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Old 03-23-2005, 04:14 PM   #1
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Ham, pork, bacon...

For once and for all can I get an explanation of what exactly is the difference. I realize bacon is smoke cured, I think, but I'd like a more definitive thing here...

Like ham and pork; this is where I get lost..If I get something called a "ham steak" what is the difference between that and a pork chop? They are from the same animal, I think. is one already salted or something? is it the cut that makes the difference?

may as well throw in all these terms; fat back, salt pork. what do those mean?

also can you go through the italian versions of this. Prosciutto, this is like bacon but it is not smoked? there are some other varieties of ham, but I cant recall what they call them...

Probably dumb questions, but I think other people might wonder as well, I know I am never really sure....

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Old 03-23-2005, 04:16 PM   #2
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Can't tell you myself. Even though they all come from the same place, they all counted as different meats in my book. I think bacon is the layer of meat and fat closest to the skin though, but I'm not sure.
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Old 03-23-2005, 04:26 PM   #3
 
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Ok. I will take the pork on!

bacon = American bacon = streaky bacon (British) Pronunciation: BAY-kuhn Notes: Bacon is a very fatty slab taken from the underside of a pig. The bacon sold in markets is usually cured and smoked, but it's also possible to buy uncured fresh bacon = pork belly = side pork.
[I often call pork belly -- joe bacon; if it is smoked, I call it smoked joe]

fatback Notes: This is a slab of fat that runs along the back of a pig. You can render it into lard, cut it into barding strips to wrap around lean roasts, or use it to line terrine or pâté pans. It you're cutting it into sheets, it helps to put it in the freezer first until it's firm. It's also sometimes cured like bacon. It's hard to find, ask your butcher. Substitutes: caul fat (great for making terrines or pâtés, but hard to find) OR bacon (blanch before using; good for barding or lining terrine pans) OR salt pork (blanch first)

pancetta = Italian bacon Pronunciation: pan-SHEH-tuh Notes: Pancetta is the Italian counterpart to our bacon. It's cured, but not smoked, and it's often used to give a subtle salty flavor to pasta sauces. Deli counters often carry cylinders of it, and slice it to order. Substitutes: equal parts prosciutto and salt pork OR unsmoked lean bacon OR bacon (Blanch it first in boiling water for a couple of minutes to tone down the smoky flavor.) OR prosciutto

salt pork Notes: This is a salt-cured chunk of fat that comes from pork bellies. It's used in much the same way as bacon, though salt pork is fattier and not smoked. Substitutes: bacon OR ham OR pancetta
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Old 03-23-2005, 04:56 PM   #4
 
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Oh, and I forgot. A ham steak is just a thick slice of ham -- either smoked or not.

see this link for an explanation of pork cuts http://www.foodsubs.com/MeatPork.html
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Old 03-23-2005, 05:00 PM   #5
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I still dont get the difference between pork and ham, but the other stuff you posted is useful. thx.
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Old 03-23-2005, 05:04 PM   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpinmaryland
I still dont get the difference between pork and ham, but the other stuff you posted is useful. thx.
Pork is a fresh pig leg cut. Ham is the same cut, brined/salted or brined/salted and smoked.
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Old 03-23-2005, 05:11 PM   #7
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this article is quite useful (many cuts are dicsussed here) although on the pork vs ham thing; I do not think it is saying the same thing as you

http://www.ljworld.com/section/cookingqa/story/77325

what I gather from the article; ham is from a certain section of the pig and you are telling me it depends on whether it is brined or not. hmmm.

Is ham a sub group of pork? Getting this answered might help...
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Old 03-23-2005, 05:13 PM   #8
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My understanding is that pork is just a term used to talk about meat from a pig.

Ham is a cut of meat. The cut of meat from a hog's hind leg, generally from the middle of the shank bone to the aitch (hip) bone.
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Old 03-23-2005, 05:15 PM   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpinmaryland
this article is quite useful (many cuts are dicsussed here) although on the pork vs ham thing; I do not think it is saying the same thing as you

http://www.ljworld.com/section/cookingqa/story/77325

what I gather from the article; ham is from a certain section of the pig and you are telling me it depends on whether it is brined or not. hmmm.

Is ham a sub group of pork? Getting this answered might help...
Yes. When I say brining, I don't mean a short soak in salt water, I mean a cure, which can use either salt water or a dry seasoning mixture.
http://www.foodsubs.com/MeatcureHams.html
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Old 03-23-2005, 05:26 PM   #10
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and bacon? Bacon comes from a different place than ham. So bacon is type of pork but it is not ham?
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Old 03-23-2005, 05:29 PM   #11
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Yes, bacon comes from the side of the pig. It is cured and smoked.
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Old 03-23-2005, 05:36 PM   #12
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Hi, Jpinmaryland. Pork is the meat from a pig, period.

This pork is sold two ways, as fresh pork, that means it comes butchered from the pig without any other messing about, or cured pork, that means it is dry cured, wet cured and maybe smoked. Somewhere along the line going from fresh pork to the cured stuff is going to require salt.

The flavor and texture of the two types of pork is quite different.

When people talk about pork chops they are usually talking about fresh pork from the loin region (it includes the ribs and short loin). You can get cured pork chops, and they are delicious, but in many places you do not see them very often (regularly see them at SuperWalmart).

Ham is the hind leg of the porker. But since it is usually sold cured most people just call that stuff 'ham' and will not say cured. But you can buy fresh, uncured ham, and it is delicious.

Hope that helps.
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Old 03-23-2005, 07:39 PM   #13
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Correct..pork is just pig meat.

Bacon, ham, pork chops, fat back, etc are all cuts of pork.
The pork charts in the Terms & techniques forum may help.

Ham is the hind leg. etc hip.
Not to be confused with the boston butt/butt, which comes from the shoulder/front leg.
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Old 03-23-2005, 10:51 PM   #14
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then what the heck are these "ham steaks?" is that still the hind leg of the pig?
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Old 03-23-2005, 11:23 PM   #15
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Anything that comes from a pig can fall under the label pork. Just like anything that comes from a cow falls under the label beef.

A ham is a cut from a certain location (like GB said) - the way it is prepared will tell you what it is next -

Traditionally, ham is made from the upper portion of the forelegs which weigh from 15 to 25 lbs - but you can take any cut and basically have ham if it is prepared with a brine and a cure. For a garden variety "boiled ham", the meat is removed from the brine, rinsed off and placed in 170 °F water where it is held until the internal temperature reaches 155° F on a meat thermometer. This will take about an hour for a 3 lb piece. You can also take this same cut from the forelegs and smoke it for about 18 hours and get barbeque. A pork chop is just a cut that you cook however you want.

It's all the same theory as a cow - it's like asking why is a London Broil a London broil and why is a filet a filet and what is the difference in those and beef. It's all beef - from a pig it's all pork.

You are thinking too hard.

A ham steak is just a thick slice of ham usually usually less than 1/2" and more than 1/4" - you can heat it up in a skillet or on the grill. The term "steak" is just to associate it with a term people know - it's like chicken fried steak - we know fried chicken - so chicken fried steak is made like fried chicken.
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Old 03-24-2005, 03:48 AM   #16
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Go to:

http://www.askthemeatman.com/pork.htm

This site should answer all your questions about Pork.

I D/L some of the charts but they need to be enhanced and resized. If they come out I'll post them here.

Also a GOOGLE search for "Butchering Hogs" brought back a lot of memories of how my grandparents did it!
I remember they use to say the only thing they didn't eat from the pig was the "Squeal"

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Old 03-24-2005, 04:28 AM   #17
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In the UK we would generally say that pork is untreated meat from a pig.

Ham and bacon are cured cuts- whether by salting or by smoking or both.

And let's not get into the diff between ham and gammon!
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Old 03-24-2005, 08:40 AM   #18
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Hungry, those charts are already listed in the Terms & techniques forum.

Ham steaks are just that. A steak cut from a ham.
Pork steaks are cut from the butt.
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Old 03-25-2005, 01:58 PM   #19
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thanks everyone.
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Old 03-25-2005, 03:06 PM   #20
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Just as there are different names for the various cuts of beef, so to are there differin names for the pork cuts.

You can easily do a Google Search and get a carcass chart that points to the various cuts and identifies them.

Pork includes every cut from the hog, just as beef is used to generally describe cuts from a cow.

Concerning hams and pork, the ham is cuts from the shoulder or hip and has sub-categorizations. A fresh-ham means that the cut has not been cured, brined, or smoked, and is simply the raw ham. A Virginia Smoked Ham is a fresh ham that has been packed in salt for a specified period of time to remove moisture and preserve the meat. It is then hung in a smokehouse and slowly cooked at a low temperature in an atmosphere of woodsmoke, sometimes for months at a time. The cut usually marketed as ham has been brined, or injected with a curing solution that has smoke flavoring added. It is cooked, wrapped and sold. The label will list water added. A ham product is chopped ham that has been cut and pressed into a boneless chunk of meat that resembles ham. Most canned hams, and Spam brand luncheon meat are of this type. Again, they are not truly smoked.

Many hams have a sweet glaze or solution that has been injected into the meat to add flavor. Sugar, maple, and honey are the most widely used. Syrups are sometimes baked onto the outside befor wrapping for the same purpose.

Pork also describes the rest of the carcass. You get pork sirloin, pork steaks, pork chops, pork tenderloins, pork ribs, etc. Even bacon, fat back, and ham-hocks qualifies as pork.

Hope this clears up some of the confusion. By the way, there are standards to describe the names given to various ham products. Those standards tell how much water can be added before the smoked ham becomes a ham product, etc. I have seen them, but don't remember the rules. They're not hard to find though. Just do a bit of surfing around.

By the way, an interesting tidbit of info is that Spam is a product developed during the 2nd world war, I think. It was a method to get food to G.I.'s faster and involved adding a brine solution and chopped pork to a can, sealing it, then cooking to be sent out to the troops. And I have to say that I've had Turkey Spam just once. I won't eat it again. There might be people on the planet that enjoy its flavor, but I'm not one of them.

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