Pork Belly vs Bacon: Which is Better?

In the culinary world, bacon is a favorite of many people. Its salty, smoky taste has caused it to become more popular in recent years with chefs and consumers alike.

Pork belly on the other hand is slightly less well known than its counterpart but in some circles, it is just as loved.

In this post, we will explore their differences and similarities and answer the question: Which one should you buy?

What is Pork Belly?

Pork belly is cut from the sides and belly of a pig. It can also come from a hog, but it’s not as common. The pork belly is the layer of fat that has been naturally connected to the loin in a pig.

Pork belly is a cut of meat that comes from the pig’s abdomen and contains both the skin and fat. Pork belly was a popular food during times of need, as it can be slow-cooked for a long period of time without the meat drying out.

Today, pork belly is used to make bacon, but it can also be roasted or fried. It is a very versatile meat, and it’s high in protein.

The pork belly is often roasted or boiled in saltwater brine in order to preserve the meat and add flavoring. When shopping for pork belly, look for meat that is white with patches of pink from fat rendering.

How to Prepare Pork Belly for Cooking?

There are many ways to prepare pork belly for cooking purposes. One way would be to fry it, whether in a pan or in the oven at high temperatures on a wire rack or roasting pan on an oven tray.

You can also roast it instead of frying it, but you will need to add liquid such as water or broth. You can also choose to braise it or cook it in a slow cooker.

Pork belly can add that rich flavor your dish needs without being too overpowering and has been used by some cultures around the world such as East Asian ones like China or the Philippines.

What is Bacon?

Bacon is a cured meat that is made from the belly, usually taken from a pig. The pork is rubbed with salt and spices before being coated in strips of wet and dry cure and hung to cure, or smoked and allowed to dry for days or weeks before eating.

Bacon is often considered to be less healthy than pork belly. However, if you don’t properly cook it the fat and muscles will seize up which gives off a rubbery texture rather than what’s expected soft/tender meat with pinkish coloration on its surface.

The bacon we eat today comes from pigs that have been domesticated since the time of the Roman Empire.

Bacon can be made from the pork belly or pork loin. It has been popular since Roman times when they used to cure slices of this part with saltpeter, making them last longer without spoiling.

In the 20th century, people began to smoke bacon with wood. This gave it a smoky taste and allowed them to retain its pink color when cooked.

How to Prepare Bacon for Cooking?

To prepare bacon for cooking, you need to first remove the rind. Place the bacon in a dish and cover it with cold water. Some say that if you peel off some of the thicker layers of fat before soaking, you will get crisper bacon.

Soak the bacon for about 15 minutes, then drain and pat it dry. Next, you will need to cut your bacon into serving sizes or strips. You can fry or bake your bacon depending on what you are using it for.

While bacon can be smoked after being cut, it needs to go through strict curing as well as smoking processes that take time which changes its texture drastically in ways we’re all familiar with just by tasting these meats.

Pork Belly and Bacon Comparison Table

Pork BellyBacon
Cut of meatThe underside of the pig (the belly)Pork belly, cheeks, shoulder, back, or loin
How is it sold?A large slab of raw meatThin slices of cured meat
AdditivesNothing addedSodium and preservatives
Cooking methodRost, braise, boil, BBQ, deep fry, pressure cookerBBQ, fry, broil
Skill level to cookIntermediateNovice

What are the Main Differences Between Pork Belly and Bacon?

Pork belly is a softer, less processed meat than bacon. It can be cooked using many recipes that call for pork and has become more popular as people seek out healthier meats without added preservatives or sodium nitrites.

For bacon, they would cure it with saltpeter to preserve it from molding too quickly during longer periods of time on-site away from refrigeration facilities.

Buying Recommendations

The color of the pork is an important factor when it comes to buying a good piece. A clear flesh, slightly pink, and pearly tone should be on your menu if you want great tasting food with tender juicy meat – all qualities that are necessary for making delicious pulled pork.

A good slice will have clear flesh with slightly pink undertones. It should be firm but flexible on contact.

Conclusion

Pork belly and bacon are both a type of pork meat, but they have some key differences. Bacon is usually sold in thin slices because it’s been preserved through curing.

Pork belly can be found in large slabs raw or precooked before being cut more appropriately for consumption.