Tuesday, November 11, 2008

British Style Back Bacon, an American Review.



I picked up some British style back bacon at Eats care of the William's Pork company. I have heard a lot about the differences between national bacon styles and the woes of American expats who are unable to find their accustomed bacon abroad. I have never had British/Irish style bacon, so when I saw this stuff at a very reasonable price I decided to give it a go.

The first obvious difference between American and British bacons is the cut of pork used to make them. The American bacon seen below is made from pork bellies, a very fatty cut of pig.



British bacon is made of center cut boneless pork loin. It kind of looks like very thinly cut pork chops with a little tail of darker meat. It is noticeably leaner then American streaky style bacon.



I threw this in the skillet with a little vegetable oil to brown. The British bacon does not give as much grease as American so a little more oil is necessary to achieve browning.



The cooked back bacon is a very different animal then what I am used to. You are not really going to achieve any great deal of crispness. If it is crisposity you seek, American bacon is the undisputed champ. It was too early to judge the bacon yet so I decided to see how another component of the pork. American bacon gives us a gift of luscious grease in which to cook our eggs and potatoes, the British stuff gives much less, barely enough to cook a couple of eggs.



I sat down with a nice plate of bacon and eggs to really see what this stuff is all about.



I was planning on making a definitive value judgment on who makes the better bacon, Britain or America. But after finishing the plate of the British style back bacon I decided that a direct comparison to our own bacon is really not fair. The two products are like comparing apples and oranges. Other than the fact that they are both a cured pork product they are really pretty different. If you are looking for crispy, greasy, salty and decadent goodness American bacon is definitely the way to go. British bacon has its own hight points, it has a delicious pork flavor and really goes well with eggs. It is not as salty and is totally without the smoked flavor of most American bacon. There is very little crispness, British bacon is more like eating an actual piece of meat, a thin pork chop if you will. It is not necessarily bad but it is so unlike the bacon that I was reared on that it defies comparison. I am not going to bad mouth the British stuff, but I would definitely miss our own homegrown strips of heavenly pork if I was forced to live abroad.


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22 comments:

  1. It's actually very easy to get "British" bacon crispy, all you have to do is cook it.

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  2. Yes, a nice crisp finish is easy to achieve. Also, we usually grill the bacon (well I do).

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  3. there's a Irish restaurant in Burlington,VT that has incorporates said bacon you wrote of. i remember it being very unlike American bacon.

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  4. Look for 'streaky' bacon in the UK for an american equivalent. Nice bacon review by the way!

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  5. Mmm ...

    Nice post.

    Im off to make a lovely British bacon sandwich for my supper ...

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  6. mmmbacon... I agree about British bacon, tasty but it's different. A bit more like eating a slice of actual ham I think. More bacon goodness can be found here by the way: https://community.bacontalk.com

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  7. British bacon isnt supposed to be crispy, but slightly soft/underdone. Looking at the pictures the reviewer posted, the bacon itself looked underfatted- there should be a lot more rind present, the cooking oil should not be needed.

    Overall, the product featured looked as "british" as an "american hotdog" does in the UK... although kudos to the reviewer for seeing the potential with eggs. Just remember, british bacon should be limp, not crispy.

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  8. As an American expat in the UK I really enjoyed your post. I've actually become accustomed to somewhat soggier bacon now that I'm here, but it is nice to be able to go out and buy streaky bacon and get that crunch crispy texture when I want it!

    Just posted a recipe for Bacon & Cheddar scones myself if you're interested: www.aestheticdalliances.blogspot.com

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  9. The review is a joke. Just the act of judging a piece of bacon by its crispness is moronic.

    Absolutely pathetic

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  10. British bacon should never be limp. I dont know anyone who would have it that way. Best in a butty (with brown sauce if you must)

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  11. Nice review. However the advice I would give is the cooking technique. It is better to broil (in the UK Grill) British bacon. You will easily achieve the crispness you desire by duration. Always best served in fresh soft white bread, with real butter. Plus its easy to get smoked versions in the UK. More bacon variety is what the US needs.

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  12. Of course British Bacon can be crispy just don't buy cheap supermarket rubbish, buy a dry cure bacon and it crisps as easy as anything in a fying pan. Also there are generally three cuts of bacon available in the UK; Streaky made from belly the fattiest bacon same as US bacon, then there is Back bacon made from the loin which is very lean as used by the reviewer and there is middle which is exactly as named part streaky, part loin. As Mike says there is smoked and non-smoked of each cut and also a wide choice of cures as well. I prefer to cure my own using free-range rare breed pork, can't beat it with home made bread and butter.

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  13. you must have brought a bacon that said it was british but was only a fake ours is nothing like you describe and its ranked 2nd best in the world next to danish bacon in 1st place,

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  14. Al (British settler in Iowa)June 10, 2011 at 12:46 PM

    The last comment made about missing american bacon if living abroad i agree, except in reverse, where i am i am unable to get britisg cut bacon and although i do like the american cut from time to time i miss the british cut

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  15. A True Brit in The ColoniesFebruary 20, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    British bacon comes in many different cuts, examples Back bacon ,and Streaky bacon. Streaky bacon being similar to the American style bacon.The comparisons made by the writer are made with very limited experience ,or knowledge of the subject,which is sad ,and typically American.He obviously has never had a real Bacon butty.

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  16. some international friends I play a game with online say they boil it with cabbage like a corned beef.

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  17. British bacon also comes smoked.

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  18. that is a poor cut of bacon, proper British bacon is thicker and smoked is better.
    The best way to look at it is like this, if you strips of very thin mostly fat bacon, buy American bacon, if you like a big chunk of bacon with the correct amount of fat then buy British.

    Germans have streaky bacon, and when ever I go over there I always take British bacon with me because they can't get enough of the stuff,, this the same country with strict quality controls that they're not allowed to sell American beers like Bud, it doesn't even class as beer over there.

    I would like to say it is a fair review, and it is to a point, but using the wrong bacon and overcooked eggs, cook eggs on a lower heat for longer, makes for a tastier egg.

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  19. Fascinating reading. I am a bacon supplier in Central Europe. We make and supply the British/Irish bacon and the American bacon for hotels, restaurants and some individuals throughout Central Europe. Good to hear your views - the two types are really quite different - not to mention the Canadian type. I really do think nostalgia plays a big part in which bacon we prefer; however, as a Brit, I definitely think the American bacon is delicious! Feel free to take a look at Comfort Food Shop's facebook page if you're interested in finding out a bit more about what we do.

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  20. THANK you. British bacon not only does not produce any fat with which to cook eggs, it actually produces a waxy substance that makes it impossible to reuse the pan. also, the smell of it cooking is rather offensive. To my palate, very little to crow about...

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  21. Not only does back bacon produce no oil with which to fry eggs, it actually leaves behind a dry waxy substance -- which cannot be used to fry anything. The smell of back bacon frying is an affront to the senses, with a sharp necrotised pong as opposed to the lovely smoky and well 'bacony' odour of american. The texture is more akin to eating a shoe sole. The two are as different as can be, but to my British palate, once I'd put my prejudices aside, have to admit american is superior.

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  22. Maybe I've only had bad/cheap American bacon, maybe its because I'm used to (British) back bacon. But as a comparison I find the American version to be an overcooked, crispy, salty, inferior version.

    But thanks to this site at least I now know why they are so different. I wondered how it was possible to mess up cooking bacon :)

    Don't think this is an anti-American rant, its far from it, just a personal opinion.

    What I will say is that whoever invented pancakes, bacon and syrup is an utter genius! Its an amazing breakfast.

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