Bacon is a cut of meat taken from the sides, belly, or back of a pig that has been cured, smoked, or both. Meat from other animals, such as beef, lamb, chicken, whale, goat or turkey, may also be cut, cured, or otherwise prepared to resemble bacon. Bacon may be eaten fried, baked, or grilled, or used as a minor ingredient to flavor dishes. The word is derived from the Old High German bacho, meaning "back", "ham", or "bacon".
The 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.
In the U.S. and Europe, bacon is often used as a condiment or topping on other foods. Streaky bacon is more commonly used as a topping in the U.S., on items such as pizza, salads, sandwiches, hamburgers, baked potatoes, hot dogs, and soups. Back bacon is used less frequently in the United States, but can sometimes be found on pizza, salads and omelets. Bacon bits are chopped pieces of pre-cooked bacon intended to be sprinkled over foods, particularly salads. Imitation "bacon bits" made of texturized vegetable protein flavoured to resemble authentic bacon bits are also available.
| Streaky bacon,|
| Streaky bacon,|
| Canadian style|
| Hormel Canadian|
|Amount||1 slice||1 slice||2 slices||1 serving|
|Total Weight (g)||29||8||47||56|
|Water (g)||3.57 (12%)||0.99 (12%)||29 (62%)||40.85 (73%)|
|Total Fat (g)||12.12||3.34||3.97||9.45|
|Saturated Fat (g)||3.984||1.099||1.335||1.025|
Bacon grease, also known as bacon drippings, is the grease created by cooking bacon. When bacon is cooked, its fat naturally melts, releasing a highly flavorful grease. Bacon grease is traditionally saved in southern U.S. cuisine and used as an all-purpose flavoring for everything from gravy to cornbread to salad dressing.
One teaspoon of bacon grease has . It is composed almost completely of fat, with very little additional nutritional value. Bacon fat is roughly 40% saturated. Despite the health consequences of excessive bacon grease consumption, it remains popular in the cuisine of the American South.