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.
Consumer usage of rashers has changed substantially over the last few years. They are no longer just used as part of the traditional fry or grill, but are part of the snacking culture in BLTs, an ingredient in pizzas, omelettes, salads, and pasta dishes.
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.
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)
Bacon can be fried, dry fried or grilled.
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.
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.
WHY DOESN’T BACON BECOME CRISPY WHEN I FRY IT?:
This is normally because the frying temperature is too low. “Discount quality” bacon typically contains a greater quantity of water than the standard or premium ranges, which must be cooked away first. Only then will the bacon become crispy.
The problem can be solved by adding a few drops of oil to the pan. This will increase the frying temperature and make the bacon crispy more quickly.
WHY DO BACON RASHERS STICK TOGETHER:
This is due to the fact that the bacon is vacuumed packed to remove all the air from the pack. Open the pack and allow the bacon to rest in the pack for 10 minutes before use.
WHY IS BACON VACUUM PACKED?:
This is to give the product a longer storage date. Vacuum packing also makes the packaging smaller and easier to transport.
CAN BACON BE FRIED IN ADVANCE?:
Can I fry large quantities of bacon in advance and fry them again to make them crisp just before serving?
Yes, you can do this in a frying pan or in the oven under the grill, but the frying pan/oven must be extra hot.
WHY CANT I GET MY BACON TO BE CRISPY?:
Modern Day EU & Irish bacon is traditionally cured with less salt content , cut from the loin which doesn’t contain much fat and, therefore, is less easy to crisp. Nevertheless, Irish bacon still has that distincitive well-known bacon taste. Irish consumers usually prefer their bacon soft rather than crispy. If you want crispy bacon, you should buy “streaky” bacon. In Ireland and the UK Back” bacon outsells “Streaky” bacon 10 to 1!
WHAT CAN I DO TO RETAIN THE CRISPINESS?:
The harder you fry the bacon the longer it will stay crisp. Otherwise, there’s not much you can do. It’s best to eat bacon while it’s hot or warm.
CAN I USE PRE-COOKED BACON IN HOT DISHES, E.G. ON A PIZZA OR IN A CASSEROLE?
Pre-cooked bacon is ideal for cold food or in a baguette, in a salad or as a snack. But re-heating bacon is not recommended as it will lose some of its crispiness.