Sunday, October 26, 2014

October 26, 2014 - Building a UDS and some nice Applewood from Pederson's

MY LIFE WITH BACON continues this week with the building of a UDS and some Applewood Uncured Smoked Bacon.


Leave it to the Huffington Post to find something new in the bacon world.  There’s a new “Bacon D’oh Nut Burger” available from PYT Burger in Philadelphia.  Pretty amazing, it appears to be a bacon crumble glazed donut filled not with cream, but with a cheeseburger.  Very appealing looking.  

Here’s a link to the PYT website.

KFC has also introduced a new bacon burger as reported by the LATimes.   The Zinger Double Down is “a bacon hamburger with a fried chicken bun” and looks like it would be really crunchy! 

Seriously, though, this looks really unhealthy.  Too many breadcrumbs on the chicken.

Unfortunately, it’s only available in South Korea.

WE MADE A “UDS” THIS WEEKEND.  That’s an “Ugly Drum Smoker” for those who are uninformed.  Generally, these are made from steel 35- or 55-gallon drums that are reconditioned and turned into a smoker.  I ordered my 55-gallon steel drum a few weeks ago for $35, delivery included.  The drum was empty and previously contained soybean oil.  I had to use a reciprocating saw to rip the flat lid off the drum.

It’s recommended that you ‘burn out’ your drum, to remove all food residue, and under no circumstances should one use a drum that has contained anything other than food – it’s a major health hazard. I did that last weekend.

I used a coat of hi temp (2000 degrees F) flat black paint on it after the burn out and cleaning, and two coats of high temp black gloss.  After painting, I drilled the appropriate holes (with a stepper drill bit – a pleasure to use on this soft steel drum).

I did a bunch of research on this, and settled on purchasing a DIY kit from Big Poppa. Compare website to pic on right-->>>

More fun to make than buy!  I must say that the instructions were very clear, and I am very pleased with the outcome.  Debbie and I had fun assembling the drum kit.  Use your imagination – one person nearly has to ‘get in’ the drum in order to push some of the hardware through the holes.   

We got dirty too! Lots of fun on a sunny, 70-degree, Chicagoland autumn day.

It looks great.  Now I need to find a used Weber 22.5” grill lid and I’ll be all set.  After that, here comes the smoked pork shoulder, and of course, smoking my own pork belly!  More to follow.


I previously posted about Pederson's...

This bacon lists at 10 ounces, but I only got 9.5 ounces net.  Unacceptable.  After cooking, it was 3.4 ounces, and we consumed it immediately.  Very good bacon.  It produced a scant 50ml of rendered bacon fat.  They suggest looking at the recipe on the back, but it was insufficiently instructive to reproduce.  I'll have to go to the website at some point.

Upon opening the bacon had a nice, clean, fresh Applewood and bacon scent.  During cooking, there was some curl, but it wasn’t excessive; and the bacon didn’t stick to the cast iron pan.  Flavor-wise, it was a little too sweet, but properly salty and crisped up well.  An excellent bacon.  Crispness – 3.5, Flavor – 3.5, Succulence – 3, Chewiness – 2.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

October 19, 2014: Bacon Prices set to Decline! And Bacon made from Duck?

MY LIFE WITH BACON continues this week with some more good news.

Bacon prices have been "set to increase" due to the swine virus - however - the pig population has recovered, and with increased supply, consumer prices are likely going to drop!!  Good article about it here.  We should all be happy; prices are high right now.

Another bacon-themed restaurant announced its opening.  This one is Jethro's BBQ 'n Bacon Bacon in Des Moines.  Looks like great stuff.

HOW ABOUT PICKLED PICKLES AND BACON?  This is a question I pose to my friend Eric Arnson.  Eric makes unbelievably crisp, fresh and flavorful pickle slices, and he is kind enough to hand deliver them to his friends' homes.

I am sad to report that this is my last jar, freshly cracked open.  It won't last long.  My questions for Eric are:  1) how about putting some Nueske's in there next year?  and 2) When is Shed Poker starting?

HOW TO COOK "FLAT" BACON is the subject of this article.  Huffington Post is always good for a bacon story or two.  Interesting, and I will have to try it.  I always thought that you DON'T want perfectly flat bacon - you want the wave shape (see picture toward the end of the article, which is a primer on bacon).  But I'll give it a shot.

A DOZEN BACON FOOD HACKS are listed on this site.  Really, really great stuff.  I like the pancake bacon dippers, but I'll only use Nueske's and some excellent homemade batter for the pancakes.  I'll also try to use paleo-friendly flour and let you know how it goes! #11, Bacon Donuts... you cannot beat Voodoo Doughnuts (left) in this category.

THIS WEEK'S BACON REVIEW isn't really a review of bacon.  It's something called "Duck Bacon".  Huh?  Bacon made from Duck?  The packaging says that it's duck breast.  But the fat strip on along the side of the strip looks like bacon.  There are two different types of meat on each strip: two tones of color, one more reddish than the other.  I WON'T be evaluating turkey bacon or other faux bacon, but thought I'd give duck a try.  After all, if it's good enough for John Madden (see TurDuckEn), then duck is good enough for me.

D'Artagnan Natural and Organic has been around since 1985, and they claim that all the 4-star restaurants in New York City have their products on the menu.  An interesting, high-end website that has a price tag to match.  The products look great, but I can get prime meats locally in Chicago-land at a fraction of the price tag of their online store. 

It's "D'ARTAGNAN Uncured Smoked Duck Bacon" and out of the packaging, it had a gamey smell.  Eight ounces, said the package, and that's exactly what I got.  The instructions said "pan fry on low heat, turning frequently, until desired crispness.  Drain on paper towels"... well, that's pretty much what I do for regular bacon.  Here's a composite shot of the bacon out of the box and during cooking:

The Duck Bacon had minimal shrinkage.  It was very dark, and no matter how much it was cooked, it really didn't crisp up at all.  It had a dry, gamey flavor and was more chewy than expected.  8 oz package cooked down to 3 oz, and produced 30ml of rendered duck fat.

I did cook it in a small amount of bacon fat, so it had a little true bacon flavor.  But overall, I can't call this bacon, or even good. Not recommended unless you are a duck fanatic.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

October 12, 2014: A New Kraft Product! And Pederson's Natural Farms

MY LIFE WITH BACON continues this week with a very exciting product announcement from Kraft, and a review of Pederson's Natural Farms Uncured Hickory Smoked bacon.

 BACON IN THE NEWS is very exciting this week.  Kraft made this announcement launching a new Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese flavor - BACON! The announcement is great, but it's just a tease: this stuff won't be available until next year. 

You'd think it'd easy to stick bacon into cream cheese:
"Not so fast, though—apparently, inserting bacon into cream cheese isn’t as easy at it sounds. And it doesn’t sound that easy. The product, which contains bits of bacon, took roughly 18 months to develop.
According to senior director of Kraft for Philadelphia, Chris Hjorth, bacon is a hard flavor to get just right. The brand wanted to make sure the bacon was apparent enough, while still being balanced with the cream cheese. This is the stuff that keeps food scientists up at night."
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I had a pretty great weekend.  On Saturday, my son Jack had a great game against the Lake Zurich HS freshman team. I don't brag much, but check out a short highlight video here; he's #4.

After that early start, I installed a trailer hitch receiver and light socket on my Jeep and then ripped off the top of a 55-gallon drum and burned it out in preparation to turn it into a smoker - for BACON and other porcine products.

On Saturday night, we went with friends to Flemings, and part of the menu appears below along with the Pork Belly appetizer.  Amazingly outstanding.  Our friends said it was unbelievable.  Of course - it's BACON!

THIS WEEK'S BACON EVALUATION is Pederson's Natural Farms uncured Hickory Smoked bacon. 

The package is 10 ounces, and weighed in very wet at 9.6 ounces - gypped of .4 ounces!  Bad QC right off the bat.  It had a VERY fresh smell upon opening, solidly bacon-y.  It did NOT STICK to the pan at all; very unusual and easy to cook.  Post cooking, it was 3.8 ounces and produced 50ml of bacon fat.

This bacon was pretty pedestrian, despite initial impresions.  It wasn't crispy  - below average rating of 2/5.  More chewy than expected at 4; flavor just average at 2.5, as well as average succulence.  The fatty parts didn't burst with bacon goodness... overall, a bit disappointing.

Next week, I'll review D'ARTAGNAN uncured Smoked Duck Bacon, in a serious deviation from tradition.  I cooked it on the pan I used with Pederson's this week, in an effort to impart some bacon flavor.  See you next week with that review!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

September 27, 2014: a Visit to Kraft world HQ and some new Thick Cut bacon

MY LIFE WITH BACON continues with a business visit last week at Kraft world headquarters near Chicago.  I was lucky enough to shop the Kraft company store, with lots of goodies available.  I picked up some bacon jerky, along with the new Thick Cut bacon, which review appears below.  Short post this time.

I eagerly anticipated cooking up this pound-and-a-half or porcine goodness.  It weighed in at 1 pound 8 ounces; well done, Oscar!  Post cooking it was 8 ounces even, and produced 200ml of bacon fat.

I'm giving this bacon solid 4's across the board.  If you look carefully, you'll see that for some reason, it didn't cook up entirely evenly.  And I needed to cook it in two batches!  Curls were accommodated with kitchen shears. Great succulence, flavor and cripsness.  See you next Sunday!