How to make the perfect bacon sandwich
Cuts of bacon
We're spoilt for choice when it comes to bacon cuts. Back rashers are versatile, tasting great grilled, fried or baked, while streaky rashers are an economical cut with thin layers of fat that crisp up brilliantly. Fore hock and gammon hock are ideal for slow-cooking in casseroles and soups, and middle rashers, with their mix of streaky and back rasher cuts, are perfect for indecisive types. Watch out for the Red Tractor logo for bacon that's traceable by country and farm.
How to cook bacon: grilling v frying
"Sometimes we put bacon on the chargrill, but you've got to make sure it doesn't dry out," says Jason King who runs the Michelin-recommended Wellington Arms in Hampshire. "A really nice way of doing it, is just sticking it under the grill. Put it on a baking rack, so it's not getting soggy underneath, and then just flip it over."
Smoking is more of a finishing process for bacon, rather than a curing process, with various types of smoke used from cherry and applewood to hickory and oak. "Smoking increases the saltiness of the bacon a tiny bit," says Tim Wilson, owner of The Ginger Pig butchers. "As the bacon is hanging in the smoke room, it dries it a little bit more and the saltiness is intensified."
You can take bacon up a notch with a distinctive cure. Dry-cured rashers (cured using salt) make great bacon butties, while sweet-cured bacon (usually cured using muscovado, demerara or molasses), is delicious as an add-in ingredient with pasta, chicken or as a pizza topping. For all-out indulgence, maple cure is a must-have match for American waffles or pancakes. Are you drooling yet?
Things to watch out for
If you get white residue leaking out of your bacon as you're cooking it, it's a sign that it's been wet-cured. Known as 'white exudate', this residue is usually a mix of water, salt and sometimes preservatives that the bacon has either been soaked in, or injected with. If you want to avoid it, Keith Fisher, Baconologist for Bacon Connoisseurs' Week, recommends choosing traditional cures like Wiltshire cure or dry-cure instead.
Deb Perelman, Flickr, Getty Images
What makes the perfect bacon sarnie?
Tim Wilson goes for plain streaky bacon in his perfect bacon sandwich, giving the smoked stuff a miss. "If you've got a piece of bacon that's really well cured - proper dry-cured bacon, where you're actually tasting the saltiness of the pork - it's a shame to smoke it," he says. "If you use streaky, it's got nice layers of fat running through it. Another thing which really makes a bacon sandwich fantastic is to put a fried egg in it."
"You've got to use white bread," he adds. "Commercial white bread, and it's got to be that sort of real basic white bread. Not sourdough or all those things - just proper workman's bread. Dip the bread into the bacon fat, and that's it - fantastic!"
Clever bacon tricks
Jason King raises his own pigs at the Wellington Arms and uses them in all sorts of ways on his menu. As well as braising bacon chops with cannellini beans for a robust flavour-packed dish, Jason has a killer trick with bacon.
"The best thing we do is take dry-cure bacon, slice it and sprinkle it with brown sugar, layer it up and leave it in the fridge for a couple of days," he says. "When you seal it under the grill, you get that caramel-bacon flavour, which is really, really good."
A lot of love for bacon
"The bacon sandwich is one of the western world's greatest triumphs," says MasterChef presenter Gregg Wallace. Al Murray, The Pub Landlord has more praise for the cheeky rasher of bacon: "Bacon is the greatest hangover cure known to man, a veritable miracle food," he says. "The smell of it alone proves that aromatherapy isn't all witless, wishful bull****." Yep, just what we were thinking.
Ketchup v brown sauce?
"We cure bacon at The Ginger Pig, so I always like to taste the bacon to make sure it's worked," says Tim Wilson. "But, I have to say every so often (and it's almost like you're doing something naughty), if there's no-one about, I do actually get tomato ketchup out!"
Bacon Connoisseurs' Week 2012, running from 19-25 March, is a celebration of great quality Red Tractor Bacon. For details, visit lovepork.co.uk.
How do you rustle up your bacon at home? Do you use a frying pan so you can mop up the bacon fat, or grill your bacon for a crisp finish? Let us know in the comments section below...
Joe - Lot's of animals are apparently "intelligent" yet still get eaten, what is your point? Animals eat animals - they don't have concepts of morality otherwise all the Lions would be dead because it's wrong and cruel to eat a Gazelle. Trying to scare people with a heart attack for eating a bacon sarnie is a bit naughty, like me scaring you saying be careful you don't get hit by a bus on your way home.
sam milnes your an idiot.
People who eat bacon sandwiches are evil are they? no the guy who has killed all of them people in france is evil.
i eat bacon sandwiches, i have also helped build schools in countries that have be torn apart by wars and help give out aid in many countries. what have you done with your higher than thou morals except to call good people Evil
grilled - perfect, fried -perfect, dip in the fat off the bacon -perfect, dry cure is -perfect
but best off all eat in peace not a MUSLIM to be seen-PERFECT
Great article. Nothing like a good bacon sarnie!
Can't believe some people posted about bacon causing heart attacks. What a load of clap-trap! Never heard such nonsense in my life. As long as it's good quality then bacon is perfectly healthy - in fact positively good for you. Of course if you purchase rubbish that's full of nitrates then maybe (just maybe) it isn't so great but generally, it's tasty and healthy!
A question for Sam Milnes.
Can you tell the rest of us bacon lovers why you believe such obvious nonsense.
Bacon is one of the best delicacies to have come out of Britain. Whether dry cured or not, grilling to give a little charring to the fat adds immeasurably to the experience. Better still, if you can source 'proper' bacon with the rind still attached, this process can produce a kind of 'mini-crackling'.
Streaky or middle cut (back and streaky in one) run less risk of drying out than lean back. 'Ayrshire roll' is also a fantastic cut.
As to the photo shown of a 'bacon sandwich', when are we ever going to get away from the mentality that all food must be presented in silly looking 'towers'? A true bacon sandwich is simply properly cooked bacon lodged between two buttered doorsteps, white by preference. Sauce can be added to taste.
REALLY THIS GOVERMENT HAVE GOT YOU SO CURLED UP TIGHT LIKE A SPRING THAT YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN TO JUST LIVE YOUR LIFE, AND STOP TRYING TO CONTROL EVERY SINGLE THING YOU DO.
MMMMMM BACON BUTTY ,,,, YES PLEASE AND PROUD OF IT. NEVER DID ME ANY HARM OR MY FAMILY.
5 A DAY NO THANKS, I DONT EVEN KNOW ANYONE WHO LIVES LIKE THAT.
I JUST EAT ME FOOD THAT,S GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME PAL, I DONT NEED YOUR HGIH MORALLISING TO LIVE FREE, I AM FREE SO YOU CAN TAKE YOU SILLY POWDERS IN A TUB AND YOUR SILLY WATER BOTTLES AND PROTIEN NONSENSE AND STICK EMM WHERE THE SUN DOES,NT SHINE OH HANG YOU DO HHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEEEEE HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.
MUSCLES BAH HUM BUG, ITS ALL A BLOOD A SHOW WITH YOU PEOPLE, YOU CANT EVEN MAKE DECISIONS YOUR THAT MESSED UP. YOU EVEN RELY ON OTHERS TO LIVE ITS THAT BAD, JUST GET ON WITH IT, STOP YORU STRESSING AND MOANING.
NEVER HEARD OF ANYONE DIEING FORM EATING A BACON BUTTY, WE EAT THEM ALL THE TIME AT WORK AND HAVE BEEN FOR YEARS, AND WE ARE DOING ALRIGHT.
YOU SEE THIS FITNESS THING, IE IS JUST INCREASING MUSCLE SIZE THAT IS ALL, BUT DID YOU STOP TO THINK WHAT ITS DOING TO YOUR SPINE AND JOINTS AND ELBOWS AND YOU CAN END UP WITH ARTHRITUS ALSO.
I KNOW SOME ONE WHO DID JOGGING FOR A LOT OF YEARS, NOW HE HAS BAD KNEES AND OPERATIONS BECAUSE THE JOINTS HAS WORN OUT, SIMPLE AS ARE ONLY FLUIDS AND BONES PEOPLE NOT METAL AND STUFF.
JUST LIVE PEOPLE, JUST LIVE YOU LIFE, YOU ARE ALL GOING DIE AFTER ALL, YOU CANT BEAT THE CLOCK SO YOU MIGHT AS WELL SPEND YOUR TIME ENJOYING LIFE INSTEAD OF TRING TO BEAT IT, BECAUSE I GOT NEWS FOR YA, YOU CANT AND YOU WONT, BECAUSE THAT IS TEH CYCLE OF LIFE THAT IS HOW IT WORKS.
JUST SINGING A SONG AS IM WALKING ALONG AS TIME GOES BY, CHEER UP YOU MISERABLE GITS, ENJOY YOUR SELF, BECAUSE LIFES IS A PIECE OF **** WHEN YOU LOOK AT IT, ITS TRUE.