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Bacon

Monday, May 5th, 2008

Jammin’ Bacon

My mom likes to tell the story of my first Christmas as a toddler, in which I nearly hyperventilated while jumping up and down in my Johnny Jumper at the first sight of a wrapped present. These days I can usually keep my excitement under wraps, but when Josh from Skillet sent me a jar of BACON JAM I could feel my heart rate go up and my breath quicken. I was in the middle of a conversation which I quickly broke off when I spotted the package on the mail shelf. I tore into the box to find a small jar of dirt-colored paste. Honestly, it did not look appetizing, but that didn’t stop me from opening the jar right there in the lobby. I took one whiff of intoxicating bacon and plunged my finger right in.

This stuff is GOOD. Packed full of bacon, but also tempered with caramelized onions and a vinegary counterbalance that reminds me of chutney. I tried it on bagels with a bit of turkey (YUM), as a pizza base (YUM) and even stirred it into cottage cheese as a snack (YUM). I can’t wait to head down to Skillet and try it on their burger.

Thank you Josh!

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

My savior has arrived…

And its name is BACON SALT.

I met with Dave, one of the geniuses behind Bacon Salt, a few weeks ago to try out the product. I was leery because of my past experience with Bacon Spray, but this stuff is the real deal. Completely tastes like bacon. And it’s fantastic on fries. And chicken. And maybe even licked straight out of the container.

The only thing to remember is that this is indeed salt, and unlike other things (i.e. bacon), you actually CAN have too much salt. So use it judiciously. But use it often.

Thursday, March 9th, 2006

2006 Independent Food Festival Award – Best Result of Pigs Gone Wild

The second annual Independent Food Festival is here, and I have been asked to give an award. I know it’s predictable, but something in the world would be amiss if I didn’t give my award to bacon. Not that I’m giving this award out randomly; this bacon truly deserves an award—or maybe even several. So I present to you the 2006 Independent Food Award – Best Result of Pigs Gone Wild: Wild Boar Bacon.

I discovered wild boar bacon about a year ago and ever since have made it my mission to introduce it to as many people as possible. I’m like a drug dealer except what I’m pushing is legal and much better than crack (so I’m told).

In researching my award, I was shocked to find out that there are an estimated two million wild boar (a.k.a. feral hogs) roaming wild and free in the state of Texas. So many that they are deemed pests—albeit 200 pound pests with razor sharp tusks and a nasty fighting technique called disembowelment. Wild boar are also 90% vegetarian (i.e. they create significant crop damage) and have no natural predators, so hunting season for wild boar is open year-round with no limits, and can be hunted by any means possible, at any time of day.

For this particular bacon, the meat comes from Southern Wild Game, Inc out of Devine, Texas where freelance trappers can exchange their hogs for cash. The wild boar are then sold to Sierra Meats in Reno, Nevada, which then sends the bellies to Dale’s Exotic Game Meats in Brighton, Colorado for smoking. The boar bellies spend 2-3 hours in a vacuum tumbler with a salt and sugar brine, then are cold smoked over hickory for 10 hours. Then the bacon travels to Exotic Meats in Bellevue, Washington where it can be purchased by the public. Yes, the food miles are ridiculous, but this bacon is so worth it.

UPDATE: Keiko just posted a beautiful award for rare breed pigs… check it out!

====================
THE BACON RATING SYSTEM
====================
(see B.R.S. for more information)

BACON STATS

Brand: n/a
Name: Wild Boar Bacon
Cost per pound: $9.50 (sold in 1-2 pound packs)
Where purchased: http://www.exoticmeats.com

Packaging: Vacuum-sealed in thick plastic and flash frozen
Cut: Whole slab; sliced at home into medium-thick slices
Preservatives: Sodium nitrate

Cooking heat: Low
Total cooking time: 25-30 minutes

BACON RATING

Pork Flavor
not enough << 1 2 3 4 5 4 3 2 1 >> too much

Smoke
not enough << 1 2 3 4 5 4 3 2 1 >> too much

Salt
not enough << 1 2 3 4 5 4 3 2 1 >> too much

Sugar
not enough << 1 2 3 4 5 4 3 2 1 >> too much

Fat
not enough << 1 2 3 4 5 4 3 2 1 >> too much

Texture
too chewy << 1 2 3 4 5 4 3 2 1 >> too crisp

OVERALL SCORE: 4.67 out of 5

BACON TASTING NOTES

  • Beautiful raw slab with deep, deep red meat—colored more like venison or elk than pork.
  • Very hard to visually tell the “grain” of the meat, but knife meets slight resistance if cutting with the grain. You want to cut against the grain, otherwise the bacon is too chewy.
  • Optimal cooking requires low heat for a long time in order to render fat and crisp bacon without burning; it’s like torture waiting for bacon to cook as the smell is incredible.
  • Extreme shrinkage was evident, due to the large amount of fat rendered. Keep fat at all costs, it’s simply amazing to cook with—much more flavorful than regular bacon drippings.
  • Flavor is out of this world. I wouldn’t call it gamey, but it has a pronounced, rich pork flavor that’s almost sweet. The bacon tasted almost maple-y and bordered on slightly too sweet and too salty, but the whole combination was heady and gluttonous in the best possible way. This is bacon that’s meant to be savored.

Tuesday, March 7th, 2006

Introducing the B.R.S.

A while back I decided it was high time for me to start reviewing bacons, so I devised a Bacon Rating System (B.R.S.) to accurately rate and compare bacons without having to eat all the bacon in one sitting (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

I promise that all reviews will be entirely subjective and totally biased, but I encourage debate—if you disagree with a rating, please let me know! If you are interested in rating your own bacon using the system below, please send me a link to your post or contact me at baconreviews@iheartbacon.com and I will post your review.

Insert tongue in cheek and then read on:
If you are a bacon maker (i.e. my hero) and would like me to review your product, I will absolutely accept free samples. But please note that Free Bacon != Good Review. If I like the bacon, I’ll say so; if it sucks, I will tell you it sucks (although I’m not entirely sure that bacon could suck).

For the ratings, all bacon will be pan-fried over optimal heat and cooked to optimal doneness; until just crisp, but still a little chewy (total cooking time and heat will be recorded). The Bacon Rating System will work as follows…

(Stay tuned for the first review which will be posted on March 9th!)

====================
THE BACON RATING SYSTEM
====================

BACON STATS

Brand:
Name:
Cost per pound:
Where purchased:

Packaging:
Cut:
Preservatives:

Cooking heat:
Total cooking time:

BACON RATING

The scale looks like this: 1 2 3 4 5 4 3 2 1
The left end is “not enough” and the right end is “too much”, so a perfect score would be 5

Pork Flavor
not enough << 1 2 3 4 5 4 3 2 1 >> too much

Smoke
not enough << 1 2 3 4 5 4 3 2 1 >> too much

Salt
not enough << 1 2 3 4 5 4 3 2 1 >> too much

Sugar
not enough << 1 2 3 4 5 4 3 2 1 >> too much

Fat
not enough << 1 2 3 4 5 4 3 2 1 >> too much

Texture
too chewy << 1 2 3 4 5 4 3 2 1 >> too crisp

OVERALL SCORE:

BACON TASTING NOTES