What’s Streaky Bacon? The Complete Guide

Bacon is a beloved breakfast staple that comes in many different forms, from crispy American bacon to chewy British rashers.

But have you ever heard of streaky bacon?

This type of bacon is a favorite among bacon enthusiasts and is often used to wrap around sausages during the holidays.

But what exactly is streaky bacon, and how is it different from other types of bacon?

In this article, we’ll dive into the world of streaky bacon, exploring its origins, production process, and unique characteristics.

So sit back, relax, and get ready to learn all about this delicious and versatile cut of pork.

What’s Streaky Bacon?

Streaky bacon, also known as side bacon, is a type of bacon that comes from the pork belly. Unlike back bacon, which is produced using pork loin, streaky bacon is made from the fattier part of the pig.

One of the defining characteristics of streaky bacon is its long layers of fat that run parallel to the rind. This gives it a distinctively “streaky” appearance and texture.

Streaky bacon is often injected with a mixture containing salt and sodium nitrate to cure it. However, it can also be dry cured with a dry rub or left to marinate in a curing solution.

After being cured, the bacon is then smoked, if required, and sliced thinly. Thanks to its high fat content, streaky bacon crisps up well when cooked, making it ideal for crispy bacon sandwiches or as a topping for burgers.

The Origins Of Streaky Bacon

The history of streaky bacon can be traced back thousands of years to ancient China, where pork bellies were cured with salt to create an early form of bacon. However, pigs were domesticated in China as early as 4900 B.C., and were also being raised in Europe by 1500 B.C.

It is speculated that the Romans and Greeks learned bacon production and curing through conquests in the Middle East, and improved pig breeding and spread pork production throughout their empire.

Streaky bacon is a common form of bacon in the United States, and is often referred to as side bacon due to its origin from the pork belly. It is very fatty with long layers of fat running parallel to the rind, giving it a distinct appearance and texture.

In modern England, a side of bacon is called a “gammon” and a thin slice of bacon is known as a “rasher”. The inclusion of skin with a cut of bacon, known as the ‘bacon rind’, varies, though is less common in the English-speaking world.

How Streaky Bacon Is Produced

Streaky bacon is produced using pork belly, which is first cured with a mixture of salt and sodium nitrate. This mixture is injected into the meat, or the bacon can be dry cured with a dry rub or marinated in a curing solution. The curing process helps to preserve the meat and give it flavor.

After the curing process, the bacon is then smoked, which enhances its flavor and helps to preserve it even further. The smoking process can take several hours, depending on the desired intensity of flavor.

Once the smoking process is complete, the bacon is sliced thinly and packaged for sale. Due to its high fat content, streaky bacon crisps up well when cooked, making it a popular choice for breakfast sandwiches and burgers.

The Unique Characteristics Of Streaky Bacon

Streaky bacon is known for its high fat content, which gives it a rich and savory flavor. The layers of fat that run through the meat also contribute to its unique texture, making it crispy when cooked.

Unlike back bacon, which is leaner and has less fat, streaky bacon is often used as a flavor enhancer in dishes that require a strong and distinctive taste. It pairs well with most dishes that can accommodate its strong flavor and firm texture.

Streaky bacon is also versatile in terms of how it can be prepared. It can be cured using a variety of methods, including injection with a curing solution, dry rub, or marination. This allows for different levels of saltiness and flavor to be achieved.

When smoked, streaky bacon takes on a smoky flavor that complements its natural richness. It can be smoked using different types of wood, such as hickory or applewood, to achieve different levels of smokiness.

Cooking With Streaky Bacon: Tips And Recipes

If you’re looking to add some delicious streaky bacon to your meals, there are a variety of ways to cook with it. Here are some tips and recipes to get you started:

1. Baking: As mentioned above, baking streaky bacon is a great way to get it perfectly crispy every time. Simply preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C), line a baking tray with parchment paper, and place the bacon side-by-side on the tray. Cook for 10 to 20 minutes or until it’s reached your desired level of crispiness.

2. Pan-frying: Another popular method for cooking streaky bacon is pan-frying. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and add your bacon, cooking until crispy on both sides. Be sure to drain any excess fat from the pan as you cook.

3. Bacon slaw: For a tasty side dish or salad topping, try making warm bacon slaw. Cook 6 slices of thick-cut streaky bacon in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then drain and crumble. Add 1/2 sliced red onion, 1/4 cup each of cider vinegar and water, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of celery seeds to the drippings. Toss with 6 cups of shredded cabbage and the bacon.

4. Bacon Reuben: For a delicious twist on a classic sandwich, try making a Bacon Reuben. Spread Russian dressing on rye toast, top with Bacon Kraut (made by combining sauerkraut and cooked streaky bacon), and Swiss cheese. Broil until melted.

5. Bacon-Apple Sandwiches: For a sweet and savory sandwich, try making Bacon-Apple Sandwiches. Spread a split baguette with honey mustard, fill with cooked streaky bacon, sliced Brie and apple, and lettuce; add salt and pepper and slice.

6. Cobb Club: For a hearty sandwich option, try making a Cobb Club sandwich. Spread 3 slices of toast with soft blue cheese and mayonnaise, layer with grilled chicken, cooked streaky bacon, avocado, tomato, romaine, and hard-boiled egg to make a double-decker sandwich.

No matter how you choose to cook with it, streaky bacon is sure to add delicious flavor and texture to your meals. So next time you’re at the grocery store, consider picking up some streaky bacon to try out these recipes!

Streaky Bacon Vs. Other Types Of Bacon

When it comes to bacon, there are several different types to choose from, each with its own unique flavor and texture. While streaky bacon is a popular choice, it’s important to understand how it compares to other types of bacon.

One of the main differences between streaky bacon and other types of bacon is the cut of meat used. Streaky bacon comes from the pork belly, which is a fattier part of the pig. This makes it more flavorful and easier to crisp up when cooked.

In comparison, back bacon is produced using pork loin, which is a leaner cut of meat. This makes it less fatty and more tender than streaky bacon. Back bacon also has a rounder shape and is typically served in slices rather than strips.

Another type of bacon that’s gaining popularity is turkey bacon. As the name suggests, this type of bacon is made from turkey meat instead of pork. It’s leaner than both streaky and back bacon, making it a healthier option. However, some people find that it lacks the same depth of flavor as traditional bacon.

Ultimately, the type of bacon you choose will depend on your personal preferences and dietary needs. Streaky bacon is a popular choice for its rich flavor and crispy texture, but there are plenty of other options to explore as well.