Bacon is prepared from a number of different cuts of meat from pigs. Canadians most commonly eat bacon prepared from the pork belly. We often consume this type of side- bacon while it is very fresh forgoing the aging process; instead we salt and often cure our bacon with brine in the bag packaging. Outside of Canada this bacon is also known as green bacon and is further referred to as streaky bacon in reference to its fat content and distribution within the meat. This same cut of bacon gives us Pancetta; Italy’s version of streaky bacon which is simply rolled up, smoked, salt cured and allowed to age.
The brine used to cure bacon often contains sodium nitrite, sodium nitrate or potassium nitrate which are added to hasten curing and the stabilizing of bacons colour. Added flavorings such as smoke, maple or brown sugar may also be used.
Canadian bacon is also referred to as back bacon; a cured pork loin which is quite meaty with lesser amounts of fat. Other bacon cuts include Jowl bacon, Collar bacon, Cottage bacon, Picnic bacon, Gammon and Hock bacon with rashers or slices varying in size and fat content according to which cut they originate from.
Although leaner cuts of bacon are available it is admittedly prized for its flavour and fat content which is why we use bacon for larding and barding roasts or frying cubes of bacon fat called lardons in recipes. I often save excess bacon drippings to fry or sauté vegetables or other foods in.
The combined tastes of salt, smoke and fat have made bacon one of the most versatile food ingredients. We can attend bacon festivals that serve up bacon in a variety of ways including pies and ice cream. Even the smell of bacon is so alluring that a perfume company is marketing its scent.
Locally we have a number of butchers who sell high quality air-dried bacon Smokey Joe’s is on such place you can great quality bacon to try in this week’s recipe for candied bacon. It’s great on its own, on salads or baked in bread. Although its available I do not recommend using beef, chicken or turkey bacons in this recipe.
Kick Ass Candied Bacon
1 pound of bacon sliced thick
1/2 c brown sugar
1 Tbsp. maple syrup the real stuff
1 tsp. Kick Ass Cajun
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with a couple of layers of foil.
Line up the bacon slices in neat rows on the baking sheet so they are just about touching.
In a medium size bowl, mix together the brown sugar, maple syrup and Kick Ass Cajun. With your fingers, crumble half of the maple- brown sugar mixture over the bacon slices. Place bacon in the oven and cook for 8-10 minutes.
Remove bacon from the oven, using tongs flip over each slice of bacon. Crumple the remaining maple – brown sugar mixture over the bacon and return pan to oven to cook for another 8-10 minutes. If you prefer crispier bacon it may need to cook a bit longer.
Once the bacon has reached its desired crispness, remove the pan from the oven and let the bacon rest for about 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon from the pan to a plate. Do not place it on a paper towel as the paper will stick to the bacon. Use at your discretion.