By Dustin Shipman
Often relegated to the status of breakfast staple, bacon is a food that is good nearly any time of day — whether it is with an egg and toast for breakfast, on a sandwich between two slices of bread with a bit of mayo, lettuce and tomato for lunch, or wrapped around a thick slice of filet mignon at dinner.
It can be served in salads, on a burger or just on its own. Although bacon is not exactly a health food, many people consider it among their favorite guilty pressure.
Chad Neece, owner of Hatfield’s Smoked Meats, 7329 Gateway Dr. in Neosho, said bacon is among the meats that seem to be popular all year, regardless of season.
Neece said there are several different ways to make bacon; the curing process what gives the meat its flavor.
“The process is different depending on who is making it,” he said. “Sometimes it can take as long as a month to cure it. We rub it down with a dry cure of our own special recipe. After that, it sits in a refrigerator for about a week and then it gets smoked.”
Neece said that to make good bacon, first you have to start with quality meat, which usually comes from the underbelly of a hog.
“Taste depends on a mix of everything,” he said, “But you have to start off with a quality product.”
Steve Madewell, owner of Madewell Meats, located at 12634 Highway 39 in Mount Vernon, said his bacon recipes are quite different than the bacon found in a grocery store.
“We make a no-nitrates bacon. There are a lot of people that are allergic to nitrates and it gives them headaches,” said Madewell, who was at the winter market in Webb City last week to sell his products. “The bacon you might buy at the store usually has lots of nitrates in it. There aren’t any sold in the store that don’t have it. We also have a no-sugar bacon which a lot of diabetics buy, which we use a dehydrated honey powder to make. It’s a little more expensive, but the process of making it is relatively the same.”
Madewell said the sugarless bacon is a popular item not only with people that can’t eat sugar but with others as well, and he ships it all over the United States through Internet sales.
Madewell said that he suffers from diabetes and the poor choices of other sugar-free and nitrate-free bacon lead him to create his own recipe.
“Even though it is a different curing process, there really isn’t a difference in the taste,” he said. “People like the idea that it doesn’t have sugar or the nitrates. It took us about a year to get everything just right.”
Although most of the bacon that people are familiar with comes from the belly of the hog, there are other cuts which are available.
“We make a hillbilly bacon that comes off of the shoulder,” Madewell said. “We do that around tomato season because it makes for a wider strip and it makes a good BLT.”
He said the different cuts don’t necessarily mean the bacon will have a different flavor. That is determined mostly by the curing process.
The following recipes are from www.baconrecipes.net.
Bacon ranch potato salad
3 pounds small red potatoes
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup ranch dressing
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
6 slices bacon (cooked crisp and crumbled)
1/2 cup celery (chopped)
1/2 cup sweet onion (chopped)
1/4 cup red bell pepper (chopped)
1/4 cup green bell pepper
1/4 cup Wedge (cut black olives)
Salt water and steam or gently boil red potatoes with the skin on. Boil or steam until the potatoes are tender but not mushy. Drain and let cool. Cut into 1-inch chunks. Whisk together mayonnaise, ranch dressing, salt, pepper and garlic powder in a large bowl until combined. Add potatoes, bacon, celery, sweet onion, bell peppers, and olives. Toss gently until well-combined. Refrigerate potato salad at least 4 hours or overnight for flavors to blend.
Molasses bacon and beef beans
1/2 pound bacon
1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion (chopped)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 (15-ounce) can pork and beans
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans
1 can cannellini beans
Brown the bacon, ground beef and chopped onion till the beef is no longer pink. Drain well. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the sugars, ketchup, barbecue sauce, molasses, dry mustard, garlic powder and salt and pepper. Drain all of the beans, and add to the mixture. Pour it all into a greased casserole dish. Bake for 1 hour. Serve it with crusty bread.
By Dustin Shipman