What’s The Difference Between Pork Belly and Bacon?

Sep 19, 2018 | Blog

One of the most popular foods in the US is Bacon. Not only is it easy to make, but it’s also delicious and can be eaten anytime. You can also pair bacon with just about anything, from sandwiches, soup, and burgers.

However, pork belly is another cut that is more versatile and equally palatable like bacon. The main question here is, are they the same?

Pork Belly vs Bacon

A quick search will tell you, technically yes. Bacon and pork belly are similar. Bacon can come from pork belly, but before we define the differences it’s important to understand what each cut is.

What is Pork Belly?

The name alone suggests the meaning. Pork belly is a cut from the abdominal area of a pig. It is non-cured and is globally used for many recipes. If you buy it from your local butcher or meat shop, it comes unsliced. This means that you get a whole slab of meat.

Since its unsmoked and uncured, its versatile and is used in various recipes. In most cases, its cooked by deep-frying, braising, or roasting. However you cook it, the meat will be tender and its fat will also be very soft which is why it melts in your mouth.

What Cut is Bacon?

Bacon, on the other hand, is cured meat from pork. The curing of bacon involves soaking it in salt and then drying it and preparing it for smoking or boiling. Bacon undergoes an intense process of curing. However, its cooked normally before consumption, mostly by baking, frying, or grilling to make them crispy.

In the United States, the most common type of bacon is the “streaky bacon.” This type of bacon is a cut from the pork belly or the pig’s side. They are more like the fatty meat strips that have a rind. Unlike pork belly, bacon can be prepared from different parts of a pig like the back, loin, shoulder, and cheeks.

Non-pork bacon varieties have become popular because of certain rules and religion. You can find chicken bacon, beef bacon, lamb bacon, and turkey bacon in your supermarkets.

Most people eat bacon for breakfast with eggs like a hamburger or sandwich filling, or sometimes as a pizza topping. However, due to the curing process, it has a high nitrate content and high sodium which tends to cause heart diseases, blood pressure, and cancer as well.

So, What’s The Difference Between Pork Belly and Bacon?

For starters. Pork belly is an unsmoked, uncured whole large slab of meat from the abdominal area of a pig. It usually comes from the skin which makes it fatty. Bacon, on the other hand, is a long thin slice from pork belly. Bacon is typically smoked and cured.

Even though people commonly compare the two, bacon can come from different parts of the pig, not just the belly. Pork belly, however, unlike bacon, can be used in a number of recipes because it is raw unprocessed meat. As long as the recipe calls for pork, pork belly can qualify.

Pork belly can be cooked by braising, frying, deep frying, or roasting. Bacon can be cooked by baking, grilling, or frying because it is processed meat which allows it to achieve a crispiness. Since bacon is brined/cured, it has high levels of nitrate and sodium because of the preservatives. Pork belly is uncured meaning it lacks all the additives that bacon has.

Just like the name suggests, pork belly is as it sounds. So just like the pig’s belly, it has high-fat content which is why most people find it intimidating to prepare. If you fail to handle pork belly correctly, the muscle and fat seize up, which results in a rubbery, chewy mess.

Conclusion

Most bacon is actually pork belly. However, not all pork belly is actually bacon. Bacon is cut from a pork belly slab, the side, back, or from the pork loin. In essence, you can boil, smoke, grill, or bake both types of meat. However, since the pork belly is raw, you have more opportunities to experiment.

References

Billy Stewart

Chef and Reviewer for Barbequesmoked.com

Barbeque Smoked

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