For many of us, there’s nothing like the smell of bacon sizzling away in your kitchen on a Saturday morning. Or a Sunday morning. Or any day, really. Whether you like yours super crispy and served with eggs and toast or maple-glazed and wrapped around your Thanksgiving turkey, if you’re a red-blooded American you probably love this salty, cured pork. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, pork ranks third in U.S. meat consumption (behind beef and chicken); Americans consume about 51 pounds of pork products per person per year. It’s estimated that 18 of those pounds is in the form of bacon.
Now that we’ve established that we love to eat bacon, how much do we actually know about it?6- to 7-month-old pig). Bacon that is made from a different animal (which technically isn’t bacon at all) or from a different part of the pig requires a specific name like “turkey bacon” or “pork shoulder bacon.” The most common pork bacon in the United States is what the British call “streaky bacon” — skinned, cured, and smoked pork side, so named for its distinct red and white striped appearance.
Regardless of where it comes from, bacon is full of smoky, salty flavor. It can be cooked and served as-is, or it can be used to enhance another dish. Chopped bacon can be cooked in a pan and used to flavor sauces, soups, pastas, and more; cooked, crumbled bacon can be added to baked goods like chocolate chip cookies or banana muffins for a savory twist on a classic sweet; and strips of bacon can be wrapped around roasts, vegetables, and fish before they’re cooked. Any way you use it, bacon will add tons of delicious flavor to your cooking; just be sure to adjust the salt in your finished dish since bacon contributes saltiness as well.
Think you know a lot about bacon? Check out these fun bacon facts and see how much you know.
Bacon Might Cure Hangovers
This might be the best news ever; British researchers from Newcastle University say that bacon may actually help alleviate hangovers because it contains amino acids that help replace neurotransmitters that become depleted during heavy drinking.
You Can Buy Bacon Cologne
Cured, smoked pork has inspired a number of crazy products including a bacon-scented cologne. Created in 1920 by a Parisian butcher, this spray combines 11 essential oils with the essence of, you guessed it, bacon.
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.