted on it" American product always disappoints. You Brits have to be doing better.
Is more than 1/8" thick, rind on, has adequate fat, not injected with water and/or polyphosphates, and grilled*. My preference is for unsmoked, but others prefer smoked, which is fine.
Bacon that is so thin that it is translucent, pumped full of polyphosphates and water so it dies by drowning in a frying pan is not bacon, but a transparent grab at profits by the manufacturers.
*If frying, I'll agree with a previous poster that the frying pan should not be too hot. You want sufficient fat to render out before the bacon carbonises, then fry the eggs and bread in the rendered fat. A lot of really good bacon won't give enough fat, so you need to add lard.
"[...] then fry the eggs and bread in the rendered fat."
and the sausage, tomatoes, cheese, and mushrooms. With Potteries oatcakes to transport it to your mouth - and dribbling down your chin.***
***You have to be really posh to use a knife and fork to cut the filled oatcake into pieces.
In my view, jowls don't count as bacon either, but I seem to have been outvoted on that.
Pigs jowls might also be known as Bath Chaps, a speciality my father much enjoyed.
What counts as 'bacon' may well be country/culture specific, so I wouldn't say you are wrong, but in my culture bacon made from pigs jowls doesn't exist, but as anything made from a pig is usually tasty, I'd be willing to give it a try.
Christmas is coming - and my annual fry-up. Unfortunately the essential Potteries oatcakes have to come by courier - and they take three consecutive breakfasts to consume the minimum order quantity.
Long gone are my days when the converted front room of a nearby house would be a Sunday morning purveyor of fresh oatcakes. My task was to fetch them - hot from the griddle - and arrive home just as the family's fry up reached the table.
"Don't worry about fat - it's the sugar that's bad for you."
Two doctors did a programme for BBC TV. One concentrated on eating mainly fatty foods - the other sugary foods. This went on for a month - with regular medical tests.
The trial was stopped when one of them started to show pre-diabetic results.
Surprisingly it was the one one eating the fatty food. By the way - the two doctors are identical twins Dr Chris and Dr Xand van Tulleken.
Vimeo has the programme video - on a channel by apparently one of the production team.
Well, I suppose that V1.0 was the pork scratching vending machine and this innovation is indeed a step in the right direction, however, but now its time to upgrade their great concept to something far, far better - the hog roast vending machine.
Imagine that, you see the spit and get the smell for hours before hand, then at the correct time, pure porcine perfection with taste, fat and none of that "garnish" that people insist on putting on the plate.
The second option is an on-demand, just cooked proper bacon and egg roll with thick English bacon, fresh eggs and your choice or soft or crusty roll and brown or tomato sauce, oh and a napkin to catch all that juicy and tasty fat.
These innovations would be an absolute money spinner and both get very close to proving that from a sows ear, you can indeed make something of value, even if its only pork scratchings.
I suddenly feel the need to go for a pint at the local pub for the appropriate accompaniment.
far better - the hog roast vending machine.
No... just no. Best hog roast requires a pit, lots of wood that's now smoldering charcoal, and a whole pig. Oh.. time. Depending on the master cook (I bow at these who know the craft well) it can take up to 24 hours to make pork heaven.
That's what I was trying to picture in a vending machine.
Put another way, the The Hog Roast O'Matic, just with a vending machine function too that dispenses the goodness after its all done.
Clearly I failed in painting the picture, or possibly all your brains decided to picture reference material from real world experience, rather than something promised from a product that doesn't exist yet. As you can probably tell, I don't work in marketing, but can see an engineering opportunity.
I'm unfortunately on the wrong side of the Pond & thus forever doomed to the shite American's call "bacon". Paper thin strips of 90%+ fat/10%- meat-like-substance, injected with water, chemicles, & other things best left unsaid for fear of projectile vomiting. All cooked to the consistency of charcoal briquettes of burnt shoe leather & served in a fashion that only a masochist could love...
I have tasted the ambrosia that is *real* Bacon from an ExPat butcher that prided herself on knowing "how it should be done", and to her I offer my eternal gratitude. They were strips thick enough to look like meat, enough of a meat:fat ratio to be obvious it was an actual MEAT product (as in "from an animal" versus "off a conveyer belt"), & cooked to a juicy, tender, heavenly perfection that made me realize that "Hey, Bacon is Meat. My steak doesn't go crunch, so why should my Bacon? Chefs shouldn't be burning the Bacon!" & thus begin my own personal campaign of anti-burnt-pseudo-Bacon in restaurants & at home.
I know the "Burnt is good!" crowd will probably flame broil & rake me over the coals with the down votes, but I feel I must strip away the crunchy FUD & get to the tender Truth of the matter. =-)p
"My steak doesn't go crunch, so why should my Bacon?"
In my childhood bacon was cooked on a metal plate under a hot gas grill. The rind was quite thick - and would expand and "pop" into a crispy texture. The bacon was also crisp. It was not allowed to burn.
A perfect combination for a sandwich with avocado. Crunchy smoked bacon - creamy avocado - tasty brown bread.
It wasn't until I came to Australia that I found supermarkets selling middle bacon, with both the meaty bit and the streaky bit all in one convenient package.
The only downside is that you're required to inform your health insurer when you buy it.
Edit: Oh my, I've just discovered the bacon wiki: http://bacon.wikia.com
Having given up technology and downed tools, like much everyone else. I'm only now comforted on a daily basis, by my pork scratching advent calendar. Fire, the wheel, sliced bread and now the pinnacle. I have a theory, evolution will start to reverse. #stopyouvemissedaclause
So-called "Canadian" bacon is an artifact of American marketing and has absolutely zero to do with our Kanukistan cousins. It is basically pork tenderloin that is salt-cured, very lightly smoked (sometimes to the point of being unnoticeable), and fully cooked. It is essentially deli (sandwich) meat, but some people like to turn it into leather by cooking it on pizza.
I thought you guys in the UK had to import your bacon from Denmark! I remember buying some Danish bacon that was available in Canada, and found it just as good or maybe even slightly better than our own product, so if UK bacon is as good as that, it probably stacks up to American bacon as well.
We like bacon so much that apparently we've run out of room for pigs. So we've bought a lot of it from Denmark for years now.
Food markets are weird. For example the UK exports a lot of lamb to the rest of Europe and then imports loads from New Zealand to eat ourselves. Seems rather strange that we don't eat our own and let the Kiwi stuff go off to Europe - and save a bit of transport costs.
Same with fish. Catches in UK waters are mostly mackerel and sardines which are not that popular in the UK, so we export ~90% (mostly to the EU) and import the white fish which most people seem to prefer - e.g. our local chippy, in a piss-take of "artisan" food shops, have put up a board telling you exactly which Norweigian trawler caught the fish you've just ordered.
I used to be a big (English) Bacon Eater, but now I am not allowed. :-(
Unfortunately, the Purines contained in pork and some other meat products activate my Gout, so they are barred from my diet.
Honestly, I could kill for a bacon sandwich right now, but tomorrow my hands would have seized up and my feet would be swollen and sore. BAH!
Allopurinol helps somewhat, but best to avoid.
...oh, sorry, this is not about a hot dog. Horrible thing, that. They are at most only 25pct dog!
Bacon! The fifth food group. Oh, how I love it, but can no longer indulge as much. Good substitute: get yourself some decent local turkey ... slicr think and soak in a lime / pepper solution, then smoke along with some jalapeno peppers. Serve on a skewer with some fresh bell pepper slices and said jalapeno.
Pro tip: do not smoke Carolina Reapers in such a way that the smoke can enter your house. No particular reason for this tip, just sayin'
Seems to me the people complaining about American bacon - as if that was a singular thing...are missing something important.
Just like chinesium you get cheap from "bigvendor" yeah, the stuff you just buy precooked somewhere is going to be terrible - just like every other thing they offer. This is news?
If you do your own shopping and preparing, you can get heavenly bacon in the US, I do all the time.\
But then if I go to a modern supermarket (vs the small town market I usually use) - I've noticed that if microwave ovens and/or freezers were to quit working, most of America would starve or die of a soda pop/potato chip overdose, since it seems no one knows how to cook anymore....
Cities. ugh, all this crap is in cities where people think they are civilized but long ago lost anything but the advertising to those of us in more "salt of the earth" locations. There is only one fast-food outlet in the entire county I live in - and no one goes there.
I'd bet the US isn't alone there...it may be ahead, but it's a matter of degree.
There are plenty of specialty outfits in the US that sell the best bacon on earth, or so I'm convinced - if there's any better I wouldn't be able to tell and would be confused about whether I'd died and gone to heaven.
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