Thursday, February 17th, 2005

Nothing says “I love you” like bacon

My mom sent me four packages of bacon from the Grateful Palate for Valentine’s! The bacon arrived in Seattle today but wasn’t delivered, so I had to rescue it from the UPS distribution center. When I got home I opened up the box to find a shiny metallic bubble-wrap package. I opened that up to the intense smell of hickory-smoked bacon which nearly knocked me off my feet. The ice pack had completely melted and the bacon was on the verge of getting warm, so I had saved it just in time. Whew.

I had already eaten dinner so I put the bacon in the fridge. After a few minutes, I padded back into the kitchen to check on my bacon. Yep, still in the fridge, right where I left it. After a few more minutes, I got out my Grateful Palate handbook so that I could read the description for each bacon. Then I decided I needed to take pictures of my bacon. Finally I just gave up and cut open every package and reverently removed a slice from each.

Then I did something I’d never thought I’d do. I decided to microwave it. Now before anyone starts yelling about how wrong microwaving bacon is, let me just tell you why. I didn’t want to pan fry them all together because I wanted the integrity of each flavor to stay intact and not commingle. Plus I wanted each slice to be ready at the same time so I could compare and contrast. And using four pans to cook four pieces of bacon seemed ridiculous, even for me.

So I microwaved. I know people swear by this method, but I really do think it’s awful. It smelled like burnt paper towels and smoke. Plus you can’t save the bacon grease for frying other things because it gets embedded in the paper towels and turns into a nasty mess. I’ll never microwave bacon again, but for the purpose of my experiment it worked out well. The slices were nicely browned and somewhat crisp.

I carefully laid the bacon on my plate so that I could tell which was which. I ate half a slice of bacon from top to bottom, then I went back and ate the second half in the reverse order, taking notes along the way.

Meacham Old Fashioned Maple Cured Bacon (MOFMCB)
1st bite: Wow. This is what REAL bacon tastes like. It’s incredibly flavorful. And Juicy.

Burger’s Sugar Cured Bacon (BSCB)
2nd bite: Smoky, but not very sweet.

New Braunfels Comal Country Bacon (NBCCB)
3rd bite: Kind of boring tasting, but good crunch.

Gatton Farms “Dan Phillips Secret Special Cure” (GFDPSSC)
4th bite: Holy crap! This is way too smoky.

5th bite: Still smoky, but now I’m catching overtones of chemicals.
Overall impression: My least favorite. It tasted too smoky and had a gasoline-like aftertaste. Blech.

6th bite: This is really good bacon.
Overall impression: The least smoky of the bunch, not too sweet with a really good texture. My second favorite.

7th bite: I like the thinness and delicacy of this bacon.
Overall impression: Good bacon flavor, smoky with just a hint of sweet. Thin and crisp.

8th bite: Yeah, this is definitely my favorite.
Overall impression: Sweet and smoky with a strong spice that I couldn’t quite place.

I am looking forward to conducting many more bacon taste-tests in the future.


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15 Responses to “Nothing says “I love you” like bacon”

  1. mom says:

    your are welcome …. guess I did good … love you too

  2. cindym says:

    This is so funny! I just sent the four-pack to my friend James for his birthday next week (the idea was all thanks to your site, of course!). He too commented on the sweet smell as he opened the packages. I told him, and I’ll tell you: I read in Cooks’ Illustrated that a good way to store bacon is to roll up the slices individually into little coils and freeze them separately. That way you don’t have to defrost a whole pack just to use a few slices. Not a bad tip, I think. Enjoy!

  3. megwoo says:

    That’s so great… I hope he loved it! I really want to try the cob smoked bacon because it sounds so unusual and delicious. That’s next on the list.

    Thanks for the freezer tip! It’s perfect timing because I was just thinking that I should freeze some but was worried about having to defrost the whole thing at one time. Brilliant idea!

  4. megwoo says:

    UPDATE: I have since eaten more bacon, but this time it has been fried. The taste and texture were markedly improved. I think that the microwave cooks bacon a little too evenly. When pan-fried, the fatty parts stayed a little fatty, but they also were more flavorful and juicy.

    The Meacham Maple Cured Bacon is still my favorite and it’s absolutely fantastic.

  5. megwoo says:

    UPDATE #2: I have now tried all the bacon, pan fried. It tastes about a million times better in the pan, so now I will dirty as many dishes as it takes to do side-by-side bacon comparisons. These bacons are all fantastic, with maybe the exception of the Gatton Farms Bacon—I still found it to be a bit too smoky for my taste, but it’s much better pan fried that microwaved.

  6. j says:

    i had never heard of the Grateful Palate but i just received a birthday gift in the mail from them. my friend sent me NINE different kinds, including the North Co. Cob Smoked Cured Bacon.

    this is one of the best gifts i have ever received and i haven’t even tried any of it yet (i’d love to do the side-by-side comparison but that’s a lot of bacon to eat in one sitting).

  7. megwoo says:

    Hi J,
    You must have an awesome friend—that’s SUCH a great gift! I hope you enjoy eating all your Grateful Palate bacons!

    If you feel like doing a bacon review, let me know—I love to hear about all kinds of bacon!

  8. j says:

    my friend is, indeed, the Queen of Gifts.

    in case you’re interested, here are the bacons i received:
    hempler’s bacon
    scott’s country style bacon
    newsome’s old mill store hickory smoked country bacon
    north country apple wood smoked bacon
    north country cob smoked bacon
    burger’s smokehouse jowl bacon
    ozark trails pepper bacon
    nodine’s smokehouse double smoked bacon
    dan philips special brown sugar hickory smoked country bacon

    i’ve only tried the last one so far & i think it may be the same one you reviewed as i found it overly smokey (although my husband really liked it).

    i’m not sure if “qualified to review all this bacon…

  9. megwoo says:

    Okay, I just have to say it… I’m SO jealous! All your bacons sound incredible. Please, please, please tell me how the North Country Cob Smoked Bacon is. I’ve never had cob smoked bacon, but a lot of people swear by it. Mmmmm.

  10. j says:

    the friend who sent me this cornucopia of bacon will be coming up for a visit from cali @ the end of this month. i’m thinking i’ll stage a bacon tasting when she’s here. i’ll keep you posted.

    (& i don’t think i’ll be able to resist the cob smoked until then. i’ll let you know how it is!)

  11. megwoo says:

    Oh that’s such a great idea… I heart bacon tastings!! Please do let me know about the cob when you try it. Enjoy!

  12. j says:

    hey, we tried it & loved it. it’s very smoky but in a different way than the dan philips double-smoked; mellower & deeper. it’s not especially salty & it’s very meaty. very low fat ratio. personally, i prefer that but it does tend to make it a less crispy bacon.

    oh, & fyi, i tried the bacon rolling method for freezing & it really does the trick.

  13. megwoo says:

    Mmmmm. That sounds great. I really think I might have to place an order soon. What ended up being your favorite bacon?

  14. j says:

    this is really late (& not at all up to your rating standards) but i thought i’d share it with you anyway.


  15. Richard says:

    Is this the same NorthCountryBacon featured on the Today Show? Based in N.H.?

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