Are you seeing the bacon? Maybe you’re not looking closely enough! Introducing you to the wonderful world of bacon rashers.
Bacon rashers. Bacon… rashers? Yes, bacon rashers!
Unless you were born and raised in the United Kingdom, or you have at least lived there for a while, these two words won’t mean much to you when spelled together.
If we were to take this question lightly, we would give you the rasher definition from the dictionary (according to Merriam-Webster, a rasher is “a thin slice of bacon or ham broiled or fried”), spend a few paragraphs blabbering on about it, and then invite you to subscribe to our newsletter… because why wouldn’t you? Right?!
But you’re at Home Cook World, and we’re better than that. We don’t take reader questions lightly, and our answers won’t lull you to sleep the moment you start reading them on your phone in bed at night.
So let’s waste no more time with introductions and help you get to the meat of it.
American Bacon vs. British Bacon
To give you the long story short, a bacon rasher is a strip of British bacon.
“So far,” you’re probably thinking, “so good.” But the thing, you see, is that what the English call bacon isn’t necessarily what Americans call bacon. And vice versa.
Just take a look at the illustration below and you’ll see what I’m talking about:
Yep. American bacon and British bacon are simply not the same things.
American, a.k.a. streaky, bacon:
In the United States, bacon is the cured and smoked meat from the back (back bacon) and the belly of the pig (bacon… you know, that thing they eat in sitcoms on TV).
It’s “cured” because it’s soaked in a solution of salt, nitrates, and sometimes sugar. Together with the smoking, the curing preserves the meat and ameliorates its flavor.
American bacon is streaky with fat; it’s cut into thin strips meant to be cooked—on the stove, in the oven, under the broiler, or on the hot grate of a grill—until those strips come out deliciously crispy and brown.
British, a.k.a. rasher, bacon:
In the United Kingdom, bacon comes from the pig’s loin. Less fatty, this part of the pig yields bacon that’s leaner, chewier, and thicker compared to its stateside counterpart. The bacon is cut and served in round slices known as “rashers.”
Rasher bacon is also cured, but it isn’t smoked. Traditionally, it’s prepared and served as part of the Full English Breakfast, along with sausages, blood pudding, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, toast, and beans (yes, all for breakfast and all on one plate!).
So, basically, streaky bacon is pork belly in the UK, and rasher bacon is pork tenderloin in the US.
Cooking American Bacon
Bring the streaky bacon to room temperature by removing it from the fridge 15 minutes before cooking.
Whip out your cast iron skillet, fire up the stove, turn the heat to medium, and wait 5 minutes for the skillet to preheat. Don’t crank the heat all the way up to high; you want to brown the bacon and not burn it.
Lay the bacon strips in the hot pan and let them sizzle for a few minutes on one side without interruption. When they’ve turned golden brown, flip them over and repeat the process. Adjust the time to the thickness of the strips; thinner bacon browns quicker and thicker bacon browns slower.
Using kitchen tongs, remove the crispy, golden-brown strips from the heat one at a time. Place them neatly side by side on two or three sheets of stacked kitchen paper, then soak up the rest of the grease by patting them dry with another paper towel or two in hand.
Let the bacon strips rest for 2-3 minutes, then plate and serve. American bacon is perfectly fine when eaten on its own. Of course, it also has its rightful place next to sunny-side-up eggs or in a BLT sandwich.
Cooking British Bacon
Bring the bacon rashers to room temperature by removing them from the fridge 15 minutes before cooking. Open the package and pat away any leftover juices using a paper towel.
Whip out a cast iron skillet and grease it lightly by using your hand to spread a dollop of vegetable oil on the bottom and sides of the cooking surface. Turn up the heat to medium-high and preheat the pan, greased and empty, for 5 minutes.
Using kitchen scissors, snip the rind halfway down. This will keep the rashers from curling in your pan during cooking. Lay them on the hot pan and let cook on one side until they’ve turned crispy and taken on a golden brown color.
Flip and repeat. When the rashers are done, remove them from the heat and rest them for 2-3 minutes before serving.