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Bacon Challenge - need help from bacon afficionados!

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The Hickory Smoked Sugar Cured Bacon from Swiss Meat & Sausage Company has been THE bacon in our house for the past year since I got a sample pak from the Grateful Palate among the other bacon products as one of hubby's Christmas gifts. After tasting all, we decided this particular one from SMSC is our favorite and have been ordering it a few times ever since. We like that it has the right balance of sweet and savory in taste and the fat to lean ratio is also just right.

Since bacon is one of hubby's "passion", I plan to organize a bacon taste test right in our home kitchen to hopefully discover other excellent bacon in addition to the one from SMSC. However, now our expectation is high - we are looking for a bacon that is, if not better, at least just as good as the ones from SMSC.

My challenge is to find 3 to 5 mail-order suppliers who specialize and are known for their bacon - to be specific, they have to be "Crème de la Crème" in the bacon world. So I can order to have their signature bacon delivered to our door for the bacon taste test event I am planning for hubby. Please recommend the mail order sources that you bacon afficionados have been ordering bacon from as well as the specific product you are addicted to.

Many thanks in advance!!

PS. If any of you who share a passion for bacon happen to be located in Chicagoland and are interested in taking part in the bacon taste test to be hosted in our home, feel free to drop me a line. I suspect we will end up having more bacon than the two of us can consume and may be able to share ... it is just too sinful to eat that much bacon ourselves!

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  1. My favorite bacon is Nueske -- I like the slab bacon so I can have it cut as thick as I want. http://www.nueskes.com/products/bacon...

    7 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      Yup. Neuske makes one of the very best in the country. It is higher in cost per pound, but it also shrinks far less than other bacons (Nueske uses lean Canadian pigs and feeds them barley instead of corn), so the it's only slightly higher per pound. Wonderful cure, wonderful smoky flavor. Deserves a try.

      Also try Niman

      1. re: maria lorraine

        I was disappointed in Niman bacon products until a few months ago when I tried their dry-cured applewood-smoked center cut bacon. It's very, very good. Their other bacons I wouldn't bother with. It's very reasonably priced at Trader Joe's.

        I forgot to mention that the original poster might be able to find the Nueske at a retail butcher -- especially in the Chicago area -- instead of having to mail order it. The butcher near my house carries it, so I can satisfy my craving by going in and having them cut a couple of thick slices instead of buying more than I should eat! It's so satisfying that a couple of slices go a long way.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          For years my staple had been the no nitrates Niman's applewood bacon I normally get from TJ's, but lately we liked the Fresh & Easy British Back Bacon better. I guess that doesn't help the OP, but I would suggest trying a British Back Bacon from another supplier in Chicago.

          Tried Neuske, but I found it too smokey and meaty. My preference is for the very lightly smoked, and not too lean/crispy.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Second the Niman Ranch applewood from TJ's.

          2. re: maria lorraine

            I'm on the Nueske bandwagon, as well.

          3. re: Ruth Lafler

            Sounds great. I have not heard of them, but appreciate the URL. Gotta' try some. Just found a smoke house in Tennessee (sell to Blackberry Farm), and I'll list them, as soon as wife gets back, as I do not recall the name - very, very good, plus "country hams."

            Still trying to find the smokehouse that provides a local resort with their "applewood smoked, thick-sliced bacon," but all calls and e-mails have gone un-returned.

            Good topic, I'll be watching this one to learn a thing, or two.

            Hunt

            1. re: Bill Hunt

              Blackberry Farm is where I was introduced to Benton's, and I assume they're still the provider. Just outrageously good.

          4. Just for fun, when purchasing the bacon for the taste test, go to your local supermarket and find the cheapest brand of bacon available there. Peak in the back of the packages at the representative slice until you find one that looks pretty good, and buy it.

            The cheap bacon may not win the contest, but you might be surprised at how well it compares with the more expensive stuff. I know that I was!

            1. This sounds like a great idea! You have to report back!

              I don't have a lot of experience with mail-order bacon, but I would suggest trying the Dakin's Farm bacon from Vermont. Very tasty bacon.

              1. One word: Bentons! They are located in Tenn. I am addicted to their bacon

                2 Replies
                1. re: gatun

                  Benton's was also my immediate thought when I read the original post. Outrageously good.

                  1. re: gatun

                    Oh thank you! I do not have to wait for my wife to return from So. Cal. Bentons, that is it. They do several products, that appear in Blackberry Farm's menus, and all were excellent - the bacon, the ham and the "country ham."

                    One of the best bacons that I have ever tasted - next to that served at Los Caballos in Wickenburg, AZ, but they will not tell me their provider.

                    Hunt

                  2. Edwards Hickory Smoked Sliced Bacon from Virginiatraditions.com - delicious

                    1. The very best I've tried this year was the slab bacon from Broadbent's, located in Cadiz, KY. Just because they're longtime prize-winners in both the ham and bacon categories, and they're cheaper than either of my other favorites (Early's and Loveless), I put in a trial order for two 2-lb. rolls of sausage and a 1-lb. slab of bacon. The sausage was good, the bacon incredible - just the right amount of smoke, lovely dry-cured meaty flavor. I bought some local stuff (from Schreiner's, in Montrose CA) for holiday use, but I'm gonna place another Broadbent's order really soon.

                      http://www.broadbenthams.com

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Will Owen

                        I heartily second the recommendation for Broadbent's. I gave my husband a boxful of Broadbent's pork love for Christmas – 2 2-lb. sacks of sausage and 2 lbs. each of their 3 styles of bacon. All are excellent. Good smoke flavor that doesn't obscure the porky goodness.

                        That sausage – it makes me weak in the knees.

                        1. re: GG Mora

                          The sausage was especially pleasing, because I'd brought some Mayo's back with me from Nashville and found it repellently smoky, not nearly as good as I remembered. I took a chance on the Broadbent's and came up a big winner - used it for everything from the breakfast menu to the chestnut stuffing on Thanksgiving. I do wish I'd gotten the 2-lb. slab of bacon - that's what I'll get with my next order. Need to try their ham, too.

                      2. How smokey do you like your bacon? Very hickory-smoked or fruitwood smoked? How complex a cure flavor do you like? Those are key questions.

                        For my taste, I don't care for Nueske's - far too smokey, obscures the flavor of the meat (which I consider a bad thing).

                        Niman Ranch actually is too wishy washy for me. Can't stand Applegate Farms - tastes oddly artificial to me (shock of shocks).

                        Of the smokier bacons, I rely on Schaller & Weber's double-smoked bacon for slab bacon. It's what goes into my baked beans when I want that flavor rather than salt pork.

                        For straight eating, I have grown to rely on the thick center cut Wellshire Farms bacons. A very pure flavor with great meat/fat ratio and superior texture. Available in many natural foods stores, including Whole Foods.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Karl S

                          Karl, thanks for your suggestions by the level of smokiness. We prefer bacon with enough smokiness to make it "bacony" but not too overly smoky to prevent us from tasting the meat - moderately smoked, I would say. And like you, we use smokier ones in stock instead of eating them straight.

                        2. I like Nueske's. Great quality, minimal fat. That being sdaid, saving the drippings and frying some thin slices of potato to go along with your bacon is a FINE way to start the day.
                          I bought Niman ranch: Very good, but a little too sweet.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Westy

                            People commenting on Niman Ranch should note that Niman makes several different bacon products. Their uncured bacons are not very good, but the *dry-cured* version I like a lot. TJ's carries both, so you have to read the label to get the right one.

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              Thanks - I'll have to pay more attention.

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                You meant the one cured with nitrates versus no nitrates (celery juice instead)?

                                I guess it's all individual tastes, but I liked the no nitrates one, but maybe that tastes less like what most considered as the bacon "standard".

                                1. re: notmartha

                                  Yes. The "no-nitrites" Niman Bacon (actually celery has loads of nitrates, just natural ones) tastes far less like bacon.

                                  At my Trader Joe's the Niman Ranch Dry-Cured Applewood Smoked is a steal at
                                  $4.99 for 12 ounces.

                            2. For all of you bacon aficionados: what is your cooking method? I love bacon, but alas, my husband does not (sob!). I envy you, formosalily! I like it very crisp. I don't like it so lean that it's chewy. When I was a kid my mother used to make a pound of bacon every morning for us five kids. She baked it in the oven on the broiler pan. It shrunk very little and was nice and crispy. Of course in those days she only used plain 'ol store-bought bacon--nothing fancy schmancy.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: Squeezer

                                Pan fried in a cast iron pan. I don't like baking it or microwaving it. I like the effect that the rendered fat in the pan helps to cook the meaty part to be slightly chewy, with fatty parts still crispy.

                                1. re: notmartha

                                  I bake it on a rimmed baking sheet, not on a rack, so the bacon actually fries in the rendered fat.

                                2. re: Squeezer

                                  Actually, many, many years ago, we were gifted a "bacon cooker." To get an idea of the genre, it was avacado green, which was in vogue, back then. It languished in a cabinet for years, and one day, my wife decided to try it. It looked like a toaster, that opened, clam-shell fashion, and the bacon was placed on a central thin metal cover to the heating unit. You closed the clam-shell and set the timer. The drippings were caught in a tray, for later use, and the bacon was cooked very evenly. We were amazed at how good a job it did. Only drawback was that the bacon came out rather "U-shaped." We used this device for 20 years, until the heating unit died. There seemed to be no way to repair it, as all shops just looked at it with curiosity - back before the Internet. Finally, it went off to Goodwill. I have yet to see another like it, and wife usually does the bacon in either a cast-iron skillet, or the microwave, with layers of paper towels. Only problem with the mic variation is that you do not get the drippings to use, how you might wish - can you say black-eyed peas?

                                  I, too am a "crispy" person and use the upper rack on my grill to do most of the non-breakfast bacon, that we have. I have to monitor it, but it's great. I like to put lean beef patties, beneath the bacon, so you get some flare-ups on the lower level. Still, no drippings to use.

                                  Hunt

                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                    My goodness! i remember this device! My parents had one! It made really good crispy bacon... When I was younger, I had no idea you could cook bacon any other way. And I think ours was avocado green too. Thank you Bill! That post opened up a few wonderful forgotten memories from my childhood....

                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                      I bought one of those - still in its box and apparently never used - at an estate sale several years ago. This one had a chrome finish. I used it a few times and liked the bacon it cooked, plus the fact that the bacon fat was nice and clear and not burnt. However, it was just too much fiddling around, and it took up enough counter space to be in the way, so I put it back with the rest of the Owen Museum of Culinary Power Tools (now resident in the garage). And then earlier this year, after I'd mentioned this device on another CH thread, I got an email from a man in Alabama who'd lost his Baconer some years before in a house fire, and had been looking all over for another one. I sold it to him for a price that was dirt cheap to him and a 1000% profit for me, my favorite kind of deal. I hope they're happy together...

                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                        I'm sure it's waaaay too late to help now, but did you check out Goodwill after you donated the bacon cooker? *SOMETIMES,* when you can't get something repaired, donate it, they repair it, you buy it back. It's not infalible, but when it works it's almost always very well repaired and usually cheaper than a repair bill would have been.

                                        I remember avacado green. I think I saw an ad for the bacon cooker. I think avacado green is younger than turqoise. '-)

                                      2. re: Squeezer

                                        We do our bacon in a skillet. But, we cleave to the confit idea of poaching in fat, and so keep our "good fat" from preivously cooked bacon, and use it to slowly poach the bacon. The fat on the cooking bacon renders, adds to the "good fat" it's in, and the draining process lends a lovely crispy strip of bacon. Crispy, but not tough. (Item: we cook the bacon less if we're going to chop it for quiche, say...) Cook bacon sloooow if you're using this method. And enjoy.

                                      3. I like Flying Pigs Farms. It's a bit leaner than most bacon.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                          Surprised no one has mentioned Burgers Smokehouse. I've tried Nueskes, etc and really like Burgers the best. Plus they have a zillion different varieties.

                                        2. Best bacon around is the Applewood Smoked Bacon from Oscar's Smokehouse.
                                          The smoked fish and turkey are also outstanding!

                                          http://www.oscarssmokedmeats.com/

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: cook152

                                            Agree. I have made a few visits to Oscar's. It is a place that hopefully will stay open for many generations to come.

                                          2. I'm a great fan of Petit Jean (pronounced petty gene) bacon from Petit Jean Meats in Morrilton, Arkansas. The last time I was back in AR I brought 10 lbs back in a cooler. I think you can mail order it.

                                            www.petitjeanmeats.com

                                            1. Such an evil thread... diet has no chance.... must buy bacon...must eat bacon...

                                              10 Replies
                                              1. re: moh

                                                It is evil to like bacon so much (hubby is also nicknamed "Dr. Evil"...for reasons other than bacon though:) you are welcome to join us when we taste test the bacon if you are in Chicago .... because we do have the challenge finding people who would publicly admit their love for bacon... (we were just discussing about this on our way home from work just now.)

                                                1. re: formosalily

                                                  Really? I thought everyone loved bacon. Bacon is, in fact, one of the few things that some vegetarians will "cheat" for. BTW, don't forget to save all that yummy bacon fat -- in addition to cooking, you can make cookies: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/04/sty...

                                                  I made them and they were great. Furthermore, you can make the dough, divide it into smaller chunks and freeze them, so you limit the amount of temptation you have on hand. I divided it into quarters, baked one quarter (ten cookies), froze the dough and then took it out and baked up the rest of the cookies to take to a party.

                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                    That's a BRILLIANT idea!!! Thanks a a lot, Ruth!

                                                    We will surely have A LOT of bacon fat left over after the taste test. I just told hubby that we should make these cookies, bring them to work, give them to those people who despise bacon (for its being fat=unhealthy food), and then when they comment how good these cookies taste ... tell them "are you sure you don't like bacon? because that's what made these cookies taste so good!"

                                                    Sounds like living with Dr. Evil under one roof has caused me to become just as evil ....

                                                    1. re: formosalily

                                                      With the leftover bacon, you could make praline bacon--it's bacon candy. I first had it at Elizabeth's in New Orleans--bacon sprinkled with brown sugar, chili powder, and pecans and baked in the oven.

                                                      1. re: whs

                                                        yes, "bacon candy" is one of the ways we prepare bacon- especially when we are out of stock and have to buy whatever that is available from the supermarket. (When bacon is REALLY good, IMO it is best to be tasted without any additions.) We normally just use brown sugar, black pepper and chili powder.

                                                        1. re: formosalily

                                                          I was wondering if it could be "bumped up" using cayenne and garlic, along with the sweet stuff. Will have to experiment.

                                                    2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                      LOL. I have a pile of bacon fat on a dish next to my stove - leftovers when I fried up 3 packages of bacon for a holiday potluck. I'll have to bake some of those cookies as an experiment.

                                                      So far the only ways I've used them up is to stir some into beef stew, and for stirfrying collard greens.

                                                      1. re: notmartha

                                                        Speaking of beef stew, Jacquilynne suggested that the bacon fat ginger cookies would be great to use as the gingersnaps in sauerbraten: http://www.thespicehouse.com/recipes/...

                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                          Thanks Ruth! Love, love, love sauerbraten, with spatzle and red cabbage. Have to make that with the cookies...

                                                  2. re: moh

                                                    Hum. Bacon is OK in the low carb diet (which unfortunately I have to go back on).

                                                  3. North Country Smokehouse has a fantastic applewood smoked bacon--the smoked Canadian bacon if excellent too--great chopped up and mixed with grits!
                                                    http://ncsmokehouse.com/products.php?...

                                                    1. Try the following website and their phone number: http://www.ansci.umn.edu/meatlab/pork...

                                                      I live literally on the lap of the Univerity of Minnesota farm campus, and their pig products are spectacular. I do not know if they ship, so email to the address on the websaie. The bacon is wonderful, and yes, I am an afficionado. I have hiked up to the source just to get the ends-and-pieces, which are meaty beyond belief (um...adding oil to saute bacon...).

                                                      I'd be willing to get you some, if time is not a big issue. Check my profile: the "blog" is my email.

                                                      BTW, I am always thinking that someone should make a bacon cologne. A dab behind the ears and...:-

                                                      )

                                                      Cay

                                                      19 Replies
                                                      1. re: cayjohan

                                                        How cool to say "I get my bacon from the Department of Animal Science at the University of Minnesota"

                                                        1. re: cayjohan

                                                          No need for perfume. I don't know about you, but after I fry up a batch of bacon my hair just smells like bacon for a bit...

                                                          1. re: cayjohan

                                                            It's very nice of you to offer to get me some bacon from UMN, Cay. Thanks a lot! I will certainly check out their website.

                                                            By the way, in your profile you said you wish you could have a wok pit with gas pipe... guess what, we DO have a wok pit at home and you are welcome to experience it if you happen to be in Chicago! ; )

                                                            1. re: formosalily

                                                              Wow. Bacon tastings and a wok pit... I am in awe. I like your priorities! If I were in Chicago or even driving distance, I'd take you up on your invitiation to join the bacon tasting. You will have to report back on the event!

                                                              1. re: moh

                                                                Hi Moh, hubby and I are the only "kids" in our home and we simply have too much fun in our playground - the kitchen! Here is a picture of hubby explaining to our guests who's never seen a real-life wok pit until visiting our kitchen. Let me know if you are going to be in this area, it will be fun to have a bacon tasting with foodie friends whom I know through this forum!

                                                                 
                                                                1. re: formosalily

                                                                  That is a great set-up formosalily! my hubby and i were just recently discussing the joys of "wok hai", and bemoaning the fact that we don't seem to be able to acheive it at home. We are getting closer to it though, he just made a vegetable dish that had it, first time ever. I suspect that the wok pit is the way to go. I am impressed by the vent, it looks powerful. And I couldn't tell in the picture, is that a wine fridge? Or some other kind of fridge? Love that playground! Chicago is one of our favorite cities, so i am hoping we'll have another conference there soon...

                                                                  1. re: moh

                                                                    moh, I went to Montreal twice in the name of "conference" with the secret agenda of seeking out great chocolate croissant and eating at Au Pied de Cochon, etc..during my spare time. No trip can be good without great food!

                                                                    We know we can't install a wok pit without a powerful vent. Our vent hood is 1300 cfm with external blower, which does a beautiful job to keep the greasy odor and noise out of the house. The refrigerator with glass door is just a normal refrigerator where you can see our milk, leftovers, dairy, veggies, etc. (hubby has this seem-to-be-crazy idea to get a fridge with glass door in order to see where everything is placed before opening the door, which turns out to be a brilliant idea. ; ) I will be happy to welcome you into our playground if you in the area!

                                                                    1. re: formosalily

                                                                      Ohh, 1300 cfm... (i guess this is how guys feel about cars). Our vent is not powerful enough, and so occassionally our smoke alarm gets set off. Loud buzzing of the fire alarm, phone rings with call from alarm company, hubbie dragging in the air purifier, me flapping newspapers at the sensor... chaos. I can see you are well equipped to handle the Great Bacon Cook-Off!
                                                                      The fridge door is very cool. It also might shame us into using all of our crazy leftovers, as they would be on display for the world to see!!
                                                                      If "conferences" bring you our way again, would love to chow with you here in Montreal!

                                                                  2. re: formosalily

                                                                    Man - I want your fridge! do you mind if I ask what it is?

                                                                    1. re: gridder

                                                                      Not at all... it is Frigidaire Commercial refrigerator with glass door and freezer (two separate units).

                                                                      1. re: formosalily

                                                                        Thanks! Beautiful!

                                                                        1. re: formosalily

                                                                          I'm on the downhill end of remodeling my kitchen and I gave *very* serious consideration to glass doors. In the end, I came to grips with the fact that a display case for half empty dairy cartons and zip lock bags of leftovers was not the design impact I was looking for. Let's face it. I am not the world's most fastidious refrigerator keeper, and I rarely have a lovely cake on a footed plate to display.

                                                                          Don't know if they're still available, but a couple of years ago one of the major manufacturers introduced a high-end refrigerator with a full-door LED screen on the front of it that displayed a life-size picture of the current contents of the refrigerator, as taken by the in-door camera the last time the door was closed. I couldn't believe the stupidity of it, especially at the price asked. A glass door is so much cheaper!

                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                            Glass isn't a particularly good insulator, though. Also, you can't have a water/ice dispenser on the front or shelves/bins on the inside of the door, although I guess the refrigerator as you described it doesn't, either. Also, on a glass-door fridge, where do you stick the cartoons, shopping lists, emergency phone numbers, "artwork," etc.?

                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                              All of the glass refrigerator doors I've ever seen are double or triple pane, and very well insulated. But it was the no-shelves-in-the-doors thing that was as much of a deterent as the mess I'd have to look at all the time.

                                                                              Though I did consider under-counter refrigerators and freezers. You do gain counter space that way, but then you lose under-counter cabinet space. Ultimately I couldn't afford to lose the cabinet space. This is my first kitchen in thirty-some years where I don't have room for a ceiling rack to hang pots and pans, and no hope for one. <sigh>

                                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                I know -- every time I see a chef on TV reach into one of those under-counter refrigerators, I think it's a good idea, although come to think of it, what that would mean for me is that even more stuff would get lost out of sight in the back.

                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                  Not necessarily. The models I really like have two drawers! And you can configure the drawers to your liking. But it's really difficult to replace a full "normal" refrigerator with them. I would have had to install three refrigerator units, one ice-maker unit, and a wine unit, and that would have taken up one wall of my kitchn. In the end it was a lot more practical to go with a side-by-side with ice and water in the door and a full size freezer in the walk-in pantry. But there are still times when I wish I had gone for it.

                                                                  3. re: formosalily

                                                                    Yikes! As moh said, a wok pit and bacon tastings..Wooooh! ( I have good visiting-worthy friends in Oak Park. Be careful what you wish for with invites. :-) )

                                                                    Please, please, please report on your bacon tasting...sounds delicious.

                                                                    Cay

                                                                    1. re: cayjohan

                                                                      Hi Cay, if you ever get to Oak Park, you are not that far from us and welcome to stop by for wok test drive and bacon tasting! ; ) I am getting ready to order some of the bacon being recommended in this thread and will surely report back!

                                                                      1. re: formosalily

                                                                        Wow, thanks - that's so beautifully kind of you!!!

                                                                        Cay

                                                                2. I recommend the black peppered bacon from Nodine's Smokehouse in Torrington CT. My wife bought me some a couple years ago, and it was excellent. It can be ordered right from their website. http://www.nodinesmokehouse.com/bacon...

                                                                  I've also had great luck with bacon purchased from the local giant chain grocery store... not the pre-packed vacuum-sealed stuff, but the strips from the deli case. See how it looks at your local grocer... it could be your unnamed mystery sample.

                                                                  A bacon tasting sounds like a great idea. Your house will smell wonderful for days. Wish we lived closer and could join you!

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: man of salt

                                                                    I like the bacon from Amana meats in Iowa. Great taste for me.

                                                                  2. Gosh, I'm just loving this thread!

                                                                    There have been many references to the "Bacon of the Month" club on CH, including
                                                                    some posts on how to find out what their selections are. Here's the CH search as
                                                                    a resource:
                                                                    http://www.chow.com/search?search%5Bq...

                                                                    Try as I might, I've never quite found a perfume that moved me as much as bacon frying or vanilla extract. Perhaps bacon fat behind my ears, vanilla on my wrists!

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                      If you're ever in Portland, Maine, have the bacon ice cream at Fore Street--just the right balance of bacon and vanilla.

                                                                    2. Nueske's all the way! I make my bacon in the oven. I take it out before it gets too crisp and I achieve a chewiness with a little crunch that I never got atop the stove and avoid the grease.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: gabby29

                                                                        This is our one and only way for cooking bacon for straight eating too - arrange a single layer on a wire rack and played in a jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degree for 20 mins or so. Bacon always turns out just with the right amount of crispiness and chewiness, and all the delicious fat is trapped in the parchment paper for whatever uses later.

                                                                      2. Try Calhoun's Country Side Meat. Calhoun's makes the best ham I've found in the states, haven't tried the side meat, but I bet if you sliced it like bacon it'd be supreme!
                                                                        http://www.calhounhams.com/

                                                                        1. For what it's worth, Zingermans in Ann Arbor has a bacon of the month club. I was considering that as a Christmas present for my bacon-loving SO, but thought it was too pricey for my tastes. It might be worth looking at their web site (for the on-line store) to see what kinds of bacon they will be providing.

                                                                          1. Gosh, I am drooling here...I loooove bacon in any shape or form. I usually get the Neiman ranch applewood smoked one, but am planning on trying some of your suggestions.

                                                                            BTW, one of my childhood memories is a bacon sandwich polish style. My mom would BOIL a whole slab (abount a pound) of bacon, cooled it down, then put it in the fridge until it got completely cold. We would slice it very thinly and put a few pieces on a good rye/caraway seed bread with some mustard. Boy, was it heavenly.....

                                                                            1. So it's time for me to report the finalists (drum roll please)...

                                                                              - Nueske
                                                                              - Niman
                                                                              - Brenton's
                                                                              - Broadbent's
                                                                              - Oscar's

                                                                              Just placed our bacon orders with all of the above companies except Niman which I hope to find in local trader joes. The chance for all orders to arrive at the same time is small. So we will taste test one brand at a time as we receive each order, and then do a blind taste on all when we have all of them in our possession!

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: formosalily

                                                                                I still hope that you will at least try throwing a really cheap bacon into the mix, at least when doing a blind taste test. Might not win, but I still bet that it wouldn't finish last...

                                                                                1. re: Clarkafella

                                                                                  You bet we will! ; ) We are likely to throw in Farmland, which is available in supermarket and is Cooks Illustrated's supermarket bacon taste test winner.

                                                                                  1. re: formosalily

                                                                                    I so can't wait to hear the results of your quest. i'm going to pick up the Niman's from TJ this week.

                                                                                    1. re: formosalily

                                                                                      Good for you! I really like the sound of this party. Enjoy!

                                                                                2. I saw a Bacon cookbook at Williams Sonoma and laughed out loud. You should check it out.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: Budser1228

                                                                                    Thanks for the suggestion, Budser1228. You just gave me an idea what to get for my bacon-loving hubby for Valentine's day! ;)

                                                                                  2. Thought I would let you all know that our long over due taste test report is finally out!

                                                                                    Here it is... http://www.chowhound.com/topics/498219

                                                                                    1. Interesting to see all of the suggestions. I just posted results from a blind bacon tasting at 18 Reasons with Zingerman's Ari Weinzweig. Bi-Rite, Broadbent, and Benton's were at the top. Niman's was near the bottom.