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Thi N. | Sep 24, 200310:29 PM     35

I love bacon. Certainly for itself (and I demand CRISPY, goddammit!) but most as a cooking medium. For trout, for frying pancakes (using a John Thorne tip, the trinity of pancake fats: peanut oil in the batter, bacon fat on the pan, butter on the top), for frying eggs, for flavoring split pea soup.

Add to this my girlfriend's insistence on the BLT as the center of the sandwich world.

I've been trying a lot of local bacons. The supermarket standards, like Hillshire Farms, I find basically inedible - stinking of nitrates and the like. The several varieties of (very expensive) in-house at Whole Foods were pretty awful - impossible to crisp, and tasting mostly of seasonings and, in one case, cheap maple syrup. I've tried a bunch more, which I've forgotten.

The favorites thus far:

Farmer John's. Available at most Ralph's, though not all. This is a good, pleasant, very porky flavored bacon. It's the best for eating on its own. Clean, fresh flavor. (Have I blessed Farmer John's before? I'm going to miss it when I leave L.A.)

I would have sworn up and down the block that Farmer John's was the best bacon I'd regularly cooked with, until I got my hands on the uncured Niman Ranch bacon carried by Trader Joe's.

This stuff - this stuff is the glory.

Less intensely porky than Farmer John's, this stuff has the cleanest, purest light lard flavor I know. Like nice fresh Plugra or its relatives for cookery, the rendered fat is absolutely glass-clear in its flavor. For cooking stuff in, beats anything else I've had.

A meal of some trout I'd caught cooked in Niman Ranch bacon, with a salad and some riesling (sp?), was pretty much the most satisfying thing I'd made in a long time. The flavor of the bacon was sort of everywhere, lifting up the trout, and completely transparent. No flavor-blockage. Wheee!

So: if I need a pork bomb flavor, I'd use Farmer John's. That would be the choice, for, say, bacon to eat on its own, or, say, lardons for a lamb roast or beef stew.

But, if anything like delicacy is involved, Niman Ranch bacon. For very fresh trout, for good eggs, for BLT's.

Hell, I'd add it to birthday cake.

-thi

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