Bacon Ratings: Niman and Nueske's Tumble; Vande Rose (Duroc) and Nodine's Rise
America's Test Kitchen rates artisanal bacon brands here:
The highest rated bacon two years ago was Niman Dry Cured Applewood Smoked. No longer. It's near the bottom this year. Nueske's (most people either love it or hate it), ranked highly in previous years and made using Canadian hogs fed barley instead of corn for increased lean-ness and less shrinkage, was deemed too fatty and ranked at the very bottom.
Vande Rose, made from Duroc pork bellies, is at the top. And coming in second, Nodine's Smokehouse Apple "Smoke-Flavored" Bacon, whatever that means.
Recent Good Bacon thread:
"Favorite Gourmet Bacon ??"
"ISO: THE BEST HAM AND BACON IN THE WORLD'
'Bacon Challenge - need help from bacon afficionados!' -- Niman, Nueske posts
Oh, how cool--let's hear it for The Land of Steady Habits! Go, Nodine's!
Nodine's is a nice road trip for us (about an hour ride), and we enjoy their bacon and jerky.
Miss Maria Lorraine: <<Nodine's Smokehouse Apple "Smoke-Flavored" Bacon, whatever that means.>> It means this--"smoked with the natural smoke from slow burned dried apple pomace (pulp leftover from cider making) and hickory hardwood, creating a lightly smoked, sweet flavored bacon." Feast your eyes:
Admit it, you wish you could take a ride here, too. ;) What's not to love about "very little shrinkage," either?!
Now for true confessions...I recently discovered Nature's Promise organic bacon and it, too, is damn good.
Strange. Just finished with a package of Vande Rose, which I found overly fatty and a bit too sweet for my tastes. I picked it up as a substitute for Neuske's (which my grocer was out of) - which I prefer because (1) I do love the smokiness and (2) it's significantly meatier (i.e. leaner) than either Vande Rose or Niman.
In fact, when we cook up 4 strips of Neuske's, there's usually a small amount of fat left in the pan; when I cooked up 4 strips of Vande Rose, there was at least 4-5 times more fat in the pan. This is good if you like very crisp bacon, but the Neuske's provides much more meat per strip.
My experience, FWIW.
That's been my experience with Nueske's too -- very little fat in the pan after cooking. Which is why the ATK research that found Nueske's bacon "fatty" was strange, indeed. Thanks for sharing your perceptions. I haven't tried the Vande Rose yet -- not sure I'll like a sweet "cure."
re: maria lorraine
Even though I lived right in Vande Rose country for years (we lived on a farm outside of Oskaloosa, IA from the mid-80's to mid-90's) and our nearest neighbors raised Durocs, I feel no compunction in saying that the Nueske's bacon I just ordered for the first time is the BEST bacon I've ever tasted (aside from the bacon made by a nearby small-scale butcher--but he won't stop using MSG in his cure, so we've sadly quit buying his fragrant, sweet, smoky heavenly pork).
I can't for the life of me figure out why Cooks thought it was "too fatty" unless they cook their bacon to a frazzle, and are used to ending up with the vast majority of the fat content thus cooked away, into grease in their pan. Then, perhaps they calculated the amount of fat cooked off and assumed the Nueske's didn't throw off enough of its (phantom) fat?
Whatever. If one examines Nueske's UNCOOKED, and compares it to most other bacons, you can see with the naked eye just how lean it is...there's so little fat in the pan that the only drawback may be that I can't save enough fat for turnip and collard greens, and cornbread, from the Nueske's. ;-)