Slab bacon is a substantial cut of pork belly which is usually cured and may also be smoked. It is generally sliced into smaller portions according to a cook’s needs and preferences, allowing greater culinary freedom than pre-sliced bacon. Slab bacon can sometimes be difficult to find, although it is often available from butcher shops and specialty food stores. After purchasing this type of bacon, it is important to properly store it to avoid spoilage.
Usually, this type of bacon consists of a substantial cut of pork belly. This is the same cut of pork from which most North American bacon is derived, and both types of bacon tend to be composed largely of streaks of fat. The primary difference between slab bacon and typical North American bacon is that the former is sold in a rectangular block, while the latter is pre-sliced into relatively thin pieces.
In most cases, this bacon is pre-cured, or treated with a combination of salt, nitrates, and nitrites. This treatment lends flavor to the meat while also making it inhospitable to harmful bacteria. Sometimes this bacon is also smoked, or temporarily placed in a closed environment with a smoke-producing material such as burning wood. The smoking process adds flavor, and in some cases helps to preserve the bacon.
Perhaps the primary advantage of slab bacon is the fact that a cook can cut it according to his needs and preferences. If he prefers sliced bacon which is thicker than that usually sold in supermarkets, for instance, he is free to cut thick pieces from a slab. Should he need a substantial piece of bacon to lend flavor to a soup or stew, he can cut a large block from the slab.
Depending on where one lives, this type of bacon can sometimes be difficult to find. In general, it is not widely available in supermarkets. Those who would like to purchase a slab of uncut bacon might try visiting a butcher shop, a specialty food store, or a farmers’ market.
After purchasing slab bacon, it is important to store it properly to prevent the buildup of bacteria. As a cut of this type of bacon is usually fairly large, it can potentially contain several weeks’ worth of meat. Like most uncooked meats, while raw, this type of bacon will only remain fresh for a few days. Thus to avoid food-borne illness, those who do not anticipate cooking an entire slab of bacon within a few days of purchase should cut off the excess portion, wrap it thoroughly, and freeze it for future use.