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Bacon in the snow

e
Eric Eto Feb 18, 2003 10:26 AM

After all the talk about the burger at Peter Luger's I finally got there during the blizzard. The burger was quite good, albeit overcooked. However, the best thing on the plate was the bacon. Damn, it was good. I haven't had a piece of bacon that good since... well, since a couple days before, when I got some stuff from one of the polish butchers in Greenpoint. I took a trip with another chowhound to get some items and we waited in line at Nassau Meat Market (I think that's the name) on Manhattan Ave just above Greenpoint Ave. The trouble with going to these Greenpoint butchers is that there's far too large a variety of wonderful looking products to choose from and I don't know what most of them are, besides being intimidated by the fact that everyone in there is speaking Polish. While we were waiting in line, contemplating which of those sausages or salames or smoked meats I should buy, I noticed that every other person in line was buying a 1-3 pound slab off of this semi-fatty hunk of meat the size of a whole loin. This was from the "hot meats" section of the counter towards the rear of the store. I'm not sure what cut it was, but since it was the size of a loin, I'm thinking it must be from the fattier layer just below the loin, but not the belly. I followed suit and got a 1 lb piece, along with some other inpulse buys. When we got back to my place to sample our goods, I took slices off the bacon-y slab and we were astounded with how good it was. It wasn't quite bacon, perhaps closer to a fatty ham, but regardless, it was damn good. They also have the raw version of this bacon available. Carbonara with polish bacon tonight, perhaps.

  1. m
    mickyme Feb 18, 2003 04:12 PM

    Could it be "kaiser" (I don't know if that would be the polish name, but Muncan in Astoria has something like what you describe)? Is it smoked and boiled? like a very tender, not hard, bacon?

    3 Replies
    1. re: mickyme
      e
      Eric Eto Feb 18, 2003 10:12 PM

      There were several variety of bacon-like meats there. Here's what it says on the label:

      Bacon/Boczek
      Baked/Pieczony

      It's not all that smokey, but very moist and flavorful.

      1. re: Eric Eto
        m
        mickyme Feb 18, 2003 10:51 PM

        I googled and I got a recipe for those interested.
        It doesn't sound like Muncan's, but their slightly smoked one is good, too.

        Link: http://www.outernetweb.com/recipes/gr...

        1. re: Eric Eto
          k
          Katerina Feb 19, 2003 04:35 PM

          Ha! The Polish "boczek" is the Czech "bucek" (with a little circle over the u and a tiny "v" over the c; pronounced boo-check, or maybe boo-czech), and it means roughly "little side". So, it's from the side of the pig. We Eastern Europeans ("New Europe", ya know) eat this stuff all the time. Fry eggs on it, eat it in sandwiches and as filling in potato dumplings (washed down by beer.) When McDonald's first came to Prague, people were very lukewarm about the burgers, so they introduced - I kid you not - a McBucek, which was a burger topped with a slice or two of bucek. I never had it was became pretty popular for a while - but I think they discontinued it in 1998 or so.

      2. s
        Suzanne Feb 18, 2003 05:28 PM

        I found extraordinary bacon recently at the Irish butcher in Sunnyside on Queens Boulevard next door to Bloom's. Its the first place I've found in this country that has Irish bacon not in packages. My husband is a Brit and loves his English breakies. So I consider this a real find. If you're into bacon, you should give this a try. They also have black pudding and Irish sausages, not to mention a variety of Irish/British packaged products. I've also been told that their hot take-out lunches are very good, although I haven't tried them myself.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Suzanne
          e
          Eric Eto Feb 18, 2003 10:16 PM

          The place is calle The Butcher Block. I've been going there for other items, but for some reason, I forget about the bacon. Thanks for the reminder. As an aside, I really want to like the food at the Butcher Block, but I've found most things I've gotten really bland and salty. The saturday special stuffed roast pork loin looks great, tastes eh.

          1. re: Eric Eto
            c
            Captain Feb 19, 2003 12:17 PM

            What is the cross street? Even an approximation would really help.

            1. re: Eric Eto
              e
              Eric Eto Feb 19, 2003 01:09 PM

              Queens Blvd near 41st St in Sunnyside

          2. w
            wrayb Feb 28, 2003 02:57 AM

            I was Eric's accompaniest.
            W-Nassau Meat MKT Inc
            915 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11222
            (718) 389-6149

            Most readers of this board understand. When Mr. Eto leads, you follow. Particularly when pork is the destination. Along that stretch of Manhattan Ave there are 4 or 5 butchers, I forget the number. I will return to visit and sample from the others, but this place seemed to have an amazing depth and range to their meat products. At the back of the store, the head of the line that went all the way out the door, was a butcher cutting fresh meat to order. There were countless cured sausages hanging from hooks above the counter and uncooked sausages (and other meats) filling the cooler running the length of the store.

            I saw some cured meat hanging that reminded me of the tasso I used to buy back home in Louisiana with the deep red of the spices coating it. Beyond that I had no clue and asked for a pound, sliced. On the label:
            bacon / boczek
            ????? / sur. wedzony
            (can remember if it said cured or smoked)

            It turned out not to be as spicy as tasso but I will never ever buy typical bacon from a grocery store again. I had it pan fried, wrapped it around the large fist sized cabbage stuffed with meatball that I had also purchased there and placed it under the broiler (that was heavenly!!!, no wait, i mean supernal!!!) and finally used it in the dish I can only cook when I have access to top quality pork products: jambalaya.

            Only one limitation, if your cooking goal is to get lots of bacon grease for some other cooking purpose, you won't find it here. It only shrinks about 10-15%. Just barely enough fat for it to be bacon and have a bacon taste.

            Eric, keeping to his bacon topic, didn't mention the sausages we purchased. Both were very good as well. The idea of jambalaya filled me as soon as I entered W Nassau and smelled the spices and cured meats. So I told them that I wanted a sausage to use for cooking that had lots and lots of garlic. I don't know if they understood me. What they gave me was labelled mysliwska and the label said it had both pork and beef. Very Very good. Meaty and full of flavor. The jambalaya came out great by the way. Next time I'll share, maybe.

            I can understand why Eric focused his comments on the baked bacon he got. It was like eating the juiciest most flavorful ham you could imagine. It's great to slice and eat as is and I am thinking that any Chinese recipe that uses pork would be "kicked up to notches unknown." Sorry folks, that big thread in the Not about Food board about food words has infected me.

            Oh, lordy. I just realized that my fridge is empty of pork. Maybe I better go there tomorrow, it's so crowded on Saturdays.

            wray

            1. j
              JTBONES Feb 6, 2010 11:00 PM

              Being a Polish Chicagoan, what you have just decribed was Cygan Bacon..Otherwise known as Gypsy Bacon.. It comes in a slab like a ham and the stuff we get here is Double smoke..Tasty stuff my man..Bobeks in Chicago sells it..I think you can find it online.

              1. m
                micki Feb 7, 2010 11:56 AM

                I hate to burst the bubble but the bacon at Luger's is Boar' s Head sliced thick.

                5 Replies
                1. re: micki
                  s
                  StheJ Feb 7, 2010 12:33 PM

                  I highly doubt that's true... Do you have some sort of proof? Like you saw the boar's head truck in the back alley? You can't come with something like this and not provide back up.

                  1. re: StheJ
                    m
                    micki Feb 7, 2010 12:36 PM

                    It is true. I know someone in the restaurant.

                    1. re: micki
                      s
                      StheJ Feb 7, 2010 12:51 PM

                      And you're sure they're not lying to you? I've had lots of Boars Head Bacon and none of it tasted like Luger's. I think they were playing a trick on you...

                      1. re: StheJ
                        m
                        micki Feb 7, 2010 01:06 PM

                        I'm not going to argue with you about it. If you don't want to believe it don't. End of my part of the discussion.

                        1. re: micki
                          s
                          StheJ Feb 7, 2010 01:26 PM

                          Well... I certainly could believe that someone told it to you and you believed it, but I absolutely do not believe that it's true from a purely taste perspective.

                2. monikamost Feb 8, 2010 02:02 PM

                  I have spent many an evening missing this bacon, as we Poles usually slice it, and other cured and smoked meat, up onto a platter and serve it for "Kolacja" or midnight snack. But not I don't eat meat anymore and I still kind of miss it... The best Greenpoint butcher is the one on Manhattan between Java and Kent- it's really skinny and you can barely tell it's a butcher- the front window is covered in paper relaying the prices and sales. I assure you it is wonderful- my parents wait in the line for "kabanos" a jerky-ish long string of sausage and the boczek- the slab bacon. I buy their products for my boyfriend sometimes and he raves on it. Fresh Polish sausage was my favorite- it's more like Italian sausage and you boil then fry it. "Szynka" or ham is pretty wonderful too.

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