Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Skinny on Bacon

Recently, I was preparing my weekly meal plan and somehow ended up with two different recipes (from back home) that called for bacon, and one that required ham. So, off I went to the Coop to pick up said ingredients, and came face to face with an endless array of varieties and not at all what I expected for ham.

Over here (in southern England at least) they have bacon, streaky bacon, rindless bacon, back bacon. They have pork, they have ham and they have gammon. If you find this confusing, as I did, let me break it down for you:

Streaky bacon is what we in East-coast Canada call bacon. This comes in both regular and smoked varieties, as well as their reduced sodium counterparts. Someone here told me this is more what you'd use to put in a sandwich or to flavour a dish. (Yes, I have no shame questioning innocent shoppers.)

Bacon is a thicker and wider sliced cut of what we call bacon, but there are [almost] no stripes of fat in it, only along one edge. Rather, there is actually kind of a filet of meat on these slices. This refers to the type of bacon the British would rather have with bacon and eggs.

Now, rindless bacon is a variety of bacon as stated above, but with no rind on it. To me, it looks exactly the same as the bacon; wide, thick slices, no white stripes in it, only along one edge.

Ham is cut from the hind leg of the pork (same as gammon), and then cured or cooked. Gammon is also cut from the hind leg of the pig (same as ham), but it is sold raw. It has already been either air-dried or lightly cured, but still needs to be completely cooked. Technically they're the same, though shoppers and grocery store staff weren't able to explain the difference to me. Most of the time, if you ask someone for ham, they point you to the deli counter. I have yet to find a hunk of ham—like we would find back home—other than at the deli counter. Usually, it's with the sandwich meats or in pre-sliced prepared packages (like at M├ętro/IGA). Personally, I referred to BBC Good Food to better understand the difference between gammon and ham.

If you're looking for what we—in Quebec—call "jambon toupie", you can either buy gammon and cook it, or you can buy a chunk of ham from the deli counter. Gammon can be regular or smoked. (Gammon/ham here in the UK, from what I've understood from my American friends, is what they would call "Canadian Bacon" in the States and apparently also in some parts of Canada, though I've absolutely never heard bacon referred to as Canadian Bacon.)

Pork—from what I've come to understand after asking staff at different grocery stores as well as fellow shoppers—is raw meat sold in a variety of cuts, primarily used for roasting or stewing, and can also be found ground (minced). Not to be mistaken with gammon. Whaaaa?? LOL

Speaking of stew, there's a really amazing stew recipe I've saved to my Google+ Traditional British Recipes collection: Irish Pork Stew. If you are interested in learning about the history behind a full/traditional English Breakfast, during my research I found this article at the English Breakfast Society both informative and entertaining.

Full English Breakfast—courtesy of Wikipedia.

N.B. Some of the pictures above were taken by me, others are borrowed from Wikipedia (labelled for reuse), but as I buy these meats myself, I will photograph them and replace the ones I borrowed.