The phrase "pass the bacon" is beginning to have a more nutritious meaning for millions of health-conscious Americans incorporating Canadian bacon into their diets.
Best known as an ingredient in Eggs Benedict, Canadian bacon's recent rise in popularity stems from the low-carbohydrate diet craze. Although carb counting is no longer as fashionable, Canadian bacon remains a healthy cooking option because it's low in fat and high in protein.
With "bacon" in its name, consumers often confuse Canadian bacon with traditional American bacon, according to Philip Jones, president of Jones Dairy Farm, a leading U.S. producer of Canadian bacon. However, unlike its fatty American counterpart, Canadian bacon is a lean smoked meat made from the tender pork loin. It's precooked and has an appearance and flavor more similar to ham.
Jones points out an important difference between Canadian bacon and Canadian-style bacon. Real Canadian bacon is strictly the loin meat, but Canadian-style bacon is typically made from sirloin hip meat and includes ground pork trim. Jones believes consumers will prefer the higher-quality authentic product because it provides a more uniform appearance, better texture and superior taste.
"Real Canadian bacon provides fuller flavor and firmer texture," said Jones. "It's a premium ingredient that adds a wonderful smoky flavor in salads, sandwiches, soups or even by itself." He offers the following recipe showcasing the versatility of Canadian bacon.
Makes 5 (11/2-cup) servings
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1 (141/2-oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup chicken or beef broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 (10-oz) package frozen sliced okra, thawed
8 Jones Golden Brown precooked sausage links or patties, coarsely chopped
1 (6-oz) package Jones Canadian Bacon slices, cut into strips
2 cups hot cooked rice
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add green pepper, onion, garlic; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add flour; cook and stir 1 minute. Add tomatoes, broth, thyme, oregano, pepper sauce; bring to simmer. Cover; simmer 5 minutes. Stir in okra and sausage; simmer covered 5 minutes. Stir in Canadian bacon; simmer uncovered 3 minutes. Ladle into five shallow bowls; top with rice, parsley.
Cajun-Style Gumbo made better with the addition of real Canadian bacon.