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>> From satisfying builders at breakfast to tempting the porky palates of high-end diners and even tantalising the trendiest taste buds in jam and ice cream... all hail the mighty bacon.
To celebrate International Bacon Day (31st August) we have selected some sizzling strips of information and tips sure to tempt you to fry up a delight of salty snacks for your customers. If you think beyond the butty (10 of which are eaten every second in the UK), and unleash your culinary Columbus, you can discover a world of dishes starting with the humble rasher. According to foodie and publisher Arun Gupta, bacon possesses six ingredient types of umami - dubbed the 'fifth taste' alongside sweet, sour, bitter and salty - giving food a depth of flavour that has no substitute. It is the ultimate crowd pleaser and as chefs the world over quote: "When in doubt, chuck cheese and bacon on it." There's no 'snout' your customers will be happy to celebrate International Bacon Day, so check out our fun facts and lip-smacking selection of hog heaven on a plate.

IT'S NOT PORK PIES...

1. The British spend around £1.37billion a year on bacon, eating 227,000 tonnes of it.

2. Bacon is one of the most versatile ingredients for chefs today and its prominence on menus continues to grow. The total market for dishes including bacon grew by 8% between 2010 and 2012 - with restaurants recording the biggest increase of 21.5%.

3. Hollywood star Kevin Bacon does not like bacon. He is a vegetarian and "occasional vegan".

4. Until the 16th century 'bacoun' was a Middle English term used to refer to pork in general. It became 'bacon' after merging with German (bakkon) and French (bako) dialects.

5. According to lovepork.co.uk there are records of the Romans salting sides of bacon as early as 200BC and Julius Caesar is thought to have brought his own bacon with him when he landed in Britain in 55BC!

6. Bacon is a great source of protein, vitamins B1 and B12, and the antioxidants zinc and selenium - so is actually a great hangover cure!

7. Canadian bacon is not really bacon... it is fully-cooked smoked pork loin.

8. Pregnant women are encouraged to eat bacon. Choline, which it contains, helps foetal brain development.

9. Bacon is the most missed meat according to vegetarians and dubbed the 'gateway meat' back to becoming a carnivore.

10. Gypsy bacon is a Hungarian specialty consisting of a slab of bacon that's been roasted and then seasoned with paprika. It's then cut into thin slices and served on rye bread. Look for it in German or Hungarian markets.

CUTS OF BACON

Collar:
An excellent joint for boiling or braising, though it must be well soaked before cooking. It can also be sliced into rashers.

Back Rashers:
This lean cut/joint is usually sold as rashers or chops. Thinly cut for rashers, thicker for chops which are delicious fried, grilled or baked. A very thick piece can be used for boiling, braising or roasting.

Middle Rashers:
These are a breakfast time favourite as well as being an excellent buy economically.

Gammon:
A lean, meaty cut and a prime joint for boiling, braising, roasting or baking. Gammon rashers or steaks are also usually cut from this joint and are excellent grilled or fried.

Gammon Hock:
Less widely available than other cuts and similar to the forehock, this is good meat for casseroles, soups, pies and mincing.

Streaky Rashers:
A popular favourite, offering a tasty combination of lean bacon with fat, best grilled. A joint of streaky bacon is good boiled and pressed, eaten cold. Streaky bacon is especially good value for money.

Shoulder:
An excellent joint for boiling or braising, though it must be well soaked before cooking. It can also be sliced into rashers.

Forehock:
Similar to the gammon hock this meat is great for cooking casseroles, soups, pies and mincing and it's less readily available than most other cuts.

Rashering Recipes...


Bacon and Egg Pie
>> Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 sheet puff pastry
  • 6-8 slice cooked bacon (fried or grilled)
  • 8 eggs (reserve one yolk for brushing pastry)
  • 20 ml milk or
  • 20 ml double cream
  • 1 onion (not too big)
  • Parsley


  • Method:

    1. Leave the pastry out for 20 minutes at least to stop it from tearing when using.

    2. Cut the rinds of the bacon and chop bacon.

    3.Whisk eggs putting one yolk to the side.

    4.Whisk in the milk or cream.

    5. Chop onion.

    6. Lay one sheet of pastry in a casserole dish and make sure it comes just over the sides of the dish.

    7. Prick the base with a fork.

    8. Sprinkle the onion all over the base.

    9. Chop the parsley (one whole packet).

    10. Mix the parsley and bacon in with the egg mixture.

    11. Pour into the dish.

    12. Cover with other sheet of pastry and crimp together and cut off any excess pastry.

    13. Decorate the top if you want.

    14. Cook for 25 minutes at 200°C and check it's not burning.

    15. If so, place some tin foil over and place back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes until cooked.


    Crispy Bacon and Cabbage Spaghetti
    >> Serves 4

    Ingredients:

  • ½ a Savoy cabbage
  • 2 shallots
  • A packet of smoked streaky bacon (300g)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 red chilli
  • Spaghetti (300-400g)
  • A few glugs of olive oil
  • A bowl of stale breadcrumbs


  • Method:

    1. Preheat an oven to 200°C.

    2. Put a big pan of salted water on the stove to heat up to a boil.

    3. Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage, cut both side of the tough core and remove it, then slice the green crisp leaves into thin strips.

    4. Peel, halve and slice the shallots thinly, then cut the bacon into thin strips across the width of the bacon.

    5. Crush the garlic and slice the chillies thinly, removing the seeds.

    6. Scatter the breadcrumbs onto an oven tray, drizzle in olive oil, season with salt and pepper then bake in the hot oven for a few minutes to crisp up.

    7. Cook the pasta in the boiling water for about 10 minutes until just cooked, and then drain in a colander.

    8. Fry the shallots in the oil for a few minutes and then add the bacon and cook for a few more minutes so that the bacon starts to crisp up.

    9. Add the shredded cabbage, garlic, chilli and some salt and pepper then fry for another few minutes until the cabbage is almost cooked.

    10. Toss the drained pasta into the cabbage mix to coat.

    11. Divide into bowls and sprinkle over the crisp breadcrumbs.



    Recipe and image Courtesy of SORTED, the largest digital food channel in Europe

    Article taken from August 2013 issue of Stir it up magazine. Get your copy here
     
     



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