People love bacon for many reasons, and over the years, there has been a focus on center cut bacon. Before I get into what this is and the differences it has with other kinds of bacon such as the regular cut, I find that I should first give you a brief introduction to bacon cuts.
Types of Bacon
The cut of bacon will depend on which part it originated. You see, even though two pieces of bacon may have undergone similar salting and curing processes, this is not to say that they will turn out the same. You will find that they will differ in their flavors, appearances, and textures and as such, one may prefer one piece over the other.
Also, the cutting of bacon takes place in various ways. While some parts get cut into strips, others get rolled, and people will have a preference for one over another.
If you come across a cut of pork that has first undergone salting before curing, this is the regular bacon. It could also go by the name green bacon, and there are many variations on the same to meet the needs of different consumers. You could have it thin, thick, center-cut, pre-cooked, microwaveable as well as made from different kind of proteins. Moreover, smoking in play also differs such that one cut may have applewood notes while another could have hickory notes.
In the US, most bacon gets consumed in the morning as breakfast, and this accounts for at least seventy percent of the total consumption. You can also find bacon in other meals such as burgers and sandwiches. The difference regarding salt pork, bacon and ham lies in the brining. Bacon has added curing ingredients in the process whereas ham brining involves a substantial amount of sugar. When it comes to salt pork, there is sodium polyphosphate in play to help in improving slicing as well as in reducing the amount of splatter during cooking.
This bacon also goes by the name side bacon, and it is what you will mostly come across in the US. It comes from the pork belly, and you will notice that it is fatty with large pieces of fat adorned with streaks of meat, thus the name.
The Italian version of the same is Pancetta and people can either have it smoked or unsmoked. Other people also refer to this type as American Bacon, owing to its popularity in the country.
When bacon started gaining popularity, people would smoke it over any wood that they would find in their region as a way to preserve it and add flavors to the meat.
Over time, activities in trade shows proved that the type of smoking that bacon underwent influenced its reception on the market. Applewood smoked bacon was seen to be more appealing than bacon smoked on other kinds of wood and it thus grew in popularity.
This cut goes by a myriad of names including Canadian bacon and Irish bacon. It is much thicker than streaky bacon, and it originates from the loin of a pig which is toward the middle back. As such, it gets its name from where it comes. It is quite easy to trim the fat of this bacon, and as such, it has a lean and meaty cut, like what you would see in ham. However, you will find that people retain a layer of fat around the meat as a way to bring out the flavors as well as to enhance them.
What is Center Cut Bacon?
You will notice that there are very many manufacturers at present who are selling center cut bacon. This bacon has at least twenty-five percent less fat than regular bacon when uncooked and is thus an excellent choice for anyone looking to reduce their fat consumption. Center cut bacon comes from the middle part of the pork belly.
As a way to reduce the fat on the meat, manufacturers trim off the fatty ends of the bacon, thus resulting in leaner and much smaller pieces.
This bacon is best for BLTs and topping hamburgers, and an ideal choice in this regard would be the Oscar Mayer Center Cut Bacon which has proven to have less fat.
Center Cut vs Regular Bacon: What is the difference?
Center cut bacon is basically regular bacon without the fatty ends. That is to say, it contains less fat than regular bacon. Buying bacon devoid of fat can be considered as paying more for less as center cut bacon is more expensive than the regular cut. You can get your center cut bacon from regular bacon just by cutting off the fatty ends. The center cut, however, is healthier as it contains about 25% less fat than regular bacon.
As for preference, it is down to a matter of choice. While some people prefer the center cut for less fat, others prefer regular bacon because bacon fat adds flavor to soups and stew when used to saute the onions.
European Style Bacon
European bacon is entirely different from what people serve in America. You see, Americans enjoy their bacon when in fatty, crispy strips lined with meat. However, Europeans love their bacon in round slices which tend to be much thicker and chewier than streaked bacon. It goes by the name rashers.
For an American, this kind of bacon is more of what they would expect of grilled deli meat, and they would not consider it to be bacon. It makes one wonder what could be the cause of this difference and why it proves hard for one to find rashers in retail shops in America.
You might think that the difference in tastes and texture lies in the preparation of the meat, but this is not the case. You see, though American bacon undergoes a smoking process to bring out the flavor and European style does not, this does not affect the taste as both kinds undergo a curing process. The thing with curing is that it is an essential process for bacon to be bacon.
The difference lies in the cut.
American bacon is known to be quite fatty with streaks of meat, and this is because it comes from the pork belly which is one of the fattiest parts of a pig. Rashers come from the loin, and this falls in the middle of a pig’s back. In this area, meat tends to be much leaner. The fascinating thing is that this cut is the same used for loin roast and the variation comes in regarding the slicing and the curing processes that follow.
As a European in search of rashers in the US, you are bound to come across quite some challenges. To start with, you have to understand the laws governing bacon in the country. The US Department of Agriculture clearly states that the term bacon is only applicable in situations where one is referring to the cured belly of a pig’s carcass.
Bacon that gets sourced from other parts of a pig falls in the category of pork shoulder bacon. However, that is not to say that you cannot enjoy rashers in the US. All you need to do is to look for bacon cuts labeled as back bacon, and you will find what you want.
Center Cut Cook
Here is one way in which you can enjoy your center cut bacon:
Maple and coffee glazed bacon
This meal has a total of 15 calories per serving, and it takes twenty-two minutes to prepare. It only requires four ingredients which you probably have in your kitchen. It serves twelve people.
- One tablespoon of maple syrup
- Two tablespoons of dark brown sugar
- 12 slices of center cut bacon
- One jigger espresso
The use of coffee in this recipe falls in line with the fact that coffee has a high affinity for flavorful meats. As such, it pairs great with bacon, making the perfect meal. If you want to enjoy your bacon, the best thing to do is to strike a balance between the salty, sweet, meaty and smoky tastes and this recipe will do precisely that.
You will require a shot of espresso to get the recipe right as opposed to using coffee grounds. The thing with coffee grounds is that though they will add flavor to the bacon, they tend to remain grainy long after cooking has taken place.
They also do not melt as sugar does and they will not dissolve. I tried soaking them overnight to see if they would get dissolved, but that did not work.
On using brewed coffee, I realized that the results were much better and I took pleasure in enjoying the bacon as a result. The best way to make the brew is by using an espresso maker. If you do not have one, you can make a quick stop at a coffee shop for an espresso. You can even buy the coffee the day before as the freshness of the coffee will in no way alter the taste.
Start the preparations by heating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lining it with parchment paper. In a bowl, mix the sugar, maple syrup, and espresso until most of the sugar dissolves. Next, place the bacon across the pan, leaving intervals in between and brush the mix over the pieces.
Let them bake for ten minutes and remove them from the oven. Increase the heat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, dust the other side with the mix and return the pan to the oven for ten minutes. Let the pieces cool before removing and serving them.
Now that you know what center cut bacon is and the benefits it has to offer, you can incorporate it into recipes that call for streaked bacon. Thank you!