A traditional English breakfast just isn't the same without traditional British back bacon. Like the rest of the planet, the British love bacon, but only in Great Britain is bacon a centuries old tradition, the history of bacon involves ancient genetic pig bloodlines specific to a region, specific cuts of pork and traditional methods of smoking the bacon.
The term 'Back Bacon' refers to a very specific cut of bacon and only vaguely to the part of the pig the pork is cut from, which is not at helpful if you need to know exactly how to cut traditional British Back Bacon.
When describing back bacon, it is helpful to describe the cut as a mixture of American bacon and Canadian bacon.
The streaky bacon that the Americans love is pork 'belly' cut from the fat streaked padding on the side of the pig, in the USA this kind of bacon is practically part of their staple diet and a national obsession. Americans love bacon, but we feel that they take the fast food approach to producing bacon.
In Canada they do things slightly more to our British tastes. They typically make their bacon from the loin of the pig, the loin is a lean medallion of meat containing little fat and providing glorious rounded slices of lean bacon which, although very tasty, falls short of what bacon can be when at its best.
British back bacon is a combination of both pork belly and pork loin in one beautiful cut, the rounded lean bit on a rasher (slice) of back bacon is the pork loin and the fatty streaky bit attached to it is the pork belly.
The British do bacon right because we slice the meat properly so that rashers (slices) of bacon include belly and loin in one beautiful piece of meat to create an irresistible and unforgettable bacon experience honed by centuries of practice.
A rasher (slice) of British back bacon absolutely needs to contain both pork belly and pork loin in order to even be considered suitable for a traditional full English breakfast, the combination of the two different pieces of pork, each with its own characteristics, blend to create bacon heaven and nobody does this cut quite as well as the British.
In Great Britain we have bred pigs for centuries that are bred specifically for the purpose in order to produce perfect back bacon cuts (and the perfect British sausage), elevating the production of bacon into an art form.
The the Yorkshire and Tamworth pig breeds are bred specifically for bacon and referred to as 'bacon breeds'.
Back bacon is not just about the cut of the meat, its also about the genetic lineage of the pig and arguably when it comes to the history of making bacon, the most blue-blooded of all bacon lineages come from England, with its centuries old history of breeding lines of pig specifically to make what the world now calls back bacon.
Analysis of DNA samples indicate that in Great Britain we produce our bacon using breeds of pig that have a regionally unique genetic lineage, one which is genetically very different from the Asian or American boar.
Other parts of the world with a history of indigenous wild boar populations produced their own genetically unique breeds of domesticated pig and therefore use a different kind of pork to make their bacon, this contributes to the reasons why bacon can taste and look so differently in other parts of the world.
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Author : Guise Bule
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