Pork Belly vs. Bacon: Is It The Same?

Here, we answer this tricky question, explaining the difference and sharing amazing recipes for you to try out.
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Last updatedLast updated: October 14, 2021
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Two things are enough to make a kitchen smell good: bacon or pork belly and onions. We can’t teach you much about onions, but we have a lot to tell you about bacon. Have you ever wondered what the difference is between the various types of bacon? And we’re not talking about pieces or cubes. Not even slices. Do you know the difference between bacon and pork belly? If not, just read on.

In this pork belly vs bacon comparison article, we’ll see the differences between these portions of the pig. First, we will help you understand what a slice of pork bacon and a pork belly is and tell you the main differences between them. Also, we will tell you how to cook these pork parts and recommendations on buying.

Basics of Pork Belly and Bacon Cuts

Many people mix the pork belly with the bacon or use the terms interchangeably. This is why we need to clear the confusion first.

Pork Belly Cut

Pork Belly vs. Bacon: Is It The Same?

A pork belly cut is that boneless cut of fatty meat taken from the belly of a pig. The pork belly comes from one of the fatty parts of the pig. Its high-fat content gives it a lot of flavors, so much so that, by releasing the fat, it manages to soak up any dish with a delicious flavor.

When cured with salt, the pork belly is then known as pancetta or pancetta arrotolata, which is often used as a garnish or can also be broiled in a hot oven.

Bacon Cut

Pork Belly vs. Bacon: Is It The Same?

Bacon usually comes from the flank (belly) of the pork. When it is taken from the chest (the pectoral part of the flank), it is leaner. There is also something called back bacon, also known as Canadian bacon. It’s a leaner cut that looks more like ham than bacon. From jerky to avocado fries, bacon can be used to make a lot of recipes.

Even the great chefs use bacon in all sauces: from savory dishes to sweet dishes. The refrigerated counter at the grocery store also offers a wide range of products.

But what is bacon? When you look at packages of bacon at the grocery store, you see that some will have more marked white fat bands than others.

It is very interesting to know that when it comes to artisanal bacon, this famous white layer will often look much larger, but it is not fat but rather meat. And it is the absence of nitrite which gives this whitish color.

Note that when you cook bacon, you lose almost 70% of its starting weight and fat in water.

The pre-cooked bacon has the advantage of not being long to cook and means losing less fat, having already seen a loss in first cooking made by the industry. On the other hand, it has the disadvantage of being more expensive.

What Is the Difference?

The pork belly has a broader meaning than the bacon. The bacon includes two classes: the lean pieces of the bacon and the fattiest of the bacon itself. Therefore, we would find it in an intermediate point of fat proportion. In addition, this term, on many occasions, refers to the raw or unprocessed piece and, in this way, it is considered “bacon,” in case it is subjected to smoking, curing, and/or slicing.

For this same reason, pork belly is considered of higher quality since the meat is fresher, either natural or in the marinade. Bacon comes from pork belly. But at the time of its preparation is when the first difference occurs, since the belly refers to the natural or raw state, while the bacon is smoked.

With bacon, the meat is first salted, then dried, and finally, it is often smoked. The bacon slices look a bit like very flat pork chops. It doesn’t surprise you, of course, when you know what part of the pork it is. The small fatty edge gives the bacon its characteristic delicious taste. Bacon tastes even better when cooked in pork fat.

The Best Ways to Cook Pork Belly

There are plenty of ways to cook delicious pork belly, of course. Below, there are the recipes of roasted and grilled pork belly we picked.

Pork Belly with a Raspberry Sauce

Pork Belly vs. Bacon: Is It The Same?

In this tutorial, we’ll give you a full recipe of how to cook a delicious pork belly with a raspberry sauce.

Total time: 147min

Preparation: 15min

Cooking: 70min

Wait time: 60min

Serve: 2min

Difficulty: Intermediate

Ingredients

4.4 pounds of pork belly

5 sprigs of fresh and leafless thyme

2 sprigs of rosemary fresh and leafless

2 tablespoons of paprika

3 tablespoons garlic that is finely chopped

1/4 cup of corn oil

6 tablespoons of seasoning sauce

3 tablespoons of English Sauce

2 cups of raspberries

3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

2 chipotles of marinated peppers

1 clove of garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt with garlic powder

1/2 cup of honey

Instructions

  1. Prepare your gas grill for direct and indirect medium heat (350ºF to 450ºF).
  2. With the help of a knife, make some horizontal and vertical cuts on the bacon fat to form squares, without reaching the base. Many pitmasters recommend the Napoleon 70039 as it comes with a premium cutting board and a multiple knife set.
  3. Mix the thyme, rosemary, paprika, 3 tablespoons garlic, ¼ cup oil, seasoning sauce, and English Sauce. One of the best seasonings for rubbing pork is the McCormick Smokehouse Maple Seasoning. It adds mesquite and flavorful taste to the pork.
  4. Place the meat in a baking dish, pour the previous mixture, cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  5. For the sauce, blend the raspberries with the vinegar, the chilies, 1 clove of garlic, the garlic salt, and the honey. Then, strain. Heat sauce until slightly thickened, stirring constantly.
  6. In a hot pan, fry the bacon on both sides until it’s lightly browned. Next, place on a tray and cover with aluminum foil. Smoke at 356°F for 40 to 45 minutes, remove the aluminum foil, apply a little of the sauce, and smoke for 20 to 25 more minutes or until the meat is cooked.

Slow-Roasted Pork Belly

The Best Way to Cook Bacon

Here, we leave a simple recipe to prepare Bacon. The recipe is for 2.25 pounds of bacon, but you can even make 50 pounds of bacon, increasing the ingredients according to the corresponding proportions.

Ingredients

Cut of pork (bacon), 2.25 pounds

Ingredients of the preparation for salting

1 oz. fine salt

0.2 oz. sugar

0.1 oz. cure salt

0.1 oz. antioxidant

0.07 oz. MSG (Glutamate)

1 oz.  binder

0.1 oz. stabilizer

Instructions

  1. Pork Belly vs. Bacon: Is It The Same?Mix the ingredients for the preparation of the bacon and divide this mixture into two parts. Reserve one half for later.
  2. Pierce the meat with a fork evenly. Sprinkle the meat with the mixture on both sides.
  3. Using disposable gloves, vigorously rub the meat.
  4. Place the bacon in a plastic bag. Leave the mouth of the bag open and refrigerate at 57ºF for 4 days.
  5. After about 4 days have passed, remove the bacon from the bag and rub it with the second half of the mixture and refrigerate for 4 more days at 57ºF.
  6. After 8 days, remove the bacon from the bag and rinse with cold water for 20 minutes to remove excess salts on the surface.
  7. Place the bacon on a hook and dry in cool, dry air until it loses moisture.
  8. If you don’t like to cook bacon in a pan, it is possible (and less messy!) to cook it in the microwave, in the oven, or even on an electric girdle. Simply place the bacon between two sheets of paper towels (5 seconds per slice) or in the oven at 350°F on a rack on a baking sheet (10 to 15 minutes).

Buying Recommendations

First of all, you need to carefully consider the color of the pork. Indeed, it must have a clear flesh, slightly pink and pearly color.

Second, you should check the texture of the meat. A slice of good pork must be firm, but flexible to the touch. It is, therefore, necessary to avoid meats that are sticky on contact. Moreover, the meat you are going to choose must have a fine texture. In addition, you should choose meat that shows no excessive traces of moisture.

Regarding the fat on the meat, choose a piece that is firm and very white. However, it must also display certain flexibility to the touch. Of course, certain pieces of the pig stand out for their high-fat content and their meat well-marbled. Therefore, if you opt for these parts, pay special attention to their fat.

In any case, to guarantee a good nutritional balance, it is strongly recommended to bet on pork without covering fat. In addition, do not forget to remove the visible fat.

Final Thoughts

As we have already mentioned, both bacon and pork belly come from the same pork region, specifically from the belly and its fatter part. These two have many similarities, which is why they are easily confused.

In this pork belly vs bacon comparison article, we’ve done justice to the similarities and differences between the pork belly and the bacon.

The main difference is that bacon is cured, and smoked, while pork belly isn’t. The bacon is cured with salt and different types of spices to give it flavor. The bacon is smoked after being cured and it is a process that is carried out cold with different types of wood.

Pork belly and smoked bacon also differ in that pork belly is a much fresher product. The smoking process that bacon undergoes intensifies its flavor and reduces its freshness.

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