Makin' Bacon

Common Types of Bacon

Let’s get this straight - you can cut turkey, chicken or anything else into thin strips and fry it. That ain’t bacon! Bacon is cured and smoked pork, but there are a few different cuts of pork you can use.

Pork Belly Bacon

Pork belly is used for making the most popular type of bacon. This is the same type of bacon that you see packaged in the supermarket. Pork belly is by definition, a boneless cut of fatty meat from the belly of the pig. This cut is typically sold in large slabs which are on average around 10-15 pounds, and it usually costs between $3.00 and $5.00 per pound in the U.S. A fresh pork belly can be between 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches thick. Some bellies are sold with the skin on. The skin can be removed with a sharp knife before curing, or it can be easily peeled away from the meat after hot smoking. If you prefer to cold smoke the bacon and you want the skin removed, it is suggested to removed prior to smoking.

“Canadian” Bacon

Canadian Bacon is the American name for a form of bacon that is made using the lean eye of the pork loin. It is typically cured and smoked much like belly bacon, however, it is also usually hot-smoked and fully cooked to an internal temperature of 140-145. Doing so makes it ready to eat without being further fried in a pan or cooked using any other method. The term “Canadian” bacon is not normally used in Canada where this type of bacon is often called “back” bacon.

Buckboard Bacon

Buckboard or shoulder bacon is cured and smoked using the same methods as belly bacon, however, the pork butt or shoulder of the pig is used instead of the pork belly. The leaner cut gives this bacon more of a meaty or hammy taste to it. This cut of meat will often be sold as “bone in”. The bone is typically (and carefully) cut out to create a somewhat flattened piece of meat. Although not terribly difficult to do, it may take a bit of practice for the beginner. Being a much cheaper cut of meat makes this type of bacon a great alternative to belly bacon, especially considering that it is just as delicious.