Salt pork, sometimes known as fatback, is an ingredient commonly used in recipes like Boston baked beans, chowder, and collard greens. It’s a type of cured pork that adds a distinct flavor to various dishes. However, salt pork is heavy in fat and salt, so it’s not the healthiest food.
Fortunately, there are many delectable and healthful alternatives to salt pork ranging from bacon to prosciutto to plant-based alternatives such as coconut bacon. To make our job easier, we’ve curated a list of some of the best salt pork substitutes that can help infuse your meals with delightful flavor.
Bacon, the iconic breakfast staple, can be a delicious stand-in for salt pork. It may not be the best option nutritionally, but it packs an unbeatable taste punch. Unlike salt pork, which is typically formed from the belly or shoulder of a pig and is salt-cured, bacon is derived from the belly and is typically smoked, which gives it a distinct flavor.
The options for utilizing bacon as a salt pork substitute are limitless. For a smoky and salty flavor, you can fry or bake it and add it to soups, stews, and bean dishes. You may also use it as a crispy topping for salads or sandwiches. Or just cut it into little bits and use it as a seasoning for pasta dishes, pizzas, sandwiches, and other meals. If you want to add even more smokiness to your recipes, consider substituting bacon grease for oil.
Another excellent alternative to salt pork is pancetta, which is the Italian version of bacon. Although prepared from pork belly and smoked, just like bacon, pancetta is salt-cured and typically seasoned with a variety of herbs and spices. This gives it a distinctive flavor that is different from bacon or salt pork but no less delectable.
Although pancetta may be used in a variety of meals, it tastes especially good in pasta, soups, and stews. It can be used as a topping or added to various dishes by thinly slicing or dicing it. It also complements pizza, salads, and sandwiches beautifully.
Prosciutto is a tasty substitute for salt pork. While it is not exactly the same as salt pork in terms of nutritional value or flavor, it is still a great fit for many recipes that call for the original ingredient.
The key distinction between salt pork and prosciutto is that the latter is dry-cured, whereas salt pork is often brined. As a result, prosciutto has a richer, somewhat saltier taste than salt pork. However, many recipes allow you to substitute the two. For instance, you may use thinly sliced prosciutto instead of salt pork in recipes like carbonara pasta or as a topping on pizza.
4. Coconut Bacon
Not only is it a delicious vegan alternative, but coconut bacon also packs a nutritional punch with its high fiber and healthy fat content. The texture and taste of coconut bacon also closely resemble that of traditional bacon, making it a great option for those looking to cut back on pork consumption.
You can use coconut bacon to replace salt pork in a variety of ways, like topping for a salad or adding a crispy crunch to a sandwich. It’s also a great addition to a breakfast plate, alongside eggs and toast. Keep in mind that coconut bacon may have a sweeter taste than salt pork, so adjust seasonings accordingly.
Seitan, also known as wheat gluten, is a popular meat substitute. It has a chewy texture and a meat-like taste, which makes it a great alternative for those looking to mimic the texture of pork. Nutritionally, seitan is a good source of protein and contains little to no fat.
You can use seitan in any dish that asks for salt pork and enjoy the delightful meat-like flavor guilt-free. It may be prepared in a variety of ways, such as sliced and pan-fried or added to soups and stews. You can also cook it with various sauces and marinades to give it a distinct flavor.
6. Smoked Salmon
Smoked salmon is not only a healthier alternative due to its lower fat content and high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, but it also lends a distinct and mildly smoky taste to recipes. Unlike salt pork, smoked salmon can also be used in sweet dishes such as pastries or as a topping on pancakes.
The key to using smoked salmon as a salt pork substitute is to use it in the same manner you would use bacon. It’s ideal for adding a smoky flavor to pasta, sandwiches, and salads. You may also crumble it and use it as a topping on pizza, spaghetti, and soups.
Anchovies may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of a salt pork substitute, but these little fishes carry a powerful flavor punch. They are high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in saturated fat. They also have a particular umami flavor that adds to the depth and complexity of a meal.
When substituting anchovies for salt pork, finely chop them and add them to a dish, just like you would bacon or pancetta. You can also use anchovies as a spice in dishes such as Caesar salad dressing and spaghetti sauce. Just keep the salt content of anchovies in mind since they are quite salty on their own.
Salami, a cured meat delicacy, is arguably the perfect substitute for salt pork. It is a leaner option that provides a lot of protein without excessive amounts of fat. Plus, it’s cured and fermented, giving it an irresistible flavor that’s sure to elevate any dish. The main distinction between the two is that salt pork is prepared from pork belly, whereas salami is made from a variety of meats, most frequently beef and pork.
There are countless ways to use salami in place of salt pork. You can slice it thin and add it to sandwiches or dice it up and toss it into pasta. You can also use salami as a pizza topping. Remember to use it sparingly, as a little goes a long way in terms of flavor.