Bacon in French cooking
I'm beginning my foray into French cooking, and I notice many recipes, such as beef bourguignon, call for bacon. It seems unlikely that they mean the slimy salty stuff that Americans eat (sorry if I'm hurting any bacony feelings). Should I use back bacon or pancetta instead?
Hopefully someone can offer some wisdom about choosing and buying bacon to cook with. I live in California and have access to a decent butcher, fwiw.
Slab bacon, nice and lean (I think that's what you mean by back bacon?), purchase a chunk, not sliced and you can slice it into whatever thickness you need. Your butcher should have it.
Remember, bacon, as we know it, is cured and smoked and pancetta is only cured.
A bit of a different flavor profile but I have seen recipes for beouf bourguignon calling for unsmoked bacon. Julia Child's recipe calls for chunk bacon.
I wouldn't use back bacon as there's not enough fat on it. In the UK you can get packets of lardons, which is what I'd use, or I'd get thick slices of streaky bacon or pancetta.
My mother is French, but lives in the south of the US now. Because lardons (the French version of bacon) is nigh impossible to get, she buys bacon and blanches it to help reduce the smokiness and salt (as bizkat suggested). I find that this works well enough.
If you can find unsmoked bacon, this would probably be closer the the French-style lardons.