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Bacon vs Pork Belly are versatile pork meat cuts popular in America. Especially, Bacon has seen a popularity boom in the US and you see it being served in several ways. Either piled next to eggs, sprinkled atop soups, added in salads, bacon is known to enhance any food it is added to.
Pork belly should not be underestimated and it is an equally versatile cut. This cut is also added to a variety of recipes to give the required flavor and texture.
A lot of people seem confused as bacon comes from the belly of the pork, so, they keep asking the difference between bacon and pork belly.
These two cuts can be used interchangeably in recipes as bacon works as the best pork belly substitute. Despite the similarities, there are some major differences between these two pork cuts.
Pork belly and bacon both come from the belly of the pigs that led to confusion over the years that pork belly is just a fancy term for bacon, however, the answer may surprise you when you witness the pork belly vs bacon showdown.
It can be challenging for pork lovers to tell the difference between these two almost identical cuts, so, it is important to know how these two pork cuts are different from each other.
Bacon vs Pork Belly
Labels can be sometimes confusing to define two different things coming from the same origin.
They are similar in many ways, technically, these two fatty and delicious cuts of meat have some major differences.
The differences lie in where the cut is from exactly, variants, and how these two pork cuts are cooked.
These two pork offerings are easy to confuse at first glance. So, to get a better understanding of their differences, it is important to know more about these individual cuts first.
You may believe that you know your favorite pork cut better but do you? Where does it come from, quality, and how it is prepared? Well, you need to know more about America’s favorite pork cut.
Bacon is primarily derived from pork belly, in the US, it is exclusively cut from the belly. However, bacon can come from several origins and has different variants. It is usually cut from the back, loin, jowls, shoulder, butt, and sides.
Mostly, Americans cook streaky bacon exclusively cut from the pork belly or fleshy underside of the pig.
Bacon is technically pork belly, however, pork belly can not be necessarily bacon. This thin-cut pork belly undergoes curing and smoking.
Pork bacon is usually salt-cured or brined and store-bought bacon is often treated with nitrates and nitrites.
These preservatives or unhealthy compounds give pork its characteristics pink color and extended shelf life.
Bacon can also be sourced from other animals like chickens, lamb, and turkey. These non-pork varieties are quite popular among people who avoid pork and follow a kosher diet.
Related Beef Bacon vs Pork Bacon
It is an uber-fatty and rich portion of the meat cut sourced from the belly of the pig. Unlike bacon, it is sold fresh and uncured.
Butchers often sell this meat cut in thick, big slabs, though it can be found in smaller pieces as well. Pork belly cut is also advertised as “side pork” or “fresh side.”
It is the prime pork cut that has the fattiest meat. Pork belly has a higher fat content than other popular pork cuts like loin or side.
The versatile and tender cut has a soft fattiness that melts in your mouth as you eat. It can be cooked in several ways; fried, roasted, and grilled. The pork belly is far-apart tender, so, make sure to not overcook it otherwise the pork will turn rubbery.
There is no need to worry about preservatives as this cut is sold fresh and uncured. Pork belly cut is affordable and cheaper than popular pork cuts like pork tenderloin.
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Difference Between Bacon and Pork Belly
Now that you know enough about these two pork cuts, it would be easier for you to understand the differences.
Though they look almost identical Bacon and Pork Belly differ in many ways. A list of differences between pork and bacon is compiled to give you a better understanding.
Pork belly and bacon come from the same part, belly or abdominal side. Pork belly is referred to the whole slab cut and is generally sold in large pieces.
Pork belly can be bacon but not all bacon is necessarily cut from the belly. There are different variants of bacon coming from different origins.
There are not really any types of pork belly as it comes from a single cut.
On the other hand, bacon comes from several cuts, therefore, has different types like streaky bacon, back bacon, jowl bacon, and side bacon.
These bacon cuts come from pork belly, loin, sides, cheeks, and shoulders respectively.
Sourced From Other Animals
There is no need to worry about the origin of Pork belly as it comes only from pigs, so, it is exactly what it is.
Bacon can be sourced from different animals such as beef bacon, turkey bacon, lamb bacon, duck bacon, etc, so, pay attention to its origin before buying it.
Processing Before Cooking
You would mostly get fresh and uncured pork belly and not a lot goes into preparing and processing this cut prior to cooking.
There is no need for curing, adding additives or salt, smoke right after cutting it.
Bacon requires processing before it is cooked, all the moisture is drained from the meat with some assistance from salt.
It is a slow process and takes almost a week, after this, the meat is dried before smoking.
Pork belly is a cheaper meat cut than many other parts of the pigs. There is no need for curing, so, you can save extra bucks as well.
Buying and turning bacon into savory food is not only long but expensive as well. Purchasing additives for curing contribute to inflating the price further. Also, there is no specific price range for bacon, the price is different from store to store.
Pork belly and bacon can be used interchangeably in different recipes but they work differently. Pork belly is a softer cut of meat that can be versatile to cook.
That does not mean bacon is not versatile, it can replace pork belly, however, you can expect the same results as you would with a tender pork belly.
Bacon can not give a similar pork belly taste as it is salty and has a stronger flavor.
As you may have guessed that pork belly is winning the race right now, it is a healthier option as it lacks all the additional ingredients and additives. Plus, seasoning can be kept under control as required.
Bacon has a long curing process with a high amount of additives and salt to turn it into savory food. There are fewer benefits and more detriments when it comes to bacon.
Pork belly is not easier to cook that’s why amateur cooks shy away from cooking it. Most people can not cook it right on the first try.
It can easily go wrong and turn rubbery because of the high-fat content.
Even the first-time cooks would not have any problem cooking bacon as most of the time it just requires cooking in a frying pan for a few minutes.
Pork belly is sold in a whole thick slab, however, it does not mean it can not be made available in smaller pieces.
As per different variants, bacon is sold in different shapes, either in thin strips, round, or oval patterns.
Pork belly is more versatile as it is more tender and fits well to many different cooking applications.
Bacon is also versatile and used in a variety of recipes but it is nearly always pan-fried or baked.
Indeed, most bacon cuts are taken from the pig belly or abdominal area, still, it is a different cut from the pork belly. As you have understood all the differences, hopefully, you will find the best fit for your next recipe.