Much mud has been slung at the rep of the honest rasher in recent years, but we are here to clear things up for good. This is your guide to elevating your little piggy’s health credentials. Time to get crackling
MH is bringing home the bacon with our guide to making sliced pork a fitness staple
01 New pork state of mind
To paraphrase young internet sensation King Curtis: bacon is good for you (albeit in moderation). So if you’re going to make it count then you’d better make sure you’re buying the special stuff. “There’s an enormous difference between high- quality bacon and the cheaper supermarket offerings, which can be dyed or filled with water,” says Tim Wilson of esteemed butchers The Ginger Pig. If you know your cuts and your sources, a bacon sarnie can deliver meaty benefits.
02 In hog we trust
“Avoid vacuum-packs like the plague,” says Wilson. An investigation by consumer bible Which? found that the water content of some bacon on British supermarket shelves was up to 13% – over the 10% maximum allowed. “There’s no substitute for talking to a specialist butcher,” he adds. “But if you are buying from a supermarket, get the dry stuff from the meat counter. It costs more, but you won’t be paying for liquid.” When cooking, Wilson recommends tossing the traditional tongs in favour of a thin fish slice (£ 4 prestige.co.uk) to avoid tearing more delicate cuts. For making surgically precise incisions that run the length of butcher-bought bacon chops or gammon joints , you can’t do better than the purposebuilt Wüsthof Classic Granton Ham Slicer (£ 79 knivesandtools.co.uk). And finally, a cast-iron, heat-retaining, thick-based pan from Staub (£ 139 staub- online.com) proves that a flat bottom can be a good thing – in this context, at least – by ensuring crisp fat and an even cook on every single sweet, sweet rasher.
03 Fat of the pan
Fat is what makes bacon so lip-smackingly delicious, but it’s also what puts some people off. Fear not. Nutritional experts have dispensed with outmoded notions that ‘all fat is the enemy’. In fact, the monounsaturated fat – which accounts for half the fat in bacon – reduces blood pressure and your risk of heart disease. So don’t be afraid to cook your rashers in their own juices. You can always trim the fatty edges afterwards, says Wilson, who advises frying over grilling. Now follow these recipes to really bring home the bacon.
This Italian cut of pork belly is streaks ahead of most supermarket fare in terms of taste. It’s also rich in selenium, which is an essential mineral for thyroid function, as well as boosting immunity and reducing your cancer risk. Bueno! B GREEN BACON So called because of its greenish nitrate burn at the edges, this unsmoked meat remains largely pink thanks to the saltpetre used when curing. It also packs a porky protein-filled punch with 5g of muscle fuel in each rasher. C TREACLE- CURED As the name suggests, this comes with a bit of extra sugar. Thankfully it’s also a top source of coenzyme Q10, which supports metabolism. According to Kyoto University, a few breakfast slices will fire up morning fat-burning sessions. All gammon is ham, but not all ham is gammon. To earn its name, this leg cut must be salted on the bone. It’s also high in phosphorous, which is crucial for kidney function. A good reason to pig out the morning after the night before. D GAMMON A PANCETTA