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Published:March 3rd, 2008 08:58 EST
The Bacon Freak's Pop Pork Preliminaries

The Bacon Freak's Pop Pork Preliminaries

By Rocco Loosbrock

Remember back to when we were kids, long before the iron-fisted, totalitarian reign of vegan authoritarianism and a good 20 years before pork was half-heartedly pardoned and re-embraced, somewhat cautiously as the other white meat? " That`s it, way back when pork was as much a part of the western culture as television itself? Well in those days, everyone was aware of the various choice cuts and knew exactly what each meal called for and precisely how each cut was best prepared.

We have re-emerged relatively socially intact from the highly intolerant, dark ages " of the Anti-Pork Movement of the 70`s through the 90`s. And now, nearly two full generations of large segments of the civilized world have either never known or lost complete track of what was once known to all as the Pork Basics " or what we like to call Pork 101. "

These days, people are enthusiastically seeking out opportunities to enjoy the very freshest and finest quality, gourmet bacon, ham, sausage, chops, ribs, flank, rump, jowls, etc. " but they simply don`t know exactly what it is in each case they are looking for. Therefore, we here at`s Bacon Freak " have decided to take a little bit of time and help shed some light on an important part of our cultures culinary consciousness that was left in the dark for much too long.

So in order to assure that we`re all on the same page when it comes to the preliminary pork " products, preparation and protocol, let`s go over some of the most fundamental terms found in this burgeoning industry`s specific Chop-Block Shop Talk " something we like to refer to as Pig Latin " and the bare basics in plain old ordinary, day to day English.

Bacon: Preferably gourmet, this is an especially delectable cut of pork from the hog`s sides and belly that has been carefully cured and/or smoked to perfectly enhance it`s all natural deliciousness. It usually consists of interspersed sections of taste of flavorful fat, alternating with strands of pure, palatable, protein packed meat. It most often comes sliced, but can be acquired whole " in what is called a "slab."

canadian Bacon: A special cut of pork, coming to us from the eye of the loin, " which is
located in the middle back of the loin. Canadian bacon is normally cut into round slices and its texture, taste and smell more closely resembles ham rather than regular bacon.

Chop: The pork loin chop, also called the center cut or includes a large T-shaped bone, and is structurally similar to the beef t-bone steak. The rib chop logically comes from the rib portion of the loin, and are very similar to a rib-eye steak. Blade or shoulder chops are cut from the shoulder end of the loin. The sirloin chop is taken from the rear leg end.

Curing: It is the process of infusing meat with a one or more of a number of flavor enhancing ingredients, including various wood smokes, salt, seasonings, herbs, sugar, honey, molasses, fruit juices, etc. Some cures may include specially designed nitrites used to enhance the flavor, color and shelf life of the pork.

Ground Pork: Fully Ground or finely chopped, it is usually unseasoned and almost always available fresh. For those on a stricter diet, ground pork is a meatier mix of meat with an average lean to fat ratios of 70% lean to 30% fat.

Ham: A hefty, whole helping of hind leg heaven, usually cured and smoked.

Pigs in Blankets: Savory sausage links, already cooked and then baked within a wrapping of pastry, or bread dough and sometimes pancakes.

Ribs: Pork cuts from the ribcage, usually cooked by smoking and then grilling, frying, barbecuing, or baking, most often with a tangy, BBQ Sauce. Baby back ribs are taken from the top of the rib cage, below the loin muscle. They have meat between the bones and are shorter but meatier than spareribs. The Spareribs are taken from the belly side of the rib cage, so they usually contain more bone than meat and also quite a bit of fat, which can make the ribs much more tender than the back ribs.

Rub: A mixture of spices and herbs used to season pork.

Salami: A large, highly seasoned, Italian-style sausage.

Sausage: Highly seasoned, sometimes smoked and or cured, this gourmet ground pork is usually stuffed in a casing to make links " but is also available in patties and bulk.

I hope that helps to alleviate the uncomfortable sense of uncertainty that should never be a part and parcel of people proudly pigging out " properly! Dig in and enjoy!