What Is Peameal Bacon?

While the U.S. associates Canada with Canadian bacon, there is another savory, tender, Canadian-famous pork product that is beloved throughout the northern country: peameal bacon. Peameal bacon is made from a pork loin, whereas most normal bacon is created using meat from the belly of the pig. The pork loin is trimmed of fat, wet cured, rolled in golden cornmeal and sold in either slices or links that are generally not pre-cooked or smoked. Canadian bacon, on the other hand, is smoked, round and pre-processed ham slices -- and a strictly American term. In Canada, it's called back bacon.

While the Canadian bacon that Americans know can be fried without consequence, peameal bacon must be cooked, baked, barbecued, grilled or roasted to ensure that the health and flavor of the meat are both in their prime. Peameal bacon is low-fat, lean and remarkably tender when cooked, as opposed to the crispy, crunchy strips of fatty bacon most people are familiar with. Despite its name, the dish is much closer to being pure, cooked ham than it is to any kind of bacon.

white plate with toast, poached egg and peameal bacon
Michael C. Gray/Shutterstock

Origins Of Peameal Bacon

If you were to ask any good Canadian who was responsible for the dish's creation, you'll likely hear the story of William Davies: a Toronto pork production tycoon whose massive company earned Toronto the nickname "Hogtown." Supposedly, in his rise to the top of a pork empire, Davies created peameal bacon. The world went crazy for the product, and Canada received a massive demand for peameal bacon from Great Britain.

The dish was exported from Canada in mass amounts from the early 1900s through World War II and was viewed as a necessity for a proper, well-flavored breakfast. As for the bacon's unique name: it supposedly came from how this type of bacon was originally prepared -- with ground dried yellow peas, because of cornmeal shortages before and during the first World War.

What Does Peameal Bacon Taste Like?

The taste of peameal bacon differs from American-style bacon in nearly every way. The cured pork dish isn't crunchy or crispy, but rather juicy, tender, salty and savory and a flavorful addition to any breakfast dish. Well-prepared peameal bacon should have a moist, rich flavor and a delicious, lightly crispy ring of cornmeal around the edge to enhance the texture and flavors of the dish. The Canadian cut of meat is unsmoked when it is sold, meaning that it retains the fantastic flavor of fresh ham even after it has been packaged to sell. It is also low in fat and healthier than other forms of bacon, so the delicious dish sits well in both your mouth and in your stomach. If you're looking for an alternative to fatty bacon dishes, peameal bacon will satisfy your savory and salty cravings with fresh and fantastic flavor.

logs of peameal bacon coated in corn meal
Tobin C/Shutterstock

How Is Peameal Bacon Served?

Much like any other form of bacon, peameal bacon is a delicious addition for any breakfast plate. It complements courses such as eggs Benedict hash browns, eggs, potatoes and omelets, and is a great add-on for breakfast sandwiches. This bacon is versatile and can be used in many Canadian recipes, and while it's commonly eaten in the morning, peameal bacon can be a part of lunch or dinner meals as well.

The tender meat can replace beef on traditional sliders to add a juicy kick to a classic favorite. When the meat is sliced or cubed, it can be added into soups including potato soups, chicken noodle soups, vegetable soups, chowders and stews. Peameal bacon is easy to add to any sandwich or wrap as the ultimate fresh deli meat. It can also be used to create a unique BLT with a tender and juicy texture. If you're a fan of meatloaf, cooking a log or large cut of this cured pork will give you dozens of mouth-watering cuts of moist, flavorful ham. And of course, the fresh and salty flavor of this type of bacon is a delicacy by itself -- and it is worth a trip to Canada to give this famous meat a try.

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