Difference Between Bacon and Pancetta

Bacon vs Pancetta
 

The difference between bacon and pancetta can be observed in the cuts, the method of preparation of each meat type, and the flavour. In many cultures, pork, which is the generic name for the meat from a pig, is a great source of food. For those who do not consume pork frequently, or are from a part of the world where pig meat is eaten less frequently, remain confused between the names that are given to various cuts of pork. Bacon is the meat from one part of the animal that is most popular in all parts of the world. Pancetta is also a meat from a pig, and is a common name in Italy. However, despite being called Italian bacon, there are some differences that will be talked about in this article.

Bacon and pancetta are pork products that look similar and also have a similar taste. No wonder then that there are people in Italy that use these words interchangeably. However, both have distinct features and differences in the way they are prepared and thus, justifying different names. If you take a closer look at the pieces of bacon and pancetta, you will realize that they come from the belly of the animal. Similarities do not end here as both pancettas as well as bacon gets cured for a long time period. They are not dishes or recipes, mind you, and need to be cooked by baking, steaming, or grilling before they can be eaten.

What is Bacon?

Bacon is the meat of the pig that comes from the sides of the animal or its back. In America, bacon is also made by using pork belly. Bacon is made by bringing the side of the pork belly and then smoking it.

Bacon is sold in thin slices. You can eat bacon by frying, boiling, grilling or smoking. It is crispy once fried and is a breakfast food item in most Western countries where it is eaten with toast and eggs.

Difference Between Bacon and Pancetta

What is Pancetta?

Pancetta comes strictly from the belly of the animal. Pancetta making is done in two main ways where it is used as a slab or as rolled type though there are many regional variations. It is made by first seasoning a side of the pork belly with salt and a lot of pepper. Then, it is curled into a tight roll. Finally, it is wrapped in a casing, to hold the shape. It is sold as rolled up in the shape of sausages.Pancetta is never smoked. So, it is the curing process that makes all the difference between bacon and pancetta.

 Bacon vs  Pancetta

Pancetta is used much the same way as bacon, mostly as a flavor additive in soups and sauces. Pancetta is mainly used as a garnish.

What is the difference between Bacon and Pancetta?

There is not much of a difference between bacon and pancetta, which is also referred to as Italian bacon.

• Preparation:

• Bacon is made by bringing the side of the animal and then smoking it.

• Pancetta is made by seasoning a side of the pork belly with salt and a lot of pepper. Then, it is curled into a tight roll. Finally, it is wrapped in a casing, to hold the shape. Pancetta is never smoked.

• Part of the Cut:

• In America, bacon comes from both belly as well as sides.

• In Italy, pancetta comes strictly from the belly of the animal.

• Moisture:

• Since bacon is smoked it is not very moist.

• Not being smoked makes pancetta moister.

• Flavor:

• Bacon is less salty as it comes in thin slices.

• Pancetta is saltier than bacon as it often comes in larger slices or as dices.

• Size:

• Bacon is usually cut to thin slices.

• Pancetta is cut to thicker slices or dices.

• Shape:

• Bacon comes as thin slices.

• Pancetta is sold as rolled up in the shape of sausages.

As you can see, there are only slight differences between bacon and pancetta. The main difference is that bacon is smoked while pancetta is not. Due to the large size of pancetta normally it carries a more salty taste than bacon.

Images Courtesy:

  1. Bacon by cyclonebill (CC BY-SA 2.0)
  2. Pancetta by Dancan (CC BY-SA 3.0)