What Is Fatback Bacon? A Detailed Guide

If you’re a fan of bacon, you may have heard of its lesser-known cousin, fatback bacon.

But what exactly is fatback bacon? Is it just another type of bacon, or is there more to it?

In this article, we’ll explore the world of fatback bacon and discover its unique qualities and uses.

From its origins as a staple ingredient in southern cooking to its modern-day uses in charcuterie and pastry, we’ll delve into the history and versatility of this delicious cut of pork.

So sit back, relax, and get ready to learn all about fatback bacon.

What Is Fatback Bacon?

Fatback bacon is a type of bacon that is made from the fatback of a pig. Fatback is the layer of hard fat that runs along the back of the pig, and it is distinct from other types of pig fat, such as leaf lard, which comes from the abdominal cavity.

Unlike traditional bacon, which is made from both meat and fat, fatback bacon is made entirely from fat. This gives it a unique texture and flavor that sets it apart from other types of bacon.

Fatback bacon can be prepared in a variety of ways, including being sliced and fried like traditional bacon, or used as an ingredient in other dishes. It can also be cured with salt and smoked to create a delicious and flavorful charcuterie.

The Origins Of Fatback Bacon: A Southern Staple

Fatback bacon has a long history in the Southern United States, where it has been a staple food for generations. In fact, fatback has been an important part of Southern cuisine for so long that it is difficult to trace its exact origins.

One theory is that fatback became popular in the South because it was an inexpensive source of protein. Chickens and pigs could be raised on small-scale farms without special fodder, and pork, fresh or smoked, appeared in many dishes. All parts of the pig were used, sometimes only the bony or less desirable cuts were available for purchase. Pig’s tails, feet, ribs, ears, jowls, hocks, liver, and chitlins (chitterlings; i.e., intestines) became part of the soul food repertoire.

The cultural importance of barbecue in Southern foodways also played a role in the popularity of fatback bacon. Barbecuing—the slow cooking of meat over a wood fire—became a specialty, with regional variations in sauces and seasonings. Fatback, bacon, and lard season most traditionally prepared vegetables, and pork in some form or another appears on most Southern tables.

Fatback bacon was also an important element of traditional charcuterie in several European cultures. It was used to make specialty bacon and added to impart more flavor, moisture, and texture. The Italians used cured fatback to feed people doing grueling manual labor in stone quarries: the high calorie content kept the workers sufficiently fueled for their back-breaking work.

Today, fatback bacon remains an important ingredient in Southern cooking and soul food. It is used to add intense richness and flavor to various famous Southern dishes. Pork rinds, scratchings, cracklings, and chicharrones can all be made by deep frying fatback until the attached skin becomes golden brown and crunchy.

What Sets Fatback Bacon Apart From Other Types Of Bacon?

What sets fatback bacon apart from other types of bacon is its high fat content and distinct texture. Unlike traditional bacon, which is made from both meat and fat, fatback bacon is made entirely from the hard fat that runs along the back of the pig. This gives it a unique texture that is crunchier and crispier than traditional bacon.

Additionally, fatback bacon has a distinct flavor that is richer and more savory than other types of bacon. It is commonly used in Southern cooking to add flavor and juiciness to dishes such as greens and stews.

Fatback bacon can also be used as an ingredient in charcuterie, where it is cured with salt and smoked to create a delicious and flavorful addition to any meat platter. Its high fat content also makes it ideal for rendering into lard, which can be used for cooking and frying.

How To Cook And Use Fatback Bacon In Your Kitchen

If you’re interested in cooking with fatback bacon, there are many ways to incorporate it into your dishes. Here are some tips on how to cook and use fatback bacon in your kitchen:

1. Slicing: If you have a thick slab of fatback, first cut it into small slices. This will make it easier to cook and incorporate into your dishes.

2. Boiling: If you want to reduce the salty taste, you can boil the fatback before cooking it. However, if you prefer the original salty flavor, you may skip this step.

3. Frying: Take a pan or skillet and put it on medium flame. Now put the fatback into the pan. It is already high in fat content, so you don’t have to add any oil or greasing. Cook on both sides for about 3 minutes each. It will darken, and the edges will curl up; that’s when you know the fatback is ready. Turn off the flame and place the fatback on a paper towel to absorb extra oil.

4. Flavoring: Fatback bacon can be added to almost any dish involving sausages, meatballs, meatloaf, or grounded meat. It adds moisture and juiciness to the dish apart from adding a unique flavor.

5. Traditional dishes: Fatback bacon is commonly used in American southern and soul food to flavor greens, beans, and other typically bland vegetables. It can also be served fried as a sandwich filler or as a type of finger food.

6. Hungarian cuisine: In Hungary, fatback bacon is commonly fried and eaten with eggs for breakfast or dinner.

7. Crackling: Fatback bacon can be sliced thinly into strips and fried until crisp and golden brown, similar to cracklings in southern American cuisine.

8. Cooking oil: Many cooks render the fat to create a cooking oil or to add a slight hint of bacon flavor to biscuits.

The Rise Of Fatback Bacon In Charcuterie And Pastry

In recent years, fatback bacon has become increasingly popular in the world of charcuterie and pastry. This is due in part to its unique flavor and texture, which can add depth and richness to a variety of dishes.

One popular use of fatback bacon is in the preparation of sausages and other cured meats. The high fat content of fatback makes it an ideal ingredient for adding moisture and flavor to these types of dishes. It can also be ground or finely chopped and used as a filling for pâtés and other savory pastries.

In addition to its use in charcuterie, fatback bacon has also found its way into the world of pastry. When rendered, the fat from fatback can be used as a substitute for butter or other fats in pastry recipes, adding a unique flavor and richness to baked goods.

Exploring The Health Benefits And Nutritional Value Of Fatback Bacon

Despite its high fat content, fatback bacon actually offers a number of health benefits and nutritional value. One serving of fatback bacon contains 140 calories, 15 grams of fat, and 3 grams of protein. It is also low in carbohydrates, with 0 grams of sugar and dietary fiber.

While fatback bacon does contain saturated fat and cholesterol, it is important to note that not all types of fat are created equal. In fact, recent studies have shown that consuming healthy fats, such as those found in fatback bacon, can actually have a positive impact on overall health.

For example, fatback bacon is a great source of vitamin D, which is essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth. In fact, one tablespoon of fatback bacon contains 1,000 IUs of vitamin D, making it the second highest food source after cod liver oil.

In addition to vitamin D, fatback bacon also contains other important nutrients such as iron and calcium. These nutrients are essential for maintaining healthy blood cells and strong bones.

Furthermore, unlike other types of oils that can become destabilized at high temperatures and become a cancer risk, pork fat in general is heat stable. This means that it is a healthier option for cooking at high temperatures compared to other oils.

Where To Find And Buy Fatback Bacon: Tips And Recommendations

If you’re interested in trying fatback bacon, there are several places where you can find and purchase it. One option is to visit a local butcher shop, where you may be able to find fresh fatback that can be sliced and prepared to your liking.

Another option is to look for fatback bacon at your local grocery store. While it may not be as readily available as traditional bacon, some specialty stores or meat markets may carry it. You can also check online retailers or specialty food websites that offer a wide variety of pork products.

When purchasing fatback bacon, it’s important to pay attention to the quality of the product. Look for bacon that is fresh and has a good amount of fat on it. Avoid any bacon that appears discolored or has a strong odor, as this may indicate spoilage.

It’s also important to store fatback bacon properly to ensure its freshness and quality. If you’re not planning on using it right away, consider freezing it until you’re ready to use it. When thawing the bacon, be sure to do so slowly in the refrigerator to prevent any bacterial growth.

In terms of cooking with fatback bacon, there are endless possibilities. You can use it as a substitute for traditional bacon in recipes like soups, stews, and casseroles, or simply fry it up and enjoy it on its own.