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Jun 26, 2007 02:06 PM

Benton's Hickory smoked bacon - major decline in quality?

I have purchased by mail order Benton's bacon, country ham and prosciutto for some time. The last time I ordered I received a reply that shipping would take 5 or so weeks because an article in Saveur touting them has dramatically increased demand. Whn I finally received the order the the quality of the bacon has gone to h--l. Very fatty, major shrinkage, cooks unevenly. To be fair I am going through the 2nd lb to make sure it wasn't an anomaly. I sent them an e-mail of complaint with no reply - it went from 1st on my list of bacons to last. Has anyone else had the same experience?

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  1. Just ordered some bacon and country ham. I'll let you know when they arrive in however many weeks. Hope yours was just a fluke 'cause I've been dying to try it.

    12 Replies
    1. re: dinner belle

      I would hesitate to order from them these days. It seems Allan Benton is making too much bacon and letting things slip.

      I am glad that the articles about Benton's have made artisanal bacon and ham more popular, but people should realize that many people make great bacon - just look around your area/region. You don't have to order from the one place that received nationwide exposure - that defeats the purpose. Just stop buying crappy industrial bacon.

      1. re: spankyhorowitz

        Anyone order from them recently? Has their quality improved?

        1. re: Produce Addict

          After tasting this at a restaurant last night, I was all set to order their smoked bacon--until I read this. Has anyone ordered recently and if so, can you comment on the product?


          1. re: erica

            Haven't had it in years. But have you seen any other quality complaints? I generally put little credence in one-off complaints. I don't even understand why the OP would post that they've gone downhill after one bad batch out of many.

            1. re: donovt

              Coulda been a glitch - sounds to me like a spike in demand caught them flatfooted. Anyway, there are plenty other great ham & bacon sources. My own favorite is Broadbent in Kentucky; a 4-5 lb slab of their hickory smoked is about $30 including shipping out here to California, and that will see me through the holidays. Their ham is a perennial prize-winner, and less expensive than some more commercial brands I have catalogs for.

              1. re: Will Owen

                Thanks! I know next to nothing about bacon; I buy it from a farmer at our local market use it at home only for bacon dressing on dandelions and for making pasta sauce if I do not have pancetta!

                But I had a risotto at The Modern in NYC that had the most incredible smokey flavor and the waiter told me that was the Benton's bacon..hence my query..


                1. re: Will Owen

                  Will, I hope you're recycling the rind in a pot of split pea soup or baked beans like my mom did.

                  1. re: Sharuf

                    C'MON, Sharuf! Unless it's gone rancid or moldy, I do not throw away anything that hath nourishment. It's against my religion. I usually throw a good chunk of the full bacon into any pot of legumes, not just the rind; what I typically do with rind is to chop it up and render it for fat, then either incorporate the fried remnants into some dish or (more likely) salt them lightly and consume them in a contemplative sort of way, as a Cook's Treat, while I'm cooking something.

              2. re: erica

                I've had it in restaurant dishes a few times over the years, and it's always been good, but I bought it at a local specialty store maybe 2-3 months ago and wasn't impressed. That was the first and only time I've bought it for home use, so I can't say whether the quality has dropped off from what it was before, or maybe the stuff they sell to restaurants is better than what the sell to retailers. But I did notice that it was very fatty and the flavor was totally dominated by hickory, very little pork flavor.

                1. re: Buckethead

                  " But I did notice that it was very fatty and the flavor was totally dominated by hickory, very little pork flavor." Several million mid-Southerners would be astonished that anyone might consider this a bad thing, though I see your point. A lot of the dry-cured hickory-smoked meat popular in the mid-South to me tastes too much like licking a greasy ashtray. Even Broadbent's regular smoked country sausage is too smoky for my taste. But their bacon is just smoky enough, and if you like it lighter they also offer applewood and maplewood smoked versions. The fat ratio is fairly high, but that's the nature of bacon.

                2. re: erica

                  I have some coming in the next few days, so I'll hopefully remember to update once it gets here. The wait is no longer 5 weeks, at least.

                  I've also mail ordered Vande Rose Farms applewood smoked bacon in the past, and it was absolutely perfect, but a little pricier per pound.

                  1. re: cowboyardee

                    Check out grateful for some really good bacon. Used to get bacon of the month, but it's been a while so I don't have any specific recommendations.