Bacon is the cured loin, most often from the sides and back of the pig, which has been salted, either using dry salt or brine, dried, steamed and smoked. Some bacons, eg pancetta, are made from the belly of the animal. such as honey, sugar, or fruits may be added, in which case the result will be referred to as 'sugar-cured', honey cured' etc.

Bacon derives from the old French word ‘bakko’, meaning ham. Ham is the thigh, which is removed and cured separately.

In England bacon which is cured but not smoked is called 'green', 'fresh', 'white' or 'plain'. It has a white instead of a brown rind and a milder flavour than smoked bacon. The choicest rashers for grilling or frying are those from the back - 'prime', 'long' and 'top back'. Streaky bacon comes in both 'wide' and 'thin' rashers. Collar is more suitable for using in pies and stews. 'Oyster' and 'flank' rashers are fatty, but useful for larding poultry. Gammon rashers and steaks are more substantial than rashers. In France a side of bacon from which slices are cut in a shop is called poitrine fumée. Bacon is also known as porc salé et fumé or lard. In France, streaky bacon is called petit lard or large maigre, and fat bacon is gros lard or lard maigre. In the United States bacon is classified as lean, leanest and prime. Canadian bacon is not imported from Canada but refers to boned loin of pork which has been sugar-cured and then smoked.

Tip: If cooking rashers of bacon, heat the pan or griddle before adding the rashers and cook them slowly, or they will become hard rather than crisp.

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