When it comes to parts of the pork used in cooking pork belly is one of the tastiest. But how does it differ from bacon? Let us find out as you read further.
What Is Pork Belly?
If you remove the loin and spareribs of the hog, you’ll get a cut that is sought after in the culinary world called pork belly. These cuts are often served in a small potion. Pork belly also has a succulent and richly flavorful, especially the fresh one.
When kept whole, this fatty, boneless cut of meat that comes from the belly of the pig may look like a brick of meat with a thick layer of flat running along the top. Whole pork belly also has smaller layers of fat marbled throughout.
There are different ways to cook a pork belly and make savory dishes out of it. One of the most popular ways to do it is through braising. Pork bell will undergo a long and slow cooking process. This will allow the fatty meat to be ultra tender, with fats that melt in the mouth.
What is Bacon?
Bacon is a popular side dish that can also be used as a central ingredient, or as a flavoring or accent like those bacon crumbles seen in a salad.
Bacon is typically made from cuts of pork loin that are rubbed with a mixture of salt and spices. It is usually cured by leaving the meat for a week, before it is washed with warm water, dried and smoked.
Since it is cured with salt, expect a salty flavor once you try eating bacon. But it is salty in a delicious way. Imagine a melty, semi-solid butter that melts in your mouth, that’s what you will get when you eat bacon.
One of the most commonly sold bacon in the markets is the streaky pork bacon. It is a cut from the pork belly, or fleshy underside of the pig.
Pork Belly Vs Bacon: Main Differences
As you can see with the description above, the bacon is made from pork belly. So they say bacon can be a pork belly, but technically pork belly can never be bacon. This is actually confusing to some, but we are here to shed light by pointing out their differences.
First, let us discuss how they are produced. Pork belly is generally made from the fresh cut of the pork tenderloin and spareribs meat. Meanwhile, bacon is a salt-cured meat cut from a pig’s belly or back.
There are also different types of bacon depending on which part of the animal they come from. You can get streaky bacon, back bacon, slab bacon, jowl bacon and cottage bacon. Whereas the pork belly could only come from one part of the hog.
You can get a pork belly from a fresh cut of the pork’s loin or spareribs. This makes it a readily available meat that can be used on different pork belly recipes.
Though bacon is readily available in the markets, the time it consumes to produce one is long. There is a thing that is called uncured pork belly, but you can’t find something that is called uncured bacon.
Since bacon is a cured meat, that means it will take time to drain the moisture and procure the final product of the bacon. Given that scenario, pork belly won’t have additives and no additional salt, but you can smoke the fresh cuts of pork belly.
Given the processing and procuring time of the bacon, it is expected that it can be more expensive than the pork belly. To add up, bacon uses additional ingredients that could also add up to its cost.
On the other hand, pork belly won’t need those flavor enhancers and that could result in a lower price. Though there is no specific pricing for the bacon, it could differ on how they are processed and who the manufacturer is.
Surely we love the savory flavor that bacon provides, but it isn’t the healthiest way to substitute pork belly. And the reasons for that are pretty obvious.
The way it has been made decrements the benefits we get from the regular meat. Unlike pork belly, bacon needs to go through a long curing process, then additives and salt are added which makes it very unhealthy.
Pork belly is able to retain its natural state as it won’t undergo any curing process, thus, it is more beneficial to our body.
When it comes to the recipes they can be used, pork belly offers a wider options to choose from. Depending on the needs, they can be used as a substitute if the other one is missing.
Bacon is already good to be cooked as it is, but it can also be incorporated into other recipes such as pizza toppings. Bacon can also be added to sweet dishes as its salty flavor would compliment well to the recipe.
Now, pork belly may have a milder flavor profile than the bacon, but it can also provide that savory taste to the dishes it is used to and can be cooked in different ways. It can be braised, baked, deep-fried or roasted. It is definitely suitable to be used as the main protein of your meals.
But it is also safe to note that bacon is easier to cook than pork belly. Since it is already cured, you don’t need that much heat energy to cook bacon. Just place it in a pan and let it get cooked properly. Meanwhile, if you mess up, you might not get a well-cooked pork belly.
Summary of the Differences Between Bacon and Pork Belly
Eating bacon and pork belly can be fun, as they are both delicious. You can easily grab them at grocery stores or meat shops. But here are the key differences between these two.
Bacon is cured and additives are added to enhance its flavors. Meanwhile, pork belly is fresh and can be cooked directly from the fresh cuts.
Bacon is also unhealthy when compared to the pork belly as it is processed with all other ingredients, while pork belly retains its natural state. But take note that pork belly contains more fat than bacon.
If you are looking at the budget, it is wiser to get pork belly as it is cheaper than bacon. But you have to check if the recipe really calls for pork belly. Bacon is good to be used as a side dish or topping, while pork belly is suitable to be used on main dishes.
Should you need a faster way to prepare your food, go with the bacon as cooking pork belly can be time consuming. Also remember that if you are working on sweet dishes, bacon could go well with that one. But if you are good with slow cooking, then use pork belly instead.
And lastly, bacon does not only come from pigs. Aside from pork bacon, there is also beef bacon, turkey bacon, and duck bacon. If you are not sure which one to get, check with your local butcher. Cooking bacon and pork belly can be fun, and there are few recipes that you can check online.