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The Bacon Blog

The salted and smoked meat from the back and sides of a pig.

Bacon is a meat product prepared from a pig and usually cured. It is first cured using large quantities of salt, either in a brine or in a dry packing; the result is fresh bacon. Fresh bacon may then be further dried for weeks or months in cold air, or it may be boiled or smoked. Fresh and dried bacon is typically cooked before eating, often by frying. Boiled bacon is ready to eat, as is some smoked bacon, but may be cooked further before eating.

Bacon is prepared from several different cuts of meat. It is usually made from side and back cuts of pork, except in the United States and Canada, where it is most commonly prepared from pork belly. The side cut has more meat and less fat than the belly. Bacon may be prepared from either of two distinct back cuts: fatback, which is almost pure fat, and pork loin, which is very lean. Bacon-cured pork loin is known as back bacon.

Bacon may be eaten smoked, boiled, fried, baked, or grilled and eaten on its own, as a side dish or used as a minor ingredient to flavour dishes. Bacon is also used for barding and larding roasts, especially game, including venison and pheasant. The word is derived from the Old High German bacho, meaning 'buttock', 'ham' or 'side of bacon', and cognate with the Old French bacon.

In contrast to the practice in the United States, in continental Europe these cuts of the pig are usually not smoked, but are instead used primarily in cubes as a cooking ingredient, valued both as a source of fat and for its flavour. In Italy, this product is called pancetta and is usually cooked in small cubes or thinly sliced as part of an antipasto.