Bacon is a cut of meat taken from the sides, belly, or back of a pig, then cured, smoked, or both. Bacon may be eaten fried, baked, or grilled, or used as an ingredient to flavor dishes. The word is derived from the Old High German bacho, meaning "back", "ham", or "bacon".
The in America, USDA defines bacon as "the cured belly of a swine carcass"; other cuts and characteristics must be separately qualified (e.g., "smoked pork loin bacon"). "USDA Certified" bacon means that it has been treated for trichinella.
In continental Europe, bacon is used primarily in cubes (lardons) as a cooking ingredient, valued both as a source of fat and for its flavour. In Italy, bacon is called pancetta and usually cooked in small cubes or served uncooked and thinly sliced as part of an antipasto. Bacon is also used for barding and larding roasts, especially game birds. Many people prefer to have bacon smoked using various types of woods or turf. This process can take up to ten hours depending on the intensity of the flavour desired.
Cuts of bacon
The names of rashers or slices differ depending on where they are cut from:
Bacon joints include the following:
Cuts of pork
Various cuts of pork
The two images above outline the differences between British and the American cuts of pork. Not all cuts are shown, but those that are not should be self-evident.
A pork chop is a chop of pork. A cut of meat cut perpendicularly to the spine of the pig, and usually containing a rib or part of a vertebra and served as an individual portion.
Many cuts of bacon can be used for boiled bacon, gammon is probably the most common.