Friday, June 19, 2015

A bevy of bacons

Oh the deliciousness! Here's a primer on the bacon varieties we distribute in our monthly Meat CSA.

Clockwise from top right: cottage bacon, jowl bacon, belly bacon, sow bacon, bacon ends and pieces and loin bacon.

Ahh good old fashion "belly bacon" or what most Americans would just call "bacon". This ubiquitous bacon comes from the belly of the hog and is ribboned with thick striations of fat that render down and bathe the meat in deliciousness while frying.

Here is another example of belly bacon, this time from a sow (mature female hog). When harvested from an older animal, the bacon is larger (just look at the size of the strips compared to the other belly bacon), contains a higher percentage of fat and has a deeper pork flavor to the meat. In our CSA, we sell this bacon a la carte and call it "cooking bacon". This bacon really shines when cooked in something rather than served alone though it is perfectly serviceable for frying up for breakfast, the fat to meat ratio is just higher than normal belly bacon.

"Jowl bacon" - These short, squat slices are made from the pork cheeks and closely resemble belly bacon.

From the pork butt or shoulder of the hog comes "cottage bacon" or "shoulder bacon" or sometimes "buck board bacon". Cottage bacon is a bit of a mix between belly bacon and ham. It makes a killer BLT!

Next we have "loin bacon" or "back bacon" or sometimes "peameal bacon". More common abroad than here in the US, this bacon is is made from the loin of the hog (where pork chops come from) and is nice and lean.

Finally, we come to the bacon ends and pieces. These delightful bits are what is left over when the cured meat slab gets too small or oddly shaped to make nice slices. In the context of our CSA, most often the bacon ends come from belly bacon but may also come from cottage or loin bacon.

We made bacon from the cheeks, the shoulder, the back and the belly of the hog. What do we call "pork leg bacon"?

 Ham :)

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