Bacon Unwrapped

Sunday, August 30, 2009

More Pork on a Fork, please

I've tried A LOT of different kinds of bacon over the past few years. Most of it has ranged from good to great - because let's face it, it's hard to find "bad bacon" - and the better products tend to come from small producers who are focused on quality over quantity. But even though there is a lot of great bacon to be found around the country, it does take something special for my tastebuds to take notice.

Here in Phoenix there are several local bacon producers I like, and now I have one more to add to the list. The company is called Pork on a Fork and it's owned by two guys - Wes and Justin - who are originally from Nebraska which is where they source their pork from. And the bacon these guys are producing definitely has a uniqueness to it that caught my attention.

Last night at a gathering of friends, we taste tested two of their products - Cottage Bacon and Peppercorn Bacon. I'll start by telling you about the Cottage Bacon.

Cottage Bacon is a lesser-known bacon product, but one that has been increasing in popularity in recent years. It is thinly sliced and comes from a pig's shoulder instead of the belly where American-style streaky bacon comes from. It has more lean (meat) on it and less fat, although it's not quite as lean as Canadian or Peameal Bacon (which is from the loin). The taste and texture is more 'hammy'. In some parts of the country, Cottage Bacon is called Hillbilly Bacon or Backboard Bacon.

Everyone at the party enjoyed tasting Pork on a Fork's Cottage Bacon. The bacon was gone within minutes as the hungry pre-dinner crowd was drawn inside from the pool by the scent of pork. To prepare it I baked it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes - you wouldn't want to go any longer than that or the meat will get too dry and tough.

Next up was the pepper bacon.

What was immediately noticeable was the quality and size of the peppercorns clinging to the bacon. I've never had pepper bacon with such large peppercorns. And it worked REALLY well (although you do have to carefully move the strips of bacon from the packaging to the baking sheet so you don't lose too many of the peppercorns in the process - you want to hang on to as many of those delicious little bits of peppery flavor as possible!). The bacon looked so nice lined up on the baking sheet and I couldn't wait to get it in the oven to see how it would turn out.

I baked the bacon - which had a really nice fat/lean balance, by the way - in the oven at 350 degrees for about 18 minutes. Hands started grabbing for strips before I had even begun to transfer the bacon from the baking sheet to the plate. Burning fingers was not a concern for this crowd - getting to the pepper bacon as fast as possible was. It was de-lic-ious and the whole pound was consumed within minutes.

Pork on a Fork sells directly to consumers through farmers markets and interweb orders. I'm glad they tracked me down to share some of their products with the Bacon Unwrapped audience. Good stuff!

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  • Aww, no peppered bacon on their web site...but it reminded me of my FIRST real bacon-internet experiment. I cooked up a pound of thick applewood smoked bacon in the oven on a cooling rack over parchment paper. I covered all the bacon with brown sugar and peppercorns and did it at 350 for 20 min or so. We do it pretty regularly just for the smell it leaves in the house.

    Need a good name for peppercorn stuffed into dates, stuffed into jalapenos, wrapped in bacon, and then coated with brown sugar. IT'll be the next big thing after the bacon explosion :)

    By Blogger aaron, at 9:07 PM  

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