I love bacon
I love bacon
I love bacon. Really. There’s nothing better than biting into a piece of thick-cut maple right after it’s been cooked. The soft flesh, combined with the fat makes for a “my-taste- buds- are- dancing” sensory experience. Ask anyone what their favorite smell is and they will likely say, “bacon cooking.” Sherree Goldstein, owner of Square Café talks about bacon with such admiration one may think she’s speaking about a dear friend. “We buy our bacon thick-cut only; 12 pieces per pound, and go through a minimum of 75 pounds a week.” That’s 300 pounds a month and 3600 pounds consumed a year… at Square Café alone!
Take a walk down the street to Root 174, and chances are you’ll find Chef Keith Fuller curing pork belly in his restaurant- he’s fond of our delicious friend the pig as well.
So, where does bacon come from? It’s cut from the side of a pig’s belly. After the meat has been butchered, it is cured or smoked. At this point, butchers can do any manner of things to enhance the flavor. Looking for apple-wood smoked bacon? Simply buy some chips, and smoke away. My personal favorite, maple bacon is made by marinating this wonderful meat in a good quality maple syrup.
Canadian bacon is made from the loin of the pig and isn’t really bacon at all (nice try Canada). One can also buy turkey bacon (blech!) or tofu bacon (double blech!) if you’re trying to watch calories, or want to avoid flavor altogether.
Bacon is everywhere these days, even on dessert shelves. I’ve seen chocolate-covered bacon, and even bacon flavored gum. Many chefs are experimenting with these creations, and their customers are happy. Have you ever seen chocolate-bacon frosting on a cake? I have. I even watched a chef make pate’ this morning on the Today Show that was carefully brushed over chicken kebabs. Wrapped scallops, tenderloin, salmon and pork are just a few additional examples of creative ways to enhance and marry flavors with this pork product.
Everyone swears that their way of cooking is the right way. It can be cooked in a pan, or on a flat-top. My favorite way to cook bacon is on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Simply place your strip an inch apart from each other on a well-greased cookie sheet, and cook at 350 degrees until it becomes brown and crispy. Remove from from the tray, and place on paper towels allowing the excess fat to drain from the strips. Please don’t deep-fry bacon… all that good flavor will be left in the frying oil.
Fat is King
Fat=flavor. I know that’s not something everyone wants to hear, but it’s the truth. The large strips of fat that encapsulate the small portions of protein, or meat, are where the luscious taste of pork originates. The larger strips of fat that are on our beloved cuts of bacon equate to more taste satisfaction.
The next time you have a hankering for a good piece of bacon, seek out the good stuff. Avoid the vacuum-sealed, run-of-the-mill pork products in the grocery store, and visit your local butcher.
“I’m looking for the thickest-cut, most flavorful cut you have.”
Those words will put a smile on your butcher’s face, and will provide you with some delicious bacon to enjoy for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Chef Chuck Kerber