Few of us can resist the temptation of bacon — did you know that it was the first meal eaten on the moon? Yup, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made sure to keep it “strictly American” out there.
Truth is, bacon may not be as old as the moon, but it does date back to roughly 1500 B.C.! There’s even an International Bacon Day where people from the whole world can enjoy different stripes of salty and crispy perfection.
Speaking of different stripes of bacon, did you know that American bacon is completely different from English bacon? That’s right. American bacon is a tasty piece of cured and smoked pig belly. English bacon is a lean, perfectly cured cut of pork loin and belly.
In this article, we want to explain what makes these two porky cuts so different, including which one is healthier, plus some tips & tricks on how to cook the best bacon!
Difference Between English Bacon and American Bacon
American bacon is a crispy, fat-spattered strip of pig belly, but British bacon, commonly referred to as rashers, is a chewier, thicker cut of pork loin and belly.
This is the primary distinction; however, there are others as well, as you might expect. From fat level to what type of pig each stripe comes from, there’s more than meets the eye (or palate). Let’s explain each difference below.
Origin: The history of English bacon may be traced back to the Middle English period, between the 11th and the 14th century. Bacon was first consumed in America in the 1600s as a result of British colonists bringing their pork products across.
Pig breed: When it comes to pig varieties, English bacon uses the Tamworth and Yorkshire pig breeds. In the 15th century, the British brought Tamworth pigs to America, and since then, it’s the only breed used to make American bacon.
Type of meat: English bacon must contain both the pork loin and the belly, guaranteeing a perfect ratio of fatty to lean protein. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, however, only classifies American bacon as a cut from the pig belly.
Preserving method: English bacon is only cured with the aim of preserving the meaty taste and offers more freedom for seasoning during cooking. American bacon is smoked in a variety of woods to give the meat its distinct smoky flavor. This explains why you just season American bacon with basic seasonings.
Shape: English bacon is usually cut in rectangular, oblong, or circular slices. American bacon, as we all know it, is distinguished by its thin, long rectangular strips.
Texture: English bacon is rich in loin, resulting in a tender and juicy mouthfeel. In contrast, American bacon is rich in fat. People frequently characterize American bacon as being crispy and smokey.
Flavor: English bacon has a flavor that is porky and salty, resembling grilled deli meat. American bacon, on the other hand, has a savory, pungent, and smoky flavor. Additionally, it has a sweet caramel flavor that English bacon lacks due to the smoking process.
English Bacon vs. American Bacon: Comparison Table
|Category||English Bacon||American Bacon|
|Origin||Between the 11th and 14th centuries||Introduced by the British colonists in the 1600s|
|Pig breed||Tamworth and Yorkshire pig breed||Tamworth pig breed, imported by the Brits|
|Pig cut||Pork loin and belly||Pork belly|
|Preserving method||Curing||Curing and smoking|
|Shape||Rectangular, oblong, or circular slices||Thin, long rectangular strips|
|Texture||Tender and juicy||Crispy and smoky|
|Flavor||Porky and salty||Savory and smoky|
Nutritional Content Breakdown: Which One Is Healthier?
English bacon only has one-third of the fat compared to American bacon, making it the healthier option.
Still, English or American, bacon is typically viewed as unhealthy if consumed in large quantities. Therefore, if you decide to indulge in this salty, porky delicacy, use it in moderation — no more than two strips every five to seven days.
To make healthier bacon, you need to be mindful of two steps:
- Step #1: Thoroughly paper drain it prior to cooking
- Step #2: Pan-fry it, so the majority of the fat melts off
A great way to incorporate English and American bacon into a healthy diet is to make a BLT — a salad with bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, corn, and goat cheese topped with a dressing of lemon zest, freshly squeezed lime, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and sugar.
English Bacon vs. American Bacon: Nutritional Profile
|Category (3 slices)||English Bacon||American Bacon|
|Vitamins & Minerals|
Can I Substitute English Bacon for American Bacon & Vice Versa?
Yes, you can totally substitute English bacon for American bacon and vice versa. Both of them are porky, salty, and fatty; however, keep in mind that American bacon’s got that little smoky kick that English bacon lacks.
But don’t worry, because you can always smoke your English bacon in the oven! All you need is a pan, rack, aluminum foil, and wood chips. Hickory chips give the bacon a rich, smoky taste that we enjoy, but apple wood is also a fantastic alternative if you prefer a lighter, sweeter flavor.
Common Mistakes When Cooking Bacon
Your favorite English or American breakfast may be cooked incorrectly for a number of reasons, such as the sort of pan you’re using or the temperature of the skillet! Here are all the things you’re doing wrong with bacon and how to fix them.
Mistake #1: You are cooking refrigerated bacon on a super hot pan.
Refrigerated bacon will have a sticky feel if you put it directly into an oven on high heat. Cook it in a pan over medium-low heat for delightfully crisp pieces.
Mistake #2: You cook bacon in an aluminum pan.
There are some pans that are better than others for frying bacon. Aluminum pans have a propensity for uneven and rapid heating. That’s why you should always opt for an iron pan, which has a hefty bottom and distributes heat evenly throughout.
Mistake #3: You don’t cook bacon in water.
Water is the key to tender and moist bacon. Water helps the meat maintain its moisture and tenderness. When the bacon has reached a boiling point, lower the heat to medium and wait for the water to absorb fully. Then lower the heat to medium-low and cook until crispy and brown.
Mistake #4: You are cooking too many bacon strips at once.
Despite the fact that cooking many bacon strips at once can be quicker, doing so is a surefire way to wind up with limp and soggy bacon. If you want the fat to drain out and the bacon to crisp up, you need to separate each strip by one inch.
The Breakfast Battle: English vs. American
Who makes a better bacon breakfast: the Americans or the Brits?
English breakfast is a filling meal that consists of sunny-side-up eggs, beans, sausages, bacon, roasted tomatoes and mushrooms, toast, and black pudding. English breakfast is usually enjoyed with a cup of black tea or coffee.
On the other side of the continent, American breakfast is made of either sunny-side-up, scrambled, or eggs in the form of an omelet, accompanied by some bacon, toast, American pancakes, and cereal. This breakfast is usually served with coffee, juice, or milk.
Both American and English breakfast are delicious foods in their own special ways. They are also incredibly filling and will undoubtedly keep you full until lunch, maybe even longer.
In terms of nutritional value, the English way is the healthier way. English breakfast has 895 calories per serving, compared to 1510 calories in American breakfast. Either way, both breakfasts are calorically dense, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat yourself on a beautiful Sunday morning.
Congrats! You’ve learned all the differences between English and American bacon. You are now ready to celebrate International Bacon Day in true bacon style!
To sum up: English bacon is a healthier and leaner slice of pork loin and belly. American bacon is more flavorful but higher in sodium. You can substitute one for the other, but make sure you enjoy them in moderate amounts.
That’s all! Now pick your preferred breakfast — English or American — follow our cooking tips, and surprise your loved ones with your newly found knowledge and cooking skills!