15 July, 2006

Farmland Blazing Hot Bacon

Browsing through the local butcher shop last week, I noticed something new: Farmland brand Blazing Bacon. It claimed to be "Hot and Spicy Cured." The price was right - $2.39 for a full 16-ounce package - so I tossed one into the carriage. At worst, I'd end up with cheap but probably edible bacon, and at best, I'd have a spicy breakfast treat.

An examination of the packaging revealed some details: "Cured with water, salt, sugar, sodium phosphates, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite. Rubbed with natural flavorings." So Blazing Bacon is pretty much a normally-cured bacon that's had some spices rubbed on. The packaging does not specify what the "natural flavorings" are, but a close look shows red powder. Probably cayenne pepper and paprika.

Above: Farmland's Blazing Bacon out of the package. Check out the top edge of the bacon slices. The hot spices are along the edge of the bacon with little penetration onto the surface of the slices.

The first thing I noticed when the bacon hit the hot frying pan was the rich smell of toasted paprika. It's an unmistakeable aroma that you just don't get with other pepper powders. As the bacon cooked and the fat tried out, the spices on the edges of the strips mingled with the fat and more evenly coated the bacon.
The bacon also got really wrinkled and curly. Farmland bacon is always pretty decent. It's never overly salty, doesn't seem to be too sugary, and has a well-balanced smoked flavor. It does tend to be a little fattier than some other brands, but hell, it's bacon: what do you expect? But I have noticed that Farmland is also a "wetter" cure than some others, and that's what makes it wrinkle and curl so much - the water frying out with the fat. Thankfully, it's not too "spitty" - it doesn't "pop" a whole lot, and it doesn't leave a lot of caramelized sugars at the bottom of my spider*.

And what about the taste? Very much like a standard bacon, but with a noticeable hot "edge." Not "Blazing," and not even very uncomfortable (even for my non-chilehead wife) but there it is. For all the wonderful paprika smell when the rashers hit the pan, there is no noticeable pepper taste, but there is that vaguely annoying "back-of-the-throat" cayenne pepper burn and lingering heated aftereffect in the mouth.

The verdict: Thumbs up, actually. Farmland really does make a good-quality product and sells it at a fair price, and Blazing Bacon with its mild capsaicin kick makes for a nice bit of variety at breakfast.

* - Spider is a New England term for "cast iron frying pan." See? You learn something new every day.

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