Also known as « lean bacon », side pork is taken from above the belly of the animal and consists of the short ribs and back fat. Once de-boned, trimmed, and salted, side pork is either braised or smoked. In English-.speaking countries, bacon refers to thin slices of smoked side pork. This piece of bacon is cut into lardons and made into sausages and rillettes.
Fresh, semi-salted, and smoked pork side (belly) can be purchased from an artisan butcher where it is presented in a rectangular block. The thickness depends on the dish you are planning to make. The delicatessen section of supermarkets sell thick pieces of semi-salted bacon, thin slices of smoked side bacon, and vacuum-packed fresh pork side in thick slices. You can find packaged pork side that is already sliced and seasoned, and ready for the grill. “Le Porc Français” (French pork) is a mark of quality similar to Label Rouge. It has been awarded to free-range pork produced in the Auvergne, Sud-ouest, and Sarthe (Cénomans) regions
Blanch the piece of bacon for a few minutes before dicing (lardons).
Pork side can be broiled, grilled, pan-fried, roasted, or boiled (1 hour).
What would petit salé aux lentilles (salt pork with lentils) be without pork side? This cut of bacon is ideal for making hot pots and stews. Cut into slices or chunks, pork side can be marinated with herbs and spices, or glazed with honey or soy sauce before sautéing or broiling. Ideal accompaniments include fennel, green beans, potatoes, asparagus, and cabbage.
Pork side can be kept for up to three days in the refrigerator in its original packaging. It can also be frozen for up to three months.
Pork side is high in sodium, potassium, and phosphorous. It is relatively high in fat, but has practically no carbohydrates.
Ventrêche is a cut of side bacon. It is typically used in the south of France. Its Italian equivalent is pancetta.