|Sam Edwards' Dry-Cured Berkshire Bacon from Virginia|
I'm back with more bacon porn for you bacon lovers!
Zingerman's Bacon of the Month Club featured Sam Edwards' Dry-Cured Berkshire Bacon from Virginia (my home state, as it happens).
Like most of the bacon from the club, this one is produced by a family operation. Edwards still cures and smokes his bacon the same way that his father and grandfather did. He's also always experimenting with new ways to improve his product -- recently introducing peanut-finishing of hogs and going back to old breeds of pig like the Berkshire.
The Berkshire pigs used to produce this bacon are an heirloom variety that have been grazing fields in this country for centuries. They're renowned for their concentrated, porky flavor, which has mostly been bred out of white pigs. Many chefs revere these pigs for their fattier meat and superior flavor.
Edwards' bacon is dry-cured, the most traditional curing method. It's rubbed with salt and sugar and left for seven to ten days. Then it's rubbed off and smoked for 18 to 24 hours over green hickory to get the proper color and flavor. Finally, it's left to hang for at least a week to temper and lose more moisture, the most important part of the process according to Edwards.
I found this bacon to be wonderfully sweet and smoky, with great layers of fat amidst the darker meat. I cooked it up super crispy in the oven (my preferred cooking method).
In addition to being fabulous for breakfast, this bacon was perfect for making BLT's, one of my favorite sandwiches in the world. The length and size of the bacon matched up with the bread, and the flavor when combined with mayo, lettuce, and tomato was unparalleled.
This bacon certainly did Virginia proud! Only one more bacon installment to go. I'm loving this club so much, I may have to renew our membership... stay tuned...
Cure: Dry Cured for 7-10 days in a mixture of salt and sugar
Smoke: Smoked over hickory for 18-24 hours
Taste: Rich, deep flavor. Sweet and smoky.
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