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Best bacon in San Diego?!

Just got done having our first pkg of bacon from the Linkery, and all we can say is WOW. By far the best bacon I have ever had. Lightly smoked, plenty of actual meat, complex flavors from the honey and smoke...outstanding!

I usually get the bacon from Siesel's, and like the bulk applewood smoked bacon from Vons, but the Linkery stuff blew us away. Anyone else try it yet?

FWIW, here is how I have been cooking the bacon lately: Heat the oven to 375-400F, place the bacon on a wire cooke rack, place that on a cookie sheet (with walls), and cook about 15 minutes without flipping. The elevated rack enables the fat to render and drip away, and both sides crisp so you don't have to flip. Healthier than pan frying, but just as tasty, and the best part: no grease splatter!

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  1. That's exactly how I cook my bacon. You also end up with flatter, more symmetrical bacon. And each slice is evenly cooked and crispier. As for restaurant bacon, The Big Kitchen in South Park is the only restaurant I've been to that got it right. I asked for very crisp, almost burnt, and they got it right. Thanks, Judy!!!

    1. Tip Top Meats in Carlsbad has great bacon.

      2 Replies
      1. re: SDGourmand

        Tip Top Meats is one of my regular stops when I'm passing through the Carlsbad area because I love the fact that they're an old fashioned family owned German butcher shop which does everything right on site. Their bacon is top notch, thick cut, and they have some creative flavors available too if someone is looking for something different.

        1. re: oerdin

          Tip Top's double-smoked slab bacon.

      2. Has anyone tried their country ham? Is it anything like Smithfield ham? (not the brand, but the ham from Smithfield County, Virginia)

        1. You should look into the chacuterie book from Ruhlman. It is quite easy to make your own bacon which gives you also the chance to play around with different ingredients/taste profiles and gives you also the best control about the meat source itself. My wife and I are just in the process to start to explore the world of homemade chacuterie and cheese. Bacon will be one of our first projects.

          1 Reply
          1. re: honkman

            I absolutely agree - both on the Charcuterie rec and on making your own bacon.

            Pork belly is inexpensive and reasonably easy to get - we've been happy with bellies from both Siesel's and Ranch 99. Even better - get some jowls from Da-Le Ranch at the Little Italy Farmers Market and make your own Guanciale...

          2. I know this may sound like sacrilege, but we get our bacon from the meat counter at Albertsons - in fact, it's usually the only reason we shop there. Generally runs about 3.29/lb. The bacon has plenty of fat but doesn't shrink down like packaged bacon. And it's about half the price!

            3 Replies
            1. re: mimosa

              I agree with Albertson's. Not really "gourmet" bacon, but so much better than the packaged kinds. Also, nicely smoked, and sliced thick. Much easier to run to Albertson's for a quick bacon fix.

              1. re: JesterSD

                I picked up some Albertson's bacon after a visit to O'briens a week ago or so. Definitely better than any of the packaged bacon but I didn't find it as interesting as the stuff from Vons (and nowhere near the LInkery bacon).

                Nice option though if you are getting stuff at Albertsons

                1. re: MrKrispy

                  I try to get the butcher to slice it thick for me or at a minimum, I'll but pre-cut thick smokey bacon that I bake in the oven with cracked pepper. I don't like that paper thin stuff that you can see through.

            2. I remember cooking bacon in the oven a long time ago when I had a large number of unexpected guests for breakfast. It works, but if you want perfectly flat bacon with the appealing texture that comes from weighted cooking (as in chicken under a brick), use a cast-iron bacon press, available at many kitchen-supply stores. Mine -- which I purchased either at Kitchen Fantasy in Temecula or at Surfas' in Culver City -- just fits inside a 14" cast-iron skillet with straight sides and produces great results every time.

              1. Yes, I say, yes. I am eating a BLY made with the Linkery bacon and it is the best BLT I've ever had. The stuff's not cheap, but it is delicious.

                1. Bacon being the best food item in the world (it should have its own section in the Food Pyramid), it is worth a little more $$$.

                  I have been wanting to make my own for years but I don't have a way to smoke it. We aren't allowed to smoke foods due to the proximity of the neighbors in our complex, per HOA. Bummer.

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: MrKrispy

                    It's also really difficult to find non-commodity pork belly in San Diego. I imagine Da-Le would be a possible source, but buying from Siesel's or Ranch 99 means using commodity pork, and is therefore kind of pointless (IMO).

                    1. re: Josh

                      Isn't most of Iowa Meat Farms umm meat from small farms?

                        1. re: Josh

                          You don't believe so or it isn't? I thought I read somewhere once that they don't sell commodity beef.

                          1. re: DougOLis

                            I guess it was a Naomi Wise article that I was reading about it. I'm not exactly sure what they actually sell but it sounds like it's slightly better than commodity beef (Brandt level?) but definitely not grass fed/pastured (reasons why not given in the article).

                            http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/20...

                            1. re: DougOLis

                              Iowa Meat and Siesel's are old-school shops, like Tip-Top Meats, that earned their rep by selling grain-fed, feedlot meat.

                              I wasn't trying to say one is better than the other in terms of taste, etc. - my point originally was that the followup comments to the original post about Linkery's bacon, about making your own from meat purchased at 99 Ranch or Iowa, were missing a big part of the picture. Part of what makes the bacon at Linkery so good is the quality of the meat itself, and that quality is hugely impacted by the diet of the animal.

                              1. re: Josh

                                But not necessarily in terms of pork at Iowa. They get at least some of their pork from one of the farms (Eden Farms) that the Linkery uses as well. Meaning that even though they might not sell the cut you're looking for directly, they probably have access to it and can get it for you.

                                1. re: DougOLis

                                  Depends on the pork product at Linkery. I know that for the pork sausages, at least this is my recollection, they don't use pastured product. The bacon, ham, and other cured meats do use the pastured stuff. Maybe Jay will chime in and confirm.

                                  1. re: Josh

                                    All the beef, goat, and lamb at the North Park Meat Co (the Linkery's cured meat shop) are 100% pastured and grassfed.

                                    Pork isn't a ruminant, so the pasture/grass issue is a little different...All pork at the NPMC shop is from individual farms (as opposed to co-ops) where the farmer raises the pigs outdoors, and gives the pigs no subtherapeutic antibiotics at any age. At the Linkery, all beef, goat and lamb is also 100% pastured and grassfed, and the pork comes from a wider variety of sources (all independent family farms, but each with different pig raising practices).

                                    There's more information on my blog, for the (probably rather few) who are interested in the tiny details.

                      1. re: Josh

                        Iowa Meat Farms at least gets some of their pork products from Eden Farms that is natural Berkshire pork. I don't think they sell pork bellies from there normally but I'm sure they could procure them if you ask.

                        1. re: DougOLis

                          Where is Linkery? I live north of S D so I am there often

                          1. re: imhungry_gene

                            3794 30th St
                            at North Park Way in North Park

                            Map:
                            http://tinyurl.com/c8jzk6

                            -----
                            The Linkery
                            3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

                            1. re: imhungry_gene

                              they aren't open for lunchtime during the week, not sure if the Meat Co is open during the day although I hope it is.

                              1. re: MrKrispy

                                For now the Meat Co is open afternoons Fri-Sun only, and every night after 5, but in the future (sometime later this year) it will be open every day at lunch.

                      2. Anyone know where in San Diego to find so-called Pink Salt (not the Hawaiian stuff, the sodium or potassium nitrate) used for curing bacon? I was given a bag a long while back, and have run out.

                        The only thing I have found is Morton's Tender Cure at Siesel's, but that has regular salt and sugar mixed in...and it is $10 for a small bag.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: MrKrispy

                          I was looking also for it some time ago to make my own bacon and in the end ordered it online.

                          1. re: MrKrispy

                            I posted this question as a thread a month or so ago with the intent of making pastrami and got no suggestions.

                            1. re: MrKrispy

                              yeah, I looked at a few different grocery stores, a Whole Foods, Iowa Meat Farms, and Siesel's. The Morton's Tender Cure would probably work but I haven't read a lot about it specifically used for bacon.

                              What is a good online store?

                            2. @mimosa--You wanna talk sacrilege? The best I've found was a package of bacon ends at California Produce. It sounds odd, even aweful, but true. The pieces were thick and meaty. Not too smokey or salty. Best of all, it was a 1.25 lb package for just a little over $2.

                              1. Not to toot my own horn, or anything, but the best bacon I've had in San Diego is home-smoked at my house. Make it yourself. Homemade bacon makes any purchased bacon seem rather pale in comparison. (You can get the raw materials at Iowa Meat Farms or Ranch 99).

                                1. If people are going to put in Albertson's bacon then surely a mention of Niman ranch is not out of line. Either the cured or non cured are both smoked and delish. Easily available at the trader j.

                                  P.S. Albertson's fried chicken is very tasty.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: SeanT

                                    Basically the only bacon I eat in san diego is on the BLT at gourmet bagger. By far my favorite sandwhich in San Diego and the crisp bacon is amazing on it.

                                  2. Anyone have good recommendations to find quality pork belly in San Diego? Siesel's has been out the last couple of times I was in. The ones in the Asian grocery stores seem to be very small and would only yield a few pieces of bacon. I got Ruhl's book and am starting to do more curing stuff. Thanks for suggestions.

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: MrKrispy

                                      got it at tip top and it was great. was about 10 bucks for a 1ft by 1ft piece

                                      1. re: MrKrispy

                                        The pieces available at Lucky Seafood are pretty small, but 99 Ranch sells it in about 1 foot by 1 foot pieces (slightly larger than the pieces I've gotten at Iowa Meat Farm, and quite a bit cheaper). Just started a batch of bacon last night with some lovely 99 Ranch pork belly. I'll be smoking them on Sunday.

                                        1. re: MrKrispy

                                          I just bought 8 lbs. or Berkshire Pork Belly from Iowa Meat Farms the other day. They don't put the Berkshire pork bellies out but if you ask them for it they'll dig it out. I'm sure that Seisel's has access to the same stuff.

                                          1. re: DougOLis

                                            What's the price on the Berkshire bellies?

                                            1. re: MrKrispy

                                              I believe $4.99/lb but I'll check when I get home

                                          2. The Whole Foods meat counter, not deli, has a bacon that is cured with out water for 7.99 a lb. When cooked it still retains is structural integrity and barely shrinks up. I cook it in the over at 400 for 10-11 minutes, no flipping.

                                            It comes out nice anc chewy.

                                            8 Replies
                                            1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                                              As much as I like the meat counter at WF (LJ) I got some serious doubt how competent the people are over the last few weeks. I was looking for alternative sources for pork belly (to make bacon at home) and had a ten minutes discussion with all four guys there about what pork belly is and that you need it to make bacon. None of them knew what pork belly is and how you make bacon. Last week I was looking for some top blade steaks (to make carbonnade a la flamande) and again not a single person at the meat counter even knew what a top blade steak is and after I showed them their own flat iron steaks they weren't aware of the connection between top blade steak and flat iron steak.
                                              ( In addition we also had some serious issues with their fish counter - I am aware that fish can have worms but it is unusual that you cut open a piece of fish and suddenly see 60-70 worms)

                                              1. re: honkman

                                                ick ick ick, I shop at Hillcrest and I had an experience with one of the meat people, she did not know the difference between the 3 bacons that they were offering.

                                                I have found that the folks in the deli meat area to be knowledgeable and helpful.

                                                The worm part is about to make me hurl. I like Catalina Seafood for my fish.

                                                1. re: honkman

                                                  Yikes - what type of fish was that, Honkman?

                                                    1. re: honkman

                                                      Where they still alive and what did you do. I have this vision of them wriggling on your counter.

                                                      1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                                                        I have a vision of Star Trek episodes when you see strange, alien cuisine.

                                                        Honkman keeps reeling me in, though. Was it the regular (sometimes called "true") cod, or the black cod? We really got into the black cod a few months back. I don't recall seeing any worms, but then again I wonder how closely I looked.

                                                        1. re: RB Hound

                                                          As far as I remember it was regular cod. And to answer NHF questions - all worms were alive and moving (so it looked more like the part of the fish was alive). We threw the fish away and called WF - they apologized and asked as to bring the fish to them to get our money back (which was not possible since we just put it in the garbage).

                                                  1. re: honkman

                                                    Worms, precisely why I never eat swordfish anymore.

                                                2. homegrown meats in la jolla has both pork bacon and wild boar bacon. Just picked up some of the boar bacon and will try it on a club sandwich with diestel deli turkey (that they also sell)-can't wait!
                                                  http://www.homegrownmeats.com/

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: smile81

                                                    Tip Top also has wild boar bacon but they charge half the price because they're a down home old fashioned butcher shop in North County instead of upmarket boutique in La Jolla. The quality is great but the prices are lower so that's why I go there.

                                                  2. Has anyone tried Fletcher's peppered bacon? I think I may have purchased it at Major Market but can't really remember. Anyway, it was delicious.

                                                    1. i don't know what it is but the bacon they put on my burger at C Star is pretty good stuff; am guessing they may sell it in their butcher shop