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A Bacon Lovers Guide to Bacon


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A Bacon Lovers Guide to Bacon

  2. 2. Food is about emotional reactions. Certain smells remind of us of our childhoods, certain tastes bring us back ‘home’, and foods become our salvation in times when we need comfort. There is no food that contributes to our emotions quite like bacon does. Traditionally, a ‘cheap cut’ reserved for peasants and the poor, bacon has evolved into focus of a huge cult-like following. Nowadays, you can see countless products inspired by the cured pig belly. There is bacon candy, bacon cupcakes, bacon design bandages, and countless bacon internet memes. Why is it that bacon has become such a fanatical food, inspiring both extreme love, and hate alike? We’re convinced that if you hate bacon, you probably also hate babies, ponies, love, and life itself! How did bacon become such a big thing, and where did it even come from anyway? In the following pages, we’ll answer many questions and provide interesting facts on bacon, along with some really awesome recipes and food porn…. Because that’s exactly what bacon is – porn for your taste buds. Let’s start at the beginning.
  3. 3. To start, let’s get out of the way, the question, “What is qualified as bacon?” ba•con [bey-kuh n] 1. The back and sides of the hog, salted and dried or smoked, usually sliced thin. 2. Pork, cured in brine. There are reports that suggest bacon being around as far back as 1500 years ago in China, but as far as we can actually trace back through documented recipes, bacon was known to exist in ancient Roman times, then called petaso. In modern times, we’re pretty spoiled with our advanced technology, but back then there was no refrigeration to preserve food. So, the techniques of curing and pickling developed in order to keep food for longer periods of time. Pigs were relatively easy to domesticate, and petaso was a common dish in Roman times, although it was quite different than how we know bacon today. Petaso was most likely boiled with figs, and then browned. Pigs with figs! During the middle ages and beginning of the Renaissance era, cured pig belly was cheap and accessible to the peasant classes, so bacon was very common among the masses of people in countries like France, Italy, and England, among many other European nations. In 1770’s England, the industrialization of bacon begins as John Harris of Wiltshire, England opens the first business focusing on the sale of bacon. To this day, Wiltshire is still considered by many, as the capital of bacon. The British version of bacon is different than the more popular American bacon, but we’ll get into that more, later. In 1875, British immigrant, William Davies gives birth to “Canadian bacon”, as he begins to sell salt-cured peameal in the legendary St. Lawrence Market in Toronto (our home town). Toronto was long-called “Hogtown”, due to other cities seeing Toronto as being full of greedy people, but in 1898, Davies helped solidify this moniker, as The William Davies Company became the largest pork processor in the entire British Empire (which, at the time included parts of Canada, The Caribbean, South America, India, Africa, Australia, among others). During the turn of the 20th century, the Mayer brothers, German immigrants had created and grown a successful meat company, lead by Oscar Mayer, and serving the German population of Chicago, began participating in the famed Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. At the dawn of the roaring 20’s, the Mayer Food Company (today, owned by Kraft) re-established itself in Madison, Wisconsin, and in 1924, Oscar Mayer released the first pre-packaged and pre-sliced bacon product to the American public. TheStoryofBacon
  4. 4. During the 1980’s, a fitness craze, lead by characters such as Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons, swept across the US, while bacon (and any fat) was completely demonized. They were wrong of course, because we all know bacon is magnificent! Between 2001 and 2009, the use of bacon in food services, including purchase for home use, grew about 25%. In 2008, we were immersed in a recession that made many of us shy of spending, and top chefs began experimenting more with cheaper products. With the development of many amazing new dishes that incorporated the salty meat, bacon’s cult status began to take hold. Since 2011, bacon’s usage growth has been consistently increasing by 2.4%. 2011 2009 2001 Ancient Roman Ancient Germanic Old English Later Germanic Frankish French, taken from the Frank- ish term “Petaso” “Bak” “Back” “Bakkon” “Bako” “Bacon” Evolutionoftheterm"Bacon
  5. 5. There are several different types of ‘bacon’ out there on the market, but when it comes down to it, there’s really only 3 main types of real bacon. According to the definition of what it is, bacon should be: 1. Made from the belly (side) or back (loin) of a pig. 2. Cured – either by wet cure method, or dry cure method. 3. It’s optional if it’s smoked or not. Let’s begin with the most loved version. American American bacon, which is also known as ‘streaky bacon’ by the British, is the most well-known version, and arguably, the most loved. It’s made from the belly cut (which is technically from the side, not the actual belly). American bacon has a fatty, salty and somewhat umami flavor to it that just can’t be replicated by any other product out there. This type of bacon can, and is used to make numerous other products and dishes better. British First off, ‘Britain’ or ‘The UK’ covers England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Now that we got that terminology out of the way… British bacon is made primarily from the loin of the pig, which is located in the middle closer to the back of the pig. The loin is much leaner, but the British version (unlike the Canadian, which we’ll see next), has much of the back fat still attached to it. To keep some additional flavor in there, the British bacon cut also has a portion of the belly still attached to the loin, so in a way, it gets the best of both worlds. The Brits call pieces of bacon “rashers” (but only if it’s the loin cut… the American belly bacon is just called “streaky” in the UK). Canadian In the US, it’s called “Canadian bacon”, in the UK it’s called “back bacon”, and we Canadians just call it “peameal”. This name is due to the yellow colored meal made from dried and ground yellow peas that coats the outside of the loin. This practice was developed in Toronto, Canada, and was originally started for preservative reasons. Unlike the British version, which remains relatively fatty, peameal bacon is trimmed of most of the fat, with only a very thin layer remaining. What About the Others? So, this is where it gets tricky. There are many other ‘alternative’ bacons out there, such as turkey bacon, chicken bacon, vegetarian bacon, etc. We’re sorry to say that technically, these varieties are not considered bacon. Actually, they aren’t even close. However, let’s not kick them out of bed just yet. These products are made using a bacon-style TheBaconfamily
  6. 6. method of production, so I guess there’s room to let them in... and for those people out there with dietary or religious restrictions, then these alternatives are good options. The other products to consider are the Italian cured meats. Probably the most famous, prosciutto is cured and aged. Does this make it bacon? No. Prosciutto is amazing, and any true bacon lover should appreciate good prosciutto (jamon Iberico, anyone?) but there are a couple differences. Prosciutto is made from the ham cut (which is from the upper back leg/bum). The other difference is that hams are cured in a slightly different type of brine than bacon. We know, this is being ultra picky, but rules are rules! Pancetta, on the other hand… this can be considered bacon. Pancetta is made from the belly cut, and is dry salt cured, then hung and aged for about 3 months. It’s also often used in Italian cooking, much the same as we would use bacon (streaky) in French or North American cooking. So, pancetta IS bacon. It just speaks a different language. Green Bacon This is bacon that’s cured, but not smoked. There is also bacon that is smoked but not cured (technically that’s not even bacon!). Nitrate-Free Bacon The majority of bacon is cured using sodium nitrate from pink curing salt. Nitrate-free bacon is cured without curing salts, and often is cured using the aid of celery and cabbage, which produce nitrates naturally. Wet-Cured Bacon This bacon is cured in a brine before smoking. Dry-Cured Bacon This is cured using a dry rub salt mixture (much like the recipe in here).
  7. 7. Just a small disclaimer before we go too deep into this—anything in excess can be bad for you, but bacon has definitely been falsely demonized by many in the health realm. This is mostly due to the misinformed thinking that fats make you fat (which, we should all know by now, is wrong). Here’s a general nutritional breakdown of bacon (obviously, amounts could differ depending on how the pig was raised). Fats in Bacon 50% monounsaturated 40% saturated 10% polyunsaturated The monounsaturated fats that make up the majority of fats in bacon, are in large partially made up from oleic acid, which is highly touted as ‘heart healthy’. This is one reason why olive oil has earned its healthy reputation. Saturated fats are definitely the most misunderstood of all fats. In moderate amounts, they won’t kill you. In fact, you actually need saturated fats in your body to live optimally. The polyunsaturated fats are made up mostly from Omega 6 fats. This is the bad fat in bacon, BUT only because we already have so much of it in our diets from other sources... Now, let’s take a look at some positive nutritional benefits If we’re working with a 100g portion (just because that’s an easy number to work with), here’s some positive nutritional facts that bacon offers: «« 37 grams of protein «« Selenium (89% of recommended daily amount) «« Phosphorus (53% of RDA) «« Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12 «« Iron «« Magnesium «« Zinc «« Potassium One other really interesting nutritional fact, is that bacon contains high amounts of choline. In studies, this nutrient has been shown to increase the intelligence levels in humans, IF they receive high levels of it (through the mother) BEFORE they are born. Now, we’re not saying that pregnant women should go out there and eat 5 lbs of bacon every day, but choline can also be found in other foods such as eggs, liver, milk, chicken, and some nuts. "Idon'teatBacon,i'mahealthyeater"
  8. 8. All that being said, bacon is actually pretty nutritious! Great news for bacon lovers! Of course, just like all foods, the source matters. You will get a lot more of the positive benefits of bacon when it’s sourced from a natural farmer. ALL bacon is processed to some extent, but natural farming produces a much happier pig, and much healthier and yummier bacon! The best bacon we’ve had to date, is from the pigs at Sideroad Natural Farm, here in Ontario, Canada. Their bacon is just pure awesomeness. ‘Nuff said. If you want to try some, you’ll have to come visit!. Wait, But Aren’t Nitrates The Work of the Devil? Nitrates get talked about in healthy eating circles, as if they are artificially created in a lab by an evil genius, that only exists in bacon, making it super unhealthy. The fact is, nitrates are naturally occurring. The nitrates in bacon come through the curing process, which uses pink curing salt (only a relatively small amount compared to the other ingredients used). You can actually find nitrates in vegetables and even in your own saliva, which means they are a natural part of our bodies. The potential downside to nitrates is that they can form nitrosamines when cooked with high heat, which is carcinogenic. Nitrates have long been linked to contributing to cancer, however, the amount of possible negative effects that we can get from the nitrates in bacon is so minimal that we probably don’t have much to worry about. 23 4 55 6 6 8 9 10 11 12 7 TENDERLOIN CENTER LOIN BACON BUTT EARS CHEEKS HOCK SHOULDERBELLY BACON HOCK SPARE RIBS HAM RUMP RIBS x
  9. 9. All That Is Awesome, But Let’s Get To The Recipes Already! “When in doubt, just add more bacon” Here are some awesome recipes that use our favorite ingredient as the star – BACON! You can follow the recipes, but always use your judgment, and cook by taste. Recipes are more guidelines, than formulas. When in doubt, just add more bacon, because bacon makes everything taste better! braisedpork bellywith baconcabbage baconcheddar pancakeswith maplesauce Baconfried rice MakeYour OwnBacon
  10. 10. Getting bacon directly from farmers that raise naturally grown pigs is absolutely amazing. The only thing better is making your own. Of course, we recommend sourcing your pork belly from naturally raised pigs, whether that be directly from the farmer, or from a good butcher shop. You may have to experiment with this one a little bit, but try it out, once you get it to your liking, you’ll never go back! Ingredients 5 lb piece Pork belly 1 cup Kosher salt ½ cup Brown sugar (use Demerara sugar for a little deeper flavour) 2 tbsp Black Pepper 1 tsp Oregano 2 tbsp Smoke paprika 3-4 Crushed bay leaves 1 tbsp Pink curing salt (optional) "MakeyourownBacon Most bacons use the pink curing salt, which does contain nitrates. Some people prefer to leave this out, which is totally fine, but just realize that your bacon will not quite cure in the same way, and won’t have the distinctive coloring of cooked bacon that we’re used to. It will be more grey-ish.
  11. 11. Intructions 1. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. 2. Put pork belly on a large baking sheet, or surface that is easy to cleanup. 3. Cover pork belly entirely with the salt mixture, making sure to get both sides. 4. Massage in the salt mixture for a few minutes, all over, to ensure that it really gets into the pork. 5. Lightly shake off belly, and discard any salt mixture that doesn’t stick to it. 6. Put pork belly into a large ziplock bag, squeeze air out and seal. 7. Keep belly in the fridge for about 7 days…. Flip it and massage it daily. Liquid will come out of it into the bag, but just leave it 8. After 7 days, take belly out of bag, discard liquid, and thoroughly rinse off salt mixture with cold water. 9. At this point, you can choose to either smoke the bacon, or not. Most bacon is lightly smoked, but is not absolutely necessary. The bacon will keep in the fridge for about a week, in a sealed bag or container, or in the freezer for about a month. Enjoy! "MakeyourownBacon
  12. 12. This is the absolutely perfect quick meal when you are tired or lazy, but hungry after a long day. This meal is a go-to when you just don’t feel like doing too much... plus, the bacon in it satisfies the need for comfort food when you’re feeling burned out. This one is super simple and quick. The trick is using day old rice, because it’s better for frying than fresh rice (which sticks too much). Ingredients Day old sticky rice, as much as you need for your liking 4-5 Slices of bacon (or as much as you’d like!) 1 Chopped onion 2 Scallions (green parts only) "BaconFriedRice Try eating this with ketchup on it. The sweetness from the ketchup goes perfectly to cut into the yummy salt and fat from the bacon, but that’s totally optional.
  13. 13. Intructions 1. Chop the bacon into lardon (the French term for small strips… chop it up) 2. Cook the bacon in a pan on medium heat, don’t push it too fast, or it will burn. 3. While the bacon is cooking, chop up an onion, then add to pan once bacon is almost done. Turn the heat to medium-low, and sweat down until soft. 4. Add in the rice, mix it up, and cook on low, just to heat up the rice. 5. Finish by mixing in chopped up scallions. "BaconFriedRice
  14. 14. This recipe was inspired by a famous restaurant in Montreal, QC (one of Anthony Bourdain’s favorites). You could serve up this dish topped with a piece of pan-seared foie gras which would make it the most amazing thing you’ve ever put in your mouth (insert jokes here). The balance of fatty, salty, sweet, and savory is the perfect combination, and oh so rich. The recipe as listed here, is a really great Sunday brunch item to impress people, and your taste buds (we left the foie gras out because it’s a bit more involved)! Ingredients 1 cup Flour (gluten-free or you can use regular if you prefer) ½ cup Scottish oats 2 tbsp Ground flax seed 1 tbsp Baking powder 1 tsp Baking soda pinch Salt 1 Egg - beaten ½ cup Milk Bacon (depending on how many you’re making) Old white cheddar cheese (please don’t used processed cheese slices!) Maple Syrup BaconCheddarPancakeswithmapleSauce
  15. 15. Intructions 1. First, make the pancakes – mix all ingredients together in a bowl… adjust the amount of milk to make a good consistency with the batter. You want it to be a little bit runny, but not too liquidy, or it won’t hold its shape in the pan. 2. Let the mixture rest for a little bit. Ideally, 1 hr is perfect, but you can get away with the quick version and sit for only 15 minutes if you’re in a hurry. Resting the batter will allow it to incorporate and rise. 3. Cook pancakes in a pan, on medium heat so they don’t burn. The size depends on how big you want them. We like them about 3-4 inches in diameter circles. Keep cooked pancakes aside. 4. Now, cook strips of bacon… as many as you’d like depending on how bacon crazed you are! Cut the cooked strips to fit the size of the pancakes, and lay down a layer. Usually only one layer per pancake is good. 5. Next, cut the old white cheddar into slices, enough to layer on top of the bacon. About 3 mm in thickness is perfect, because if you cut it too thick, it will take too long to melt, and overcook the rest of the ingredients. 6. After you’ve layered the pancakes, bacon, and cheddar, put them on a baking sheet on tin foil (easier cleanup), and stick it in the oven at 350˚C, just until the cheese is mostly melted. 7. Now, comes the best part… pour maple syrup on top of the entire concoction. Eat, and enjoy the flavor explosion that you are about to experience! BaconCheddarPancakeswithmapleSauce
  16. 16. This dish is inspired by the Alsacian region in eastern France, on the border with Germany. In Alsace, they typically used a lot of choucroute (sauerkraut), but for this one, we use fresh green cabbage. It’s the addition of bacon that makes the cabbage awesome, and topped with pork belly, you’re essentially getting a double dose! Ingredients 1 piece Pork belly, skin removed ½ bottle White wine Chicken stock - enough to cover meat 4 slices Bacon (2 slices for the pork belly braise, 2 slices for the cabbage) 3-4 sprigs Thyme 3 Bay leaves 2-3 sprigs Rosemary Small handful Parsley ½ Onion 3 cloves Garlic ½ Green cabbage ½ stick Butter BraisedPorkbellywithBaconcabbage It’s best to use a dutch oven for this, or at least a medium deep pot!
  17. 17. Intructions 1. Cut pork belly into large chunks, or what you would use for individual portions. In some olive oil, on medium high heat, sear the pieces of belly until browned. Make sure to season with salt & pepper beforehand! Place aside. 2. Sweat chopped onion, garlic and bacon in a little olive oil until soft. 3. Add pork belly pieces back to the pot, and add in the white wine. Turn the heat up to high, and let it simmer for about a minute. Then add in enough stock to just cover the meat. 4. Bring pot to a boil, then place in oven at 350˚, for about 3 hours (check at 2 hours, to make sure the liquid level hasn’t dropped too much). 5. In the meantime, make the cabbage. Finely slice or shred the cabbage. 6. Dice about ½ an onion, and cut 2 bacon slices into lardon (small pieces). Cook the bacon and onion on medium low heat. 7. Add in the butter, let it melt a little, then add in the cabbage, and stir to completely coat all the cabbage in the butter. Keep heat on medium low. 8. Add in a splash of vinegar (white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar). 9. Allow to simmer on low, to soften cabbage, season with salt & pepper. 10. Optional: if you have it, finish with a little truffle oil. BraisedPorkbellywithBaconcabbage
  18. 18. Other Awesome Uses For Bacon Bacon adds a great ‘umami’ flavoring to pretty much anything. Here’s a few awesome ways you can use it to enhance potentially boring dishes. Add bacon to pastas to deepen the flavor, and complement any sauces or cheese you use. Add bacon to vegetables when sautéing them. It will add another element to make even the most boring veggies yummy. Works best with kale, spinach, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, chard. Make bacon onion jam for a truly awesome condiment that you can use on burgers, or just on toasts! Bacon and maple, and bacon and cheese are the most awesome pairings possibly known to man. Crisp bacon strips added to a salad can really liven it up, and even make carnivores loves salads.
  19. 19. When it comes to data recovery, Asigra knows a thing or two about saving your bacon Asigra has been in the cloud backup, recovery and restore market since 1986 and has introduced many industry firsts. Today Asigra continues that tradition by introducing a new pricing model to the backup and recovery market called the Asigra Recovery License Model®. Our flagship product, Asigra Cloud Backup™ is an enterprise-class software solution that provides a single, integrated approach to data protection. Designed for efficient performance and compatibility with public, private and hybrid cloud architectures, the Asigra Cloud Backup solution is equipped with: «« Agentless software architecture for easier deployment and management «« Global de-duplication and data compression technology «« NIST FIPS 140-2 certified security, including AES 256 encryption «« Autonomic healing and validation restore capabilities As an integrated solution, Asigra Cloud Backup performs fast, efficient and secure backups of all types and locations of data, including: «« Physical and virtual environments «« Enterprise servers, databases and applications «« Endpoint devices including desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones «« Data in cloud-based applications To learn more about Asigra visit us online: or follow us on Twitter: @asigra © 2014 Asigra Inc. Asigra, the Asigra logo, Asigra Cloud Backup, Recovery is Everything® , Recovery License Model and Recovery Tracker are registered trademarks of Asigra Inc. All other brand and product names are trademarks of their respective owners. [03/14] Feel free to share this guide with all of your bacon loving friends! We hope you enjoyed this guide as much as you enjoy bacon. Try the recipes and let us know what you think (@Asigra). Special thanks to Chef Aaron Okada of Roehampton Kitchen for providing these great recipes and ideas.