Bacon is cured (preserved) fresh pork. Cuts of bacon come from the middle and forequarters of the pig, differing from gammon which is the hind leg. Bacon is a very versatile meat – it only takes a few minutes to cook and can add a wonderful flavour to a variety of dishes. Streaky bacon has a higher fat content than back bacon.
Uses: From a simple bacon sandwich or crispy fried bacon served with eggs to pasta dishes, stir-fries, soups, omelettes, salads and quiches - even just a little bacon can add a distinctive flavour to a wide range of dishes. If you want to add bacon pieces to a recipe it's easier to cook the bacon first, allow it to cool a little and then snip into pieces using kitchen scissors.
To store: Bacon should be stored in the fridge in the packet or, once opened, in a covered container at the bottom of the fridge. If bought freshly sliced from the meat counter it should be used within 2 days of purchase, if bought pre-packed it should be used within 2 days of opening, but may be kept for up to 1 month unopened (check the use by date).
To cook: Bacon can be fried, dry fried or grilled. To fry, heat 1 tbsp of oil in a frying pan until hot, add the bacon and cook streaky or back rashers for 1–2 minutes on each side and steaks for 3–4 minutes on each side. Dry frying is a healthier method of frying where only the melted fat from the meat is used. Place streaky or back rashers in a cold non-stick frying pan and cook over a low heat to start with, once some fat starts to run out, increase the heat and cook for 1–2 minutes on each side.
For either method of frying the bacon can be drained on kitchen paper before serving to remove any excess fat. To grill bacon, first preheat the grill to high, place the rashers on the grill pan and cook back or streaky rashers for 2–3 minutes on each side, depending on how crispy you like them. Grill steaks for 3–4 minutes. Grilling is a much healthier method of cooking than frying and if you prefer crispy bacon you will get a better result.There are a wide variety of types of bacon available:
To produce this type of bacon, pork joints are hung in a chamber over beds of smoking wood chips. Depending on which type of wood is used, different flavours can be imparted to the bacon. A variety of smoked bacon is sold in Waitrose. Smoked British bacon is available as thick cut rindless back rashers in packs of 6 rashers or rindless back rashers in packs of 8. Smoked British rindless streaky rashers are also available in packs of 12.
As well as British bacon a small selection of Danish is available, including smoked prime loin steaks (4 steaks per pack) which are the eye of the loin and ideal for frying or grilling and serving with fried eggs for a really tasty meal. For a traditional variety choose thin back rashers which are available in packs of 10.
Also known as green, pale or plain bacon unsmoked bacon has a wonderful classic flavour – choose from rindless streaky rashers (in packs of 12), thick cut rindless back rashers (in packs of 6) or rindless back rashers (in packs of 8). For a sweeter-tasting rasher go for sweetcure back rashers which have had sugar added to the curing brine or maplecure back bacon (both in packs of 8).