What Part of Pig is Bacon? With Different Cut Types

Crispy, salty, meaty, and delicious, are just some of the words to describe bacon. No one can deny America’s love affair with bacon.

It is a staple in American cuisine and has long been a favorite on the dinner table. With its rich, salty, melt-in-your-mouth texture, this versatile red meat is a great source of flavor for all sorts of dishes.

Its popularity has not even declined one single bit rather, there is an increased demand for bacon and pork, now more than ever.

Even the bacon lovers like you and many others do not know what it is exactly and where does bacon come from.

There are many types of cut that fall under the term ‘bacon’. We bet you do not know much about your favorite crispy, meaty snack.

Do you know that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has a very specific bacon definition? Well, Most of you do not, read on, you will know all about the bacon cuts in this post.

What is Bacon?

Bacon is salt-cured meat prepared from several different cuts of meat. Pig’s belly, back, or sides can be a part of the bacon.

Several types of bacon are made from different cuts of pork.

Bacon is cooked as a standalone or side dish or used as an ingredient in different recipes like sandwiches, salads, pasta dishes, and more.

What Part of Pig Is Bacon?

Now that you know exactly what bacon is, the next important question that you should be asking is what part of the pig is bacon or where does bacon come from.

Bacon comes from loin, ribs, sides, belly, and anywhere that has a high-fat content. Most Americans are familiar with ‘Steaky bacon’ or side bacon which is a cut from pork belly.

Different types of bacon cuts come from different parts of the pigs. Pork needs to go through a curing process to create ham, bacon, and more. Therefore, meat is first cured to turn it into bacon. 

bacon

Bacon Cuts

Wondering what makes all these bacon varieties found in a butcher shop and grocery store different from each other? Besides the curing process, it is the cuts that give them distinction and the quality of the meat.

Here, you will different types of bacon and where they are cut from.

Slab Bacon 

Slab bacon comes from the belly and side cuts, and fatback. This bacon cut can have a medium to the very high percentage of fat.

It is often sold with the rind still on which can be removed before cooking.

The slab can be purchased whole or sliced to be cut into thick or thin strips. 

Center-Cut Bacon

Center-Cut bacon is specifically defined by the cut of the meat.

As it is labeled as center-cut which means it is taken from the middle of the pork belly, close to the bone.

This part of the pig is less fatty and leaner. It is considered the highest quality meat and low-fat content would not affect the cooking process. 

Short-Cut Bacon

This bacon variety is for health-conscious people as it has low-fat content.

This much leaner and round piece of bacon comes from the back of the pig. It only has a thin layer of fat that can be removed later.

Broadback Bacon

Otherwise known as Cottage bacon, this type of bacon is quite fatty and lean. Broadback Bacon comes from pork shoulder or butt roast.

However, it is cured and smoked like regular bacon.

This bacon has wide streaks of fats and is meatier than the bacon cut from pork belly. 

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Lardons

Lardon is a fancy word for slab bacon sliced into matchsticks and cubes. This juicy bacon can be added to salads, sauces, and roasts.

They are cuts of pork belly or loin then cured in salt and seasonings. 

Canadian Bacon

Canadian or Back bacon is usually cut from the loin. It is quite leaner than the belly bacon and comes in round slices.

This bacon comes from pork loin which is a cut of meat from the middle back of the pig. It has more protein and less cholesterol.

pig-bacon

Irish Bacon

Irish, Rashers, or English bacon is a usual breakfast in Ireland. Traditionally, Irish bacon comes from the back of the pig and is quite similar to Canadian bacon.

However, unlike Canadian bacon, this bacon cut tends to have a layer of fat around the outer edge of the slices.

Peameal Bacon

It is the most traditional and popular variety of bacon in Tronto, Canada. Like the other specialty of this country, Canadian Bacon, it is also cut from the pork loin.

It got its name because the wet-cured pork loin is trimmed of fat and rolled in cornmeal during the cooking process.

Speck

This bacon variety is made from the same cut as ham. Speck comes from the hind leg cut and it is specifically characterized by this cut.

Speck is cured in a unique spice blend which makes it even tastier.

Pancetta

This worth-mentioning Italian bacon variety has a lot in common with American-style bacon.

It is made from the pork belly and only cured not smoked. Pancetta comes sliced, extremely thin, or diced. It adds bacony flavor to the main, side dishes, and appetizers.

Guanciale

Pronounced gwan-CHA-lay, this Italian bacon variety is cut of pork jowl or cheek.

This Italian word translates to pig cheek, so, it is named after its specific cut.

Mostly used in Italian sauces, this bacon is soft, fatty, and has a strong flavor than Pancetta.

Streaky Bacon

This one may sound familiar to most of you as it is the most commonly cooked bacon in the United States.

Side bacon or Streaky bacon is cut from the pork belly with long, alternating layers of fats and muscles running parallel to the rind.

They are shaped like a ruler, therefore, referred to as bacon strips. 

Middle Bacon

Though the pig name may make you believe otherwise it comes from the side of the animal.

It is fairly priced has an intermediate fat content and flavor is similar to streaky and back bacon.

Cottage Bacon

This thinly sliced lean pork meat comes from the shoulder cut. Cottage bacon is typically meaty and oval-shaped. It is cured and sliced for baking and frying.

Bacon Joints

It includes

  • Collar bacon comes from the back near the head.
  • Hock is cut from the hog ankle joint between ham and foot.
  • Gammon traditionally comes from the hind leg.

To sum up, even though bacon is a favorite meat variety of many people, still, they do not know where it is cut from. Bacon typically comes from pig’s belly, loin, and sides. 

  • Usman Aslam has done his degree in Agronomy and Animal breeding from the CAU (China Agriculture University). He is serving as a livestock expert in local farms.

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