What Gives Bacon Its Character?
Bacon in the United States is typically made from pork bellies chosen for leanness and size, among other traits. After that, all bacon is preserved, making it either "cured" or "uncured." Uncured bacon is preserved with salt and naturally occurring nitrites like in vegetable juices, while cured bacon is preserved with salt and chemical additives, either of which can happen before the bacon is smoked.
Smoking is where the magic happens. Bacon smoked with applewood, cherrywood, and hickory is common, and smoke masters also smoke pork over sweet corn cobs, maple, or pecan for more unique flavors.
What’s Your Bacon Style?
Central Market brings together more than 75 varieties of specialty and artisan bacons in our Market and Deli, which means you have more than 75 different ways to let your bacon imagination take you beyond breakfast. Here are some basics of bacons to help you get started.
Slab Bacon — Whole, smoked, and unsliced pork belly that may be sliced to any thickness or chopped into any size or form.
Sliced Bacon — Available as thin, regular (1/16-inch), thick (1/8-inch), or extra thick (1/4- inch) strips that are easily pan fried or chopped into pieces.
Smoked Jowl — Cured and smoked pork jowls are fatter than pork bacon, and may be sliced and fried, or chopped to add to recipes and stews.
Canadian Bacon — Brined, smoked, lean pork loin sliced for pan frying or grilling, as a pizza topping or in sandwiches.
English and Irish Back Bacon/Rashers — Brined or dry-cured pork loin slices, smoked or unsmoked, for pan frying as a sandwich meat.
Tasso Ham — Pork shoulder cured in salt and sugar, rinsed and seasoned with spices, including cayenne and garlic, then smoked and often used to flavor southern or Creole dishes.
— Italian-style, dry-cured, unsmoked, spiced, dry-aged pork belly used for enhancing flavor.
What’s the Right Way to Cook Bacon?
Remember: No matter the cooking method, bacon will continue to cook and crisp after it is removed from heat. To protect the smoky flavor of artisan-style bacons, avoid overcooking your bacon. Instead slowly brown it over medium heat. Follow these simple rules to get the most flavor from whatever bacon strikes your fancy.
Oven — Lay slices of bacon flat on top of a rack or on parchment lining a rimmed sheet pan. Place pan in upper two-thirds of an oven heated to 375°F. Cook bacon 15 to 20 minutes.
Microwave Oven — Lay four to five slices of bacon in a single layer atop a few sheets of paper towel on a microwave-safe dish. Cover with a few more sheets of paper towel. Microwave on high for 4 to 5 minutes, or 1 minute per slice. Flip bacon and continue cooking 1 minute at a time until desired doneness.
Stovetop — Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Place bacon in a single layer without overcrowding. (Overcrowding will cause steaming rather than frying.) Cook 4 to 5 minutes per side.
The Basics of Bacon
Learn to speak better "Bacon" for a better bacon experience.
Cured — To cure bacon means to preserve it. Typically "cured" bacon is processed with sodium nitrate and salt.
Uncured — Uncured bacon is preserved with naturally occurring nitrites from vegetable juices, such as celery or chard, rather than using chemical additives, such as sodium nitrates. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines products free of sodium nitrates as uncured.
Wet-Cured — Bacon that has been wet-cured is soaked in brine and spices before smoking. The brine includes the curing agent sodium nitrate for pink color and food safety.
Dry-Cured — Dry-cured bacon is rubbed with a dry-salt mixture and aged in a cure before smoking. This bacon shrinks less when frying.
— Naturally smoked bacon is smoked over real wood chunks or with smoldering wood chips to enhance flavor. Different woods infuse bacons with a variety of flavors. Common woods used for smoking pork include applewood, cherrywood, hickory, and maple. Corn cobs are also used for smoking.
Central Market Uncured Bacon
Central Market All Natural Uncured Bacon begins with hand-selected,natural pork bellies humanely raised without antibiotics or added hormones on family farms. The bellies are hand-trimmed to our specifications and prepared for the smoke house with a few, simple ingredients. We smoke our applewood and cherrywood bacons an hour longer than standard smoke times for deeper, fuller flavor.
Because our bacon is uncured with recipes using no nitrates or nitrites, you’ll taste only the rich smoky and meaty flavors, not salt. Choose from:
Applewood — We use real applewood to smoke our bacon for flavor that’s full, yet not overpowering.
Hickory — Smoked over real,certified Vermont white hickory wood, our hickory-smoked bacon is smooth and easy on the palate with no bitterness.
Cherrywood — Smoked extra time with intensified smoke for a deeper cherry, slightly sweet,smoky flavor.
Black Forest — Hand-rubbed with blackstrap molasses for a subtly sweet, dark caramel flavor, and smoked over real hickory wood.
Apple Cinnamon — Brined with natural apple juice, coated with a touch of cinnamon and smoked with applewood for a balance of flavors.
Black Pepper — This one is hand-rubbed with black pepper and raw turbinado sugar blended with hickory smoke for a smooth, earthy flavor that’s savory and never sharp.