Bacon, including gammon
Bacon is a cut of meat taken from the sides, belly, or back of a pig, then cured, smoked, or both; it is an intrinsic element of a full English breakfast; bacon is high in protein but also fat.
The word evokes so much more than a dry description of the cured back and belly (that's the streaky bit) of a pig sliced and then fried for breakfast. Bacon can be cured either wet, by immersion in strongly salted water, or dry, by having plain salt or a mix of salt, sugar and spices rubbed in over a period of days. Smoking is not compulsory, though it is delicious (unsmoked bacon used to be called green bacon, though the term is losing currency). For the full breakfast character, a period of two or more weeks drying and maturing is essential. Collar bacon is, in fat to lean terms, halfway between back and streaky, but it comes from the shoulder meat and can have a slightly tougher texture.A bacon joint is a piece of cured pork, made with any cut of meat, unlike gammon. Correctly, gammon is the hind leg cut from a side of bacon after curing and traditionally the cure should be the mildest, but we are getting into the habit of calling any bacon joint suitable for boiling and baking a piece of gammon.PancettaPancetta is Italian cured streaky bacon, smoked or green (unsmoked), with a very fine concentrated flavour. Pancetta Coppata is unsmoked and rolled up with a bit of shoulder ham giving the round slices. I use this a lot as it gives a much deeper flavour than bacon – it’s fantastic in dishes like Spaghetti alla Carbonara. Supermarkets now sell the sliced pancetta and also small cubes. In an Italian deli you can buy it in one piece.
Serves 4 (with leftovers for over the Christmas holidays)
A wonderful centrepiece for Christmas, you can use a bacon joint or gammon for this recipe - packed with flavour and the best crackling ever!
Serve this hot on a cold winter's day with some buttery jacket potatoes or, if the weather is warm, it's lovely served cold with salads and chutney or pickles.
This is a great way to serve celery as a vegetable. I used silicone paper (baking parchment) for this as it looks very pretty if you take the whole parcel to the table – otherwise foil would do. For 4 to 6 people, you can double the ingredients...
This goes very well with some basmati rice cooked with onion, or else with some very creamy mashed potato.
If you like lots of gutsy flavour in food, you'll like this recipe, which should be made with the very best olive oil and served with lots of fresh Parmesan.