Food, Food Artisans

How to Talk About Bacon

Zingerman’s 5th Annual Camp Bacon gets underway in just a few short weeks. To help you prepare for our annual celebration of all things pork, we’re posting excerpts from the Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon. 

pig-chart-italianaBacon Glossary

Here are the terms you need to talk bacon with the pros!

Bacon: Over here in the U.S., cured and usually, though not always, smoked pork belly.

British Bacon: Today, this generally refers to the back and not the belly, cured in a brine solution but not smoked.

Canadian Peameal Bacon: Pork loin cured in a wet brine solution and then rolled in cornmeal. The real thing is sold raw and never smoked.

Dry Cure (a.k.a. Country Cure): Raw pork rubbed and then set into a dry solution of salt, sugar and spices (instead of a brine) to cure the pork before it’s smoked.

Fatback: The strip of fat from the top of the hog’s back, above the loin. Used extensively in old-style American cooking, it really has no meat on it whatsoever. In the South you’ll still see places selling fried fatback. Typically used to make lard and cracklins.

Flitch: The old English word for a side of bacon.

Green: The British term for cured but unsmoked bacon.

Guanciale: Italian-style pork jowl, dry-cured and unsmoked.

Irish Bacon: Same as British bacon, but often used for boiling.

Lardo: Italian-style pork back fat, dry-cured in slabs for months. Sliced and eaten raw.

Long Back or Long Middle: Used in England to describe bacon sold as loin with belly still attached.

Pancetta: Dry-cured but unsmoked Italian-style bacon made from pork belly.

Rashers: Slices of bacon, to a Brit.

Streak o’ Lean: Like fatback, but with (at most) a small strip of meat in it. Michael Stern, writing in Roadfood, says, “streak o’ lean provides maximum piggy flavor. If you never can get enough bacon, it’s the breakfast meat for you.” Sometimes smoked, sometimes not. Also like fatback, streak o’ lean can be floured and deep-fried to make a crisp little bacony snack.

Streaky Bacon: What British people ask for when they want American-style belly bacon.

Wet Cure: Bacon that spends a good bit of time in a saltwater brine, most often, though not always, with sugar and spices.

Wide: The wide side of the pork loin as it’s used for bacon—it’s from further up the top loin, toward the shoulder.

We’ll see you at  Camp Bacon 2014!